29 October 2015 No Comments by The Northern Standard

By Cianna McNally

 THE fourteenth Clones Film Festival, which took place last weekend saw three venues screening an exceptional programme of films to very appreciative audiences.

The annual event kicked off in style last Thursday evening and drew a capacity crowd to the courthouse building in Clones.

Three entertaining short films were shown on the night – The Picnic, Boogaloo and Graham amd Love is a Sting. The first two have a particularly strong local connection as bittersweet 1970s period drama The Picnic stars Chiara Vennitilli, an emerging young actress from Redhills, Co Cavan while Monaghan’s own Charlene McKenna featured in the heartwarming Boogaloo and Graham. Master of Ceremonies on opening night was the ever witty Chairperson of Clones Film Festival James Sheerin who only added to the evening’s feel-good factor as he humorously encouraged people to go and see a few films over the weekend.

James acknowledged the festival committee and thanked the many local sponsors who make the annual festival possible by supporting it over the years. He also paid tribute to the Arts Council, local Arts Officer Somhairle MacConghaile, Minister for the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys and Ballybay-Clones Municipal District for the assistance received in relation to improving the acoustics in the courthouse.

This work was carried out earlier this year as a result of a grant provided by Minister Humphreys’ Department. James also expressed the hope that permanent seating would also be installed in the courthouse in the future.

While the courthouse and the Cinemobile, which was located on the Diamond over the weekend, acted as the principal screening venues, the old Post Office was also transformed to serve as a smaller screening venue and quirky box office cum coffee stop. It provided a fabulous focal point with gourmet coffee and cakes being dished up by Frances Brogan and Keiran McGuigan to hungry filmgoers til late each evening

The festival programme was filled with the usual mix of highly engaging documentary and features from Ireland and abroad. A number of the films were highly popular and played to sell-out audiences.

Friday night saw Kevin Allen’s critically acclaimed ‘Under Milk Wood’ screened to a packed Cinemobile crowd who were riveted by this lyrical and sensual interpetraion of Dylan Thomas’ ‘Play for Voices ‘. Daragh Mc Cluskey, whose beautiful short film ‘I am Clones’ was screened on closing night of the festival hosted a very lively Q&A session with the director.

The youngsters of the film-going fraternity were, as usual very well catered-for, with screenings on Saturday and Sunday morning of children’s films ‘Song of the Sea and ‘The Tale of Princess Kaguya’ which were both very popular. Many of the younger patrons returned for the Sunday afternoon to enjoy both a good laugh and a good cry at the genuinely inventive, touching and funny summer hit ‘Me and Earl and the Dying Girl ‘.

The Saturday night screening of Alex Fegan’s documentary ‘Older Than Ireland’ proved to be a huge hit. Featuring thirty men and women all born before 1916 this highly entertaining documentary invites us to explore our living history through the reminisces and observations of this group of remarkable centenarians. Gossipy, irreverent and and wryly wise Fegan’s film had the audience totally engaged and eager to participate in the Q&A session with the director which followed the screening.

Other popular documentary films included ‘The Salt of the Earth’ a beautiful homage to the life of photographer and environmentalist Sebastiano Salgado and ‘My Curious Documentary’ Adam Law’s profoundly moving insight into the lives of people with autism. Brett Morgan’s ‘Montage of Heck’ a visceral journey through Kurt Cobain’s life had the audience mesmerized proving the pulling power of Cobain and the importance of innovative filmmaking to tell an incredible story.

Foreign language features were a strong element of the programming once again, with ‘Force Majeure’, ‘Marshland’, ‘Baby(a)lone ‘ and ‘The Tribe ‘ proving to be thought-provoking and absorbing choices.

The festival club took place once again in Adamson’s bar in Clones and provided entertainment, relaxation and a terrifically atmospheric place to chat and unwind after the screenings. Live music was provided by ‘A Kinda Blutack ‘, ‘The Shuck Dodgers’, ‘The Thin Thieves’, and on closing night Nialler9 treated everyone to an extra long DJ set to celebrate the end of another great weekend in Clones !

The Francie awards (Clones’ answer to the Oscars) took place on Sunday night, and competition to scoop the prestigious Francie awards (sculpted by local artist Jason Crowley) was fierce. The winners were – Vincent Gallagher ‘Love is a Sting’ – Best Experimental Film, Patrick Mc Dermott ‘A Beautiful Death’ for Best Documentary.

The 48 hour challenge in which five teams race to complete a short film in 48 hours over the course of the festival saw The Audience Award scooped by MT Pockets Production for ‘Soul mates’ while the the Judges Award went to ‘Noise’ by The Blowouts Productions.

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