Talking Movies

September 7, 2014

Sky Road TV & Film Festival

The inaugural Sky Road TV & Film Festival drew to a close today, following a weekend of screenings of Irish TV and film-making talent across features, shorts, documentaries and new media in both English and Irish languages, at The Station House Theatre in Clifden Co. Galway. Highlights on Sunday included a screening of The Field, with special guest Jim Sheridan, 25 years after it was first filmed in the locality and the world premiere of Tommy: To Tell You The Truth with comedian Tommy Tiernan in attendance.


The festival brought unexpected stories to audiences throughout the three days, both entertaining and thought-provoking from a broad range of emerging and established filmmakers, all of whom were in the running for the Festival awards which were announced following the closing film.

“It’s been an exhilarating and exciting first festival” said Eamonn O Cualain, Festival Chairman. “The quality and quantity of submissions for our first programme enabled us to deliver what we hope has been a unique festival experience. The support and positive feedback has been overwhelming from both the film industry and our audiences. The local goodwill and enthusiasm has been particularly reassuring and encouraging.”

There were nine awards in association with industry organisations TG4, RTE, BAI and the Irish Film Board. The judging panel included a range of figures from the Irish film Industry including Jim Sheridan, Bob Quinn, Ross Whitaker, Martha O’Neill, Paddy Hayes, Jill Beardsworth, Barbara McCann, Loretta Ni Ghabhain and film journalists Daniel Anderson, Tara Brady, Gavin Burke, Donald Clarke, Brogen Hayes and Nicola Timmins.

The winners were:

Best Short Film in association with The Irish Film Board 

Winner: The Abandoning

A film about the memory of a house where the past and present are not separate places

Director: Vanessa Gildea. Producer: Se Merry Doyle


Best Short Film, First Time Director in association with The Irish Film Board 

Winner: The Swing

A coming of age story about two young brothers who find themselves in a perilous situation that kicks up memories of their past

Director: Damien Dunne. Producer: Nora Windeck



Best Feature Film

Winner: A Nightingale Falling

Set in Ireland during The war of Independence, two sisters’ lives are changed forever as they care for a wounded soldier in their home.

Director: Garret Daly/Martina McGlynn. Producer: Martina McGlynn, Gerry Burke, Garret Daly, PJ Curtis


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Best Feature Documentary in association with TG4

Winner: John Sheahan – A Dubliner

A revealing and beautifully made portrait of a man who was an integral part of the national institution that is The Dubliners.

Director: Maurice Sweeney. Producer: Liam McGrath/Ceoladh Sheahan


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Best Short Documentary in association with RTE

Winner: Seamus Heaney – Iarscribhinn – Imeall

This special edition of Imeall celebrates the life and poetry of Seamus Heaney as we visit the farmlands of Bellaghy, Co. Derry that inspired so many of his poems.

Director: Paschal Cassidy. Producer: Maggie Breathnach


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Best Documentary Series in association with BAI

Winner: Ceolchuairt Iamaice

Belfast troubadour Gearoid Mac Lochlainn embarks on a reggae pilgrimage to Jamaica to see if the message of one love that crossed sectarian boundaries in his teenage years in Belfast is still alive in 

Director: Paddy Hayes. Producer: Laura Ni­ Cheallaigh


Best 3 minute short, New Media, filmed on a mobile or smart device

Winner: Turnaround for Little Terns

A news report for RTE which was filmed on an iphone 5S. Wicklow farmer Michael Keegan is hoping to restore the tractor which helped his grandfather win the 1964 World Ploughing Championship.

Director: Philip Bromwell


Best 1 minute short, New Media, filmed on a mobile or smart device

Winner: iday

One minute video concentrating on energy and power

Director/producer: Ivor Carroll


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The Spirit of the Festival Award was presented in recognition of a film, television programme or event that encapsulates the spirit of the Sky Road TV & Film Festival each year.

Winner: It Came From Connemara!!

This feature documentary tells the unique story behind Roger Corman’s film factory in Connemara.

Director/Producer: Brian Reddin


TG4 Pitch an idea to make a 25 minute documentary worth €25,000

In a unique and exciting opportunity TG4 offered aspiring filmmakers a chance to pitch their ideas to make a 25 minute documentary worth €25,000. Fifteen original pitches were shortlisted from a total of sixty one entries to pitch to commissioning editors on stage at the Festival in either the Irish or English language. Participants travelled from Dublin, Meath, Clare, Cork, Galway and Connemara.

The winner was Barry Ryan, a native of Clifden with ‘Beyond Reach Of Our Pity’. His idea for a short documentary, about a young boy who died in Letterfrack’s industrial school, was inspired by a line of poetry from Paula Meehan.  He will receive an initial €1,000 to develop a detailed written treatment from the synopsis, under the guidance of an experienced TV director. If TG4 considers this treatment of an acceptable standard for production the budget awarded will be €24,000.


