Waterford Film Festival, the brainchild of Stephen Byrne, is now in its second year and expanded from a weekend to five days, with over eighty films, shorts and documentaries on view at several venues. I spent two days at Greyfriars Gallery and experienced the full range of work that brings to Waterford an eclectic mix of new work by aspiring film and documentary makers and by and large wa impressed by the scope, vision and creativity on show.
On Friday, a programme of Short Documentaries, delivered a look at Lee Harvey Oswald, the JFK assassin, in a patchy, self-obsessed style, a depressing wet look at organic farming, a clever story of the naming of the planet Pluto by a young girl who did not get to see the planet until she was 89 years of age. An overloud narrative spoiled a brief look at Monto, the Dublin red-light district. A programme, The Lion In The Room, had Waterford connections with a look at the rise of autism in Ireland. Again, there was too much official fudging or lack of support for5 families. Perhaps there were too many talking heads but the programme had emotive appeal and the suggested causes, due to industrial progress, was chilling. Describing Kathy Sinnott MEP as a minister in the Irish Parliament made me wonder about the accuracy of other facts but our Government does not impress, the way they allow children to be treated.
A programme of Short Films was a real mixed bag with a silly Irish film about a Church Bell keeping a man aware. I enjoyed the edgy nature of Broken, with actor Peter Polycarpou, he looked an innocence and exile in a big city. Toimorrow’s Forecast was a clever take on celebrity and death.
A Newfoundland film To Dublin With Love showing a stock-shot of Cork and was really about a literary trip around Ireland in a Waterford Institute Of Technology bus. Great shots of Wexford at night and local Waterford faces were John Ennis, Liam Rellis and John Grubb.
Talking point of the festival was the Dungarvan full-length feature film, The Hidden, with its overkill of crude language and dialogue. Expletives leapt off the screen and the audience tittered and laughed at what was a clever horror story, with excellent title sequences, good horror exposition and a blood-fest to die for. Despite the crude dialogue, this was visually an excellent film and its co-directors, Eva O’Riordan and Jessie Kirby, have a career ahead of them. I enjoyed Hank Regan and Vanessa Hyde in central roles.
The Japanese horror Twilight Phantom was impressive with its evocation of a folk-myth to scare a group of modern young business people. This and The Hidden were highlights of Friday.
A great range of Short Films made Saturday a good day to be warm indoors at Greyfriars. I saw a Spanish vampire film, a grimy prostitute story, an Irish confession sketch of a joke and Paschal Scott was excellent in Penny, a look at unwanted pregnancy. Dave Duffy starred in a good Irish short My Dad and a cross dressing comedy was classy.
Loved another Irish short, The Basket Case, with Simon Delaney, Deirdre O’Kane, Tara Flynn and Declan Conlon. I’m sure RTE will screen this in its Short Cuts, so I won’t spoil the ending.
My personal favourite on Saturday was a 60 minute Feature Documentary about the impressive October Gallery in London and it was inspirational in its explanation of a dedicated woman bringing new world art to the attention of a larger audience. The art on show was amazing from Africa, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa.
The City Council deserve great praise as does their enthusiastic Arts Officer, Conor Nolan, whom this year has extended its remit into a fine support for young rock and folk musicians, given a new professional dance company, Animated State, a great kickstart. Nolan’s support of film is also welcome and Greyfriars is now a location for vibrant and expressive arts.