The one and only film I did see was very well acted by a mostly child cast led by Jack Gleeson and beautifully shot in France in very picturesque locations. It had a great look and an intriguing premise, with two young bereaved Irish brothers being taken to France by their father and falling in with the two British kids living in the neighboring country pile. But it fails to do much with that premise, and by the end I was feeling a bit short-changed. Still, it's worth a look if only for the gorgeous shots and star-making performances.
So what the hell was I doing the rest of the time? Well in a word, talking. A lot, in a rake of pubs, restaurants and bars. I did attend an excellent interview with festival supremo, producer and all-round legend Lelia Doolan, who discussed terrorising movie execs into giving her funding by turning up at their offices armed with smoked salmon and sausages. And how Bertolt Brecht was a funny little man with a horrible nasally voice. Not to mention cutting a whole act out of an Agatha Christie play so that the cast could run to a local cinema and see a film. I'm not doing justice to even half of the stories she regaled a packed Cinemobile with - she's a one-off and long may she continue.
There was also the Pitching Award competition, which kicked off at a bleary-eyed midday on Sunday. I really enjoyed hearing the five pitches and congratulations to Len Collins, who won with his unique and witty pitch Dumpailte. One thing I think the Fleadh should consider doing, though, are heats. They could take 60-70 writers and do pitching heats over a couple of days, and wear people down to a final 5 that way. It would give way more people a chance to practice pitching and would make it about the pitch performance itself rather than how well you can write one.
Apart from all that, the IPSG, IFTA and the Film Board all did free-drink parties, which apart from being welcome in these recessionary times were a great way to meet people and talk. And talk. I'm now talking like Marge Simpson, let's put it that way.
I had a brilliant time and met loads of great people, and that's really all you can ask from a festival. Can't wait for next summer already.