Later this week both Katie and Ian will be heading to Dingle International Film Festival to take part in the Dingle Pow Wow that the festival holds, a day full of industry talks that’s held in the Blasket Centre. As we find our passports and check bag regulations we thought we’d share with you our chat with Maurice Galway, the man behind the festival itself…
Tell us about your festival
Dingle International Film Festival is couched within the breathtaking town of Dingle on the beautiful Dingle Peninsula in southwest Ireland and takes places annually in March. We are housed within this Gaeltacht area, and are proud to promote the Irish language; we are the only festival offering an award for Irish script writing with our Físín event. Dingle is home to many filmmakers – and to one of Ireland’s only independent cinemas, The Phoenix Cinema, which was built in 1937. Dingle is also a known film location (Star Wars, Ryan’s Daughter, Far and Away) and a major tourist destination, so its the perfect home for our festival.
We offer feature and short film screenings, from Ireland and around the globe, covering all genres. An event which we began last year, our Dingle Pow-Wow, gives filmmakers the opportunity to get together for a Chin-wag and Banter with top professionals. We are also home to the Gregory Peck Award: For Excellence in the Art of Film. Recipients over the years have included Gabriel Byrne, Jim Sheridan, Jean Jacques Beineix, Stephen Frears, The Peck Family and Laura Dern. Other guests to our festival, have included Cillian Murphy, Maureen O’ Hara, Saoirse Ronan, Aidan Gillan, Sir Alan Parker, Barbara Kopple, Jack Reynor, Ben Wheatley, Bono, Lisa Albert and Garrett Brown.
Out of Dingle IFF also came Animation Dingle which runs at the same time. For the purposes of this interview I’ll stick to Dingle IFF.
What made you start your film festival?
I have always loved film and have made film myself. Back in late 2005, following 5 years with a film festival I founded, I took a 6 month break with my wife and 3 young children. We travelled mostly through the South Pacific. During this time I took time to plan my next move. I knew I wanted to continue with a film festival and when I returned I set up Dingle IFF in the amazing town of Dingle, knowing that this is such an incredible destination to bring filmmakers to. The location is special; The Phoenix Cinema, St. James Church and The Blasket Centre are such unique venues to exhibit quality film in and on top of that you’ve got award winning, hotels, restaurants and bars.
What are you most looking forward to in your next edition?
For me it’s about making new friends and connecting again with old friends. For the weekend of the festival, life exists in this very exciting and engaging bubble. It’s very intense and has a very high energy, I have been preparing all year for these 4 days, it has to work and it’s so satisfying to see it all come together. I love listening to people’s thoughts on a feature or a short they’ve just seen.
What have you learnt the most from being involved with a film festival?
I think the main thing really is that you are dealing with people. Whether it is with the filmmaker, distributor, journalist, sponsor, funder, venue owner or audience member. Its about making everyone happy and it is about their experience of the festival. We take a lot of time in making sure both our guests and audience will have a positive experience.
How does your selection process work?
The only platform we use for short film submissions at the moment is FilmFreeway. I watch every film that is submitted. The process is rigorous and takes time, but with the end result being a showcase of exceptional films from around the world presented to our audience. With features, I have built up a strong relationship with various distributors over the years, and this, together with visits to festivals is essential. The net result is a selection of quality films we present with as many of the filmmakers present as possible. This selection process is done with expertise drawn from our film friends in Ireland, the UK and USA, including Mandy Kean, Soho House, Irish writer/director Gerard Stembridge, Irish film critic Peter Maguire, and director, Mark Covino to name but a few.
What’s your protocol for sending out rejections?
We decided in the last 2 years not to send a rejection letter as they will receive a non-selected response from FilmFreeway; a letter from us is too much. I never enjoy saying no to a filmmaker and as a filmmaker I know this can be disappointing; we need to believe in our work and move on.
Length of short film – discuss…
Well this is an interesting one for sure. If as a filmmaker you submit a film 30 mins in duration (longest short we allow in submission) it has to be really amazing – you are asking a festival programmer to give over between 35/45 % of the duration of a shorts programme to your film. Generally a shorts programme is between 80-90 mins duration allowing for 8-10 shorts to be selected and programmed for each Shorts Screening at the festival. The sweet spot for a short film is around 10 mins.The magic is, of course, that a great filmmaker can make it work and astound you in such a short time.
Describe your festival in five words or three emojis
Quality. Film. Location. Fun. Relaxed
What’s a personal favourite film festival of yours?
I get a lot of value out of BFI London Film Festival in terms of planning Dingle IFF, The timing is right and plus I get to hang out with friends there. Having said that it’s hard to beat the opportunities and sun at the Cannes Film Festival.
What do you wish more filmmakers did, and didn’t do?
I wish all selected filmmakers could come and attend the festival. I know budgets don’t always allow but it’s all about the filmmakers being there and bringing their energy to the festival. I love the fact that a festival is an open invitation to all, to come together, enjoy watching and talking about film and creating that incredible energy together within the cinema and the festival clubs afterwards.
What questions do you get asked the most by filmmakers?
“When’s my film showing?”
What’s your favourite film?
That’s hard! One of those impossible questions I find and depending on the day I could go with so many different answers. Today I’m going with GoodFellas. I got to see it in the cinema again very recently and there is so much to love, right from the opening title sequence by Saul Bass.
And drink of choice whilst the festival is underway…?
That’s easy, a pint of Guinness!