People in the indie film world always have their favorite small-to-medium festival (i.e. not Sundance, Berlin, Cannes, or Toronto), an event where we end up finding little nuggets worth sharing to the rest of the world (whether you’re a fest programmer, a journalist, or a distributor). One of those relatively off-the-beaten-path events was Ireland’s Galway Film Fleadh. Set to open its 19th edition on July 10, the festival has been a favorite amongst industryites for years (I’ve never been, but always wanted to). It’s a place where new English-lanuage work from Europe has been known to make a significant debut in the middle of the hectic Eurofest summer (starting with Cannes and ending with Venice).
Galway hit its tipping point in January 2007, five months after its 2006 festival was over. That’s when John Carney’s Irish romantic musical Once became the “little indie that could” at Sundance 2007, and everyone wanted to know “where did this movie come from?” Well, it came from Ireland, and it premiered at Galway. Once wasn’t destined for U.S. theaters, let alone a successful run that has it clocking in at $2.5 million at the box office (and counting). The film was bound for UK oblivion, until it was serendipitously discovered by Sundance programmers attending the festival. The rest, apparently, is history.
It was presumably such a momumental occasion for the Irish fest, that Galway will feature a panel session this year dedicated to the Once phenomenon. So, will North American distributors and festival programmers find themselves clamoring for credentials to next month’s festival in hopes of finding the next Once? Or, will that title be the ultimate harbinger?