Saoirse Ronan West Cork-bound for one of Ireland's most unique film festivals

Hollywood's Saoirse Ronan is West Cork-bound in a few weeks' time for one of the country's most unique film festivals.

The award-winning Lady Bird star had been spotted early last year in Schull which hosts the summertime Fastnet Film Festival.

The Mary Queen of Scots and Brooklyn actress was unavailable to return months later to the Mizen peninsula village for the 2018 festival but organisers kept in touch with the Golden Globe winner.

And the 25-year-old agreed to attend the 2019 five-day event which commences midweek May 26.

The festival plans to screen two of her films, Hanna and Lady Bird, and the actress will participate afterwards in a Q&A session with Dublin-based producer John Kelleher, who is chairman of the Fastnet Film Festival.

Hilary McCarthy, communications director, said: "Saoirse will stay for the duration of the festival. She comes to West Cork occasionally and while she couldn't come last year, we kept in touch and she said she would love to come this May.

To get a world-renowned actress, a young female actress with such an amazing career, is just phenomenal for the festival to have her as a guest.

The Fastnet event is unique in that while 13 full feature-length films and 300 short films will be screened, the village does not have a permanent cinema. But a number of temporary venues, including the offshore Long Island cinema, ensure thousands of film fans and visitors are never disappointed.

Ms McCarthy said the festival has been very lucky to continue to attract high-profile producers, directors and screenwriters over the years.

Actor Bryony Flatman at the launch of the Fastnet Film Festival. Picture: Hilary McCarthy

"We have developed the event into something that filmmakers feel they are part of, in terms of its creation, they feel ownership of the festival and when they do some to Schull, we ensure they get out and about, enjoy the music, have boat trips and make it a family holiday."

Meanwhile, scores of filmmakers were among the guests at a Cinematographer's Party in Cork's Crane Lane Theatre for the launch of the 2019 festival.

It was also announced Dubliner Roddy Doyle will host a scriptwriter’s workshop and take part in a Q&A during the May event.

Academy award-winning film historian Kevin Brownlow will also screen his restored silent film Smouldering Fire which will be accompanied by world-famous composer and conductor Carl Davis on a grand piano. This unique event will be possible thanks to the support of Tomar Trust and UCC.

Roddy Doyle

Other guests announced were Paddy Breathnach, Carmel Winