Galway Film Fleadh celebrates 20 years

This year's festival includes Peter O'Toole tribute

Set in the ancient coastal Irish city of Galway, the 20th annual Galway Film Fleadh, or festival, offers an ideal combination of winding medieval streets, lively summer pubs and an eclectic weeklong program for film buffs. The organizers have put together an agenda that offers a diversity of films, events and tributes, including an evening with Galway-born Peter O'Toole.

The international features program for the July 8-13 fest includes such titles as reincarnation-themed "Om Shanti Om," 2007's "Gone for a Dance" -- a must for movie musical enthusiasts -- and IFC Films' "Lemon Tree," the tale of a Palestinian woman who refuses to allow the destruction of her lemon tree by Israeli security forces.

"I guarantee that the films won't disappoint," festival managing director Miriam Allen said of the 2008 lineup.

The 20th fleadh (Gaelic for festival) also maintains its tradition as a supporter of indigenous Irish films. The event will feature the world premieres of a broad mix of Irish films, including this year's ballet drama "Our Wonderful Home," the teen romantic comedy "Summer of the Flying Saucer" and the thriller "Alarm."

Another Irish film high on the agenda is director Lance Daly's "Kisses," which follows two 10-year-olds who run away from dysfunctional families only to discover they need more than everyday luck to survive the murky world of inner-city Dublin.

On the nonfiction front, the festival will showcase a broad range of Irish and international documentaries, including 2007's British crime family saga "A Very British Gangster"; Magnolia's recount of Twin Towers tightrope walker Philippe Petit, "Man On Wire"; and 2007's "Note by Note," which follows a Steinway concert grand piano from creation on the manufacturing floor to being graced by a musician's fingertips.

Building on the success of last year, the Galway Film Fleadh's Out on Film series will screen a selection of gay, lesbian and transgender films including 2007's "Finn's Girl," 2006's "Beautiful Daughters" and 2007's "Red Without Blue."

The festival will pay special tribute to O'Toole and screen a selection of his films, including 1999's film version of the play "Jeffrey Bernard Is Unwell" and 1976's "Rogue Male."

Jessica Lange also will step into the spotlight at Galway with the fest paying homage to the actress and screening several of her films, including 1979's "All That Jazz," 1985's "Sweet Dreams" and 2006's "Bonneville." Fans of Lange will be treated to an Actors Masterclass given by the actress.
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