FILM clubs are a relatively new phenomenon in Kildare. Athy Film Club, established nearly a year, is going from strength to strength. It’s a new social outlet for the south Kildare town based in the new Athy Community College campus and it is thriving.
“We want to establish ourselves as an integral part of Athy vibrant social and cultural scene,” said chairman Ray McAleena. “We want to give our members a different cinema experience, you won’t get hotdogs, popcorn or the latest blockbuster from the States, but you will get great films, new and old, from anywhere in the world - films you wanted to see, but missed, and films you didn’t know were out there.”
The aim of the Film Club is to give local audiences the opportunity to see a range of world and classic movies that rarely make it to commercial cinema and it is certainly living up to this. Among the film highlights over the past year for the Athy club was the screening and Q&A sessions with the filmmakers of award-winning Independent Irish films The Pipe, His & Hers and The Pyjama Girls.
The Leader caught up with the club last Friday night, February 24, for its screening of IFTA-nominated short film Noreen and a Q&A session with its director, actor Domhnall Gleeson (who recently won two IFTA awards), and producers Ciaran Deeney and Juliette Bonass of independent film production company El Zorrero.
The club also screened two more short films, God and Napoleon and, the somewhat controversial, What Will Survive of Us. There was a large turnout and the Q&A session was lively.
Also in attendance was Kildare County Council Arts Officer Lucina Russell. Speaking to the Leader, she said: “As a social network, a film club is a very safe environment for a lot of single female members and new members of the community who do not like the pub scene.
“And in particular, it is a really good showcase for filmmakers from Kildare and nationally. It is a really good exposure for independent Irish films. To get a view and met filmmakers is also a fantastic opportunity and lets you hear the story behind the film.”
Rising Irish star Domhnall Gleeson, who appeared in recent blockbusters True Grit and Harry Potter, said he was delighted with the showing, and praised the hard working club in its role in embracing short independent Irish films.
“We were just talking to Ray there about how many films they have shown and the range of films over the past year. Locally they say there is just multiplexes in other towns and that there is no cinema in the Athy or anywhere close to them.
“It is probably hard to see any independent films then and looking at the film schedule here over the next year, they would be films you would love to see on the big screen. It’s really important and the fact we get to show our short films down here is just brilliant.”
Currently Kildare has four film clubs in Maynooth, Naas, Athy and Kildare town. The closing date for this year’s Kildare County Council Film Bursary, with a prize worth E3,500 and three studio-making days, is March 13.