Showcasing on the big screen


First Mayo International Film Festival takes place in Castlebar this weekend

Ciara Moynihan

With audiences flooding back to theatres and a pile of yet-to-be-seen films, the timing couldn’t be better for a film festival. The Linenhall Arts Centre is hosting the inaugural Mayo International Film Festival (MIFF) from February 25 to 27, and the line-up is sure to get film buffs stocking up on popcorn.
The three-day event’s aim is to provide a much-needed platform for independent filmmakers and smaller production companies. It also looks to support and celebrate Mayo’s own talent, and so contains a category specifically for Mayo-based filmmakers and Mayo-connected films – ‘Best of Mayo’.
Running this Friday, Saturday and Sunday, MIFF will comprise eight separate programmes across a wide range of genres. There will be a whopping 73 short films, documentaries and animations from Ireland and around the world to choose from, including nine world premieres and 12 Irish premieres.
The ‘Best of Mayo’ category will include the world premiere of Tom Hughes’ animation ‘The Loneliest Whale in the World’; dark supernatural comedy ‘Afterlife’, written by Mike Heneghan; post-apocalyptic live action short ‘RIP to the Rescue!’; and the animation ‘Girl and Robot’, written by Castlebar’s Joe Loftus.
Be sure to catch ‘Be Positive’, a romantic comedy about a sad and unlucky man called Ben. The films is shot in Westport, the hometown of its director and co-writer, Brian Durcan. Cathal Mac Reamoinn, from down the road in Murrisk, offers a short comedy ‘You’ve got Mail’, in which the main character tries to get a date by leaving the perfect voicemail – with hilarious and heartbreaking results.
If horror’s your thing, check out animated ‘Selene’ by Castlebar actress, writer and director, Ce’Nedra Cullen O’Brien, but if you’d rather lose yourself in Mayo’s hypnotic coastal landscapes, go for ‘Faoi Thoinn ’s Thar Toinn’, which depicts our beaches, shores and cliffs and probes their cultural significance.
More festival highlights from Ireland include ‘My Other Suit is Human’, Andrew Paul Montague’s film on a mother’s grief; the the documentary ‘Making Tom’, which follows the emotional journey of the making of a statue of singer Big Tom McBride and its unveiling in his home town Castleblayney; ‘The Yellow Dress’ in which a daughter sets up her cancer-surviving mother on ‘perfect date’; and ‘Sit Down and Shut Up’, a documentary on the David versus Goliath story of the 1980 European Cup match between Limerick and Real Madrid.
Look out too for ‘Broken: A Lockdown Story’, ‘Shea and Hannah’, ‘The Invisible Boy’, ‘4x4’ and ‘Kathleen Was Here’.

International offerings include the Canadian film ‘Walks’, in which an older man, faced with a difficult diagnosis, chooses to deal with the news in his own way. The Israeli documentary ‘Dangerous Dog’ centres on on Yuval Mendelovich, known as ‘the angel of dangerous dogs’, who has been rescuing abused Pit Bull dogs across Israel and the occupied Palestinian West bank for 20 years.
The intriguing UK film ‘Moment of Impact’ tells the story of Alan McFadyen’s famous kingfisher photograph, which took him six years and 720,000 attempts to capture and was in dedication to his late grandfather.
The festival will also mark the world premiere of UK dystopian animation ‘Flotsam and Jetsam’, in which a bitter endless winter on Earth in the 26th century, Flotsam & Jetsam follows the journey of a robot, abandoned by the civilisation of people it once served, as it adventures through the frozen wastes and eventually an abandoned city in search of sanctuary and to find out if it is truly the last of its kind.”
Vietnamese film ‘The Khe Sanh Peace Garden’ is a touching an hopeful film about a medevac helicopter pilot who found peace within himself and his mortal enemies when he attempts to build a peace garden at the combat base where he was stationed during the Vietnam War.
The theme of love is revisited in Austrian short, ‘At the Strawberry Stand’, when a man falls in love at first sight with a woman who sells him a punnet of strawberries.

Awards ceremony
No festival would be complete without an awards ceremony, and so MIFF will conclude with a special awards ceremony on Sunday, when six winners will be announced. The awards categories are Irish Short Film, International Short Film, Irish Short Documentary, International Short Documentary, Animation and Best of Mayo.
Selecting the winners is a eight-strong judging panel of highly experienced and esteemed industry professionals, featuring two-time Animation Academy Award nominee Darragh O’Connell from Brown Bag Films, filmmaker and artist of documentary and experimental work Vivienne Dick, and Fantastic Film producers Brendan McCarthy and John McDonnell.  

Ticketing options include individual programme passes or an ‘All Access’ festival pass. For more, visit and