TOP talent in the movie business continues to be charmed by Schull’s Fastnet Film Festival.
‘This could be one of the coolest festivals in the world,’ said American actor Aidan Quinn, when he spoke to The Southern Star at the launch party last week.
His comments were echoed by Irish director Lenny Abrahamson who said the appeal of Schull’s film festival could rival Cannes.
And many noted the weather was far better in West Cork than in Cannes this year, too!
The setting defies comparison – even with Cannes – and it goes some of the way to explaining why so many talented artists, writers, actors and people associated with the film industry, have acquired properties in the area.
Producer David Puttnam and actors Jeremy Irons, Saoirse Ronan and Paul Mescal are now ‘locals.’ But return visits by actors of the calibre of Ciarán Hinds, and the decision of countless people who are involved in the film industry to live in West Cork, would suggest the Fastnet Film Festival’s star is in the ascendant.
The team behind the Oscar-winning short movie An Irish Goodbye were in Schull, including popular actor James Martin, who posed for photos with fans all over town.
‘I was lucky enough to be invited,’ said Aidan Quinn. ‘This could be one of the coolest festivals in the world, I think, having been here just one day. There’s a lot of great talent here, and the weather is unbelievable. This part of the world is not bad either. I love being and working in Ireland, so it’s lovely to be here.’
‘The festival,’ according to the chairman Tom McCarthy, ‘is for the locality, by the locality. We bring in major stars every year, people who would normally go to Cannes, but they’ve started to come to Schull.
‘Schull has become this mecca of the Irish film industry and the reason it is so great is the community gets behind this 100% and it is so different to everything else.
‘We don’t have ropes, we don’t have red carpets, we don’t have VIP sections, everyone mingles. This is an up-close-and-personal festival.’
Another reason people travel to Schull for the festival is for the opportunity to take part in seminars, masterclasses and workshops in all aspects of the film industry.
In Schull, there is no cinema, but over the four days of the festival, both young and established film makers are in competition.
‘We had €44,000 in prizes to give away this year and we screened 160 of the very best competition entries,’ said Tom.
This year, the short film Simon, directed by Peter J McCarthy and Ben Conway, took home two prizes – the €5,000 for Best Irish Film and €500 for Best Drama – while Maria Stanisheva from Bulgaria took home a €5,000 prize for the Best International Film.
Meanwhile, the €25,000 David and Patsy Puttnam Script Award was presented to Rachel Walshe, who wrote Grando. The money will go towards the production of a 10-minute short film that will be shot on Cork’s Wild Atlantic Way and receive its premiere at the festival next year.