Film festival boost to local economy

THE second Offline Film Festival is being hailed as a great success, with plans already being made for next year’s event.

THE second Offline Film Festival is being hailed as a great success, with plans already being made for next year’s event.

The winning film at the festival ‘Oh’ by Cathal Feeney goes forward to the Galway Film Fleadh and there was also praise for the runner-up film ‘Pull’ by Conor Hooper and Emily Murray.

There was a full house at Birr Theatre and Arts Centre for the arts for the showing of the films that were made in the Birr area over the week of the festival, with the judges offering very positive feedback to film makers before the final result was announced.

But the film competition was only part of the festival, with an impressive array of Irish and international films shown in a variety of unusual venues throughout Birr.

The festival opened officially on Wednesday evening with a red-carpet showing of last year’s winning film, The Sandeman Man, made by Carla Mooney.

This was followed by a screening of The Quiet Man to celebrate the movie’s sixtieth anniversary.

The inflatable cinema visited Ireland for the first time for a unique and sold-out screening of the original tale of Willie Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, and there were films shown during the festival which lasted as little as just 15 seconds.

With all the film crews staying in the area, local TD and chairperson of the committee, Marcella Corcoran Kennedy says the festival was a boom to the local economy.

“But certainly from an artistic basis as well, we really feel strongly that it’s highlighting film as an art form,” she said, adding that everyone on the committee is very passionate about film.

“We hope that the young filmmakers will get the opportunity to learn here and go away with really good experiences and come back here year after year and tell their friends about it.”

Film maker and director of the festival, Gary Hoctor said there is tremendous good will towards the festival which has grown significantly in only its second year.

That the winning film gets straight through to the Galway Film Fleadh shows the faith the Fleadh organisers have in the quality of what’s coming from Birr.

UK based film maker Lauren Hatchard was full of praise for the festival. She did her first director’s Q&A on Wednesday for 80 people who asked about her work and it was an experience she enjoyed.

She said Ireland is an important place to be for filmmakers and describes the film scene in the UK as “bleak.”