“The standard was excellent, very clear pitches were delivered with great passion and belief. The range of ideas was truly amazing from highly personal stories to historical concepts to contemporary social commentary, across a broad geographical spread. While we chose ‘Beyond Reach Of Our Pity’ as the pitch winner we will also request a number of participants to submit their ideas for the next TG4 commissioning round on October 6th. All in all a very stimulating and exciting session.”  Proinsias Ni Ghrainne, Commissioning Editor, TG4

August 15, 2012

Stranger than Fiction @ the IFI

Stranger Than Fiction, the IFI’s documentary film festival returns from 16th to the 19th of August showcasing the best new Irish and international factual cinema.

Stranger Than Fiction has been programmed for the first time by documentary filmmaker and Commissioning Editor of Film Ireland Ross Whitaker who has tracked down a fantastic range of true-to-life stories; from an an intimate portrait of one of the world’s most famous photographers, via a chronicle of the death of the once-great Detroit and a moving record of one Palestinian village’s heroic resistance to oppression, to the story of an Irish boxing champion of the nineteenth century turned actor narrated by boxer turned actor Liam Neeson.Whitaker says “These films will move, shock and inspire you. They will inform you and, in some cases, change the way you think about the world. The truth, they say is stranger than fiction and I think the films on show prove that the best documentaries can be more powerful than any drama.’’

Selected as this year’s opening film, The Imposter is the bizarre tale of a missing Texas teenager who is ‘found’ after three years, in Spain, claiming he was kidnapped. The family are so relieved to have him home they overlook the boy’s European accent, new hair colour and physical changes… But when the FBI start investigating the boy’s kidnapping the murky tale takes an even stranger turn. The Interrupters is Steve (Hoop Dreams) James’ acclaimed story of the Violence Interrupters, ex-Chicago gang members who seek atonement for their past by directly intervening in violent confrontations. It’s a story of heroism which doesn’t shy away from the thankless nature of the task. The troubles of another mid-west city, Detroit, come into focus with Detropia. Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady’s fascinating portrait of the city shows that the decline of the automobile industry and the demographic shifts, so skilfully portrayed in Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex, have left a city of dreams hovering on the verge of oblivion. Similarly Penny Woolcock’s One Mile Away, sees teenage rap as the only creative spark left in a post-industrial gang-infested Birmingham suffering an epidemic of gun crime.

This year’s festival features two Irish films and two Irish co-productions. Andrew Gallimore’s The Gentleman Prizefighter tells the story of Irish-American heavyweight champion Jim Corbett, remembered for defeating the great Jim Sullivan and turning to film acting after hanging up his gloves. Paul Duane follows up his recent success with his Barbaric Genius portrayal of notorious chess player John Healy with Very Extremely Dangerous, the story of Jerry McGill a terminally-ill former rocker turned bank-robber who, aged 70, returns to the recording studio to make up for lost time. Irish/Dutch co-production Anton CorbijnInside Outprofiles the Dutch photographer and filmmaker largely responsible for the visual style of U2. He also worked extensively with Depeche Mode and Joy Division, before recently moving into film directing with impressive results: Control and The American. This documentary illuminates his life and working methods.

Two films about the Middle East demonstrate the powerful immediacy with which film can capture conflict and political unrest. Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi’s eponymous 5 Broken Cameras met their end while Emad was filming his Palestinian village of Bil’in’s struggle for survival. Sean McAllister’s Reluctant Revolutionary (an Irish/UK co-production) is an intimate portrait of a Yemeni tour guide’s conversion from sceptic to revolutionary during the Arab Spring. From South Korea comes Planet of Snail, a life-affirming observational documentary of a young disabled couple who radiate love and affection – deaf-blind poet Young Chan and Soon-Ho, whose own spinal disability means she’s barely taller than his waist. A big hit on the festival circuit and the Winner of Best Documentary Feature at the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam, Planet of Snail is sure to be one of the weekend’s highlights.

IFI Stranger Than Fiction Schedule

The Imposter

August 16th (19.00)

IFI Afternoon Talk:

Documentary Discussionwith Ross Whitaker and Guests

August 17th (14.00)

5 Broken Cameras

August 17th (18.30)

One Mile Away

August 17th (20.30)

The Gentleman Prizefighter

August 18th (13.20)

Reluctant Revolutionary

August 18th (15.30)

Very Extremely Dangerous

August 18th (17.30)

Anton Corbijn Inside Out

August 18th (20.00)

The Interrupters

August 19th (14.00)

Planet of Snail

August 19th (16.20)


August 19th (19.00)

Tickets are available from the IFI Box Office on 01 679 3477 and online at

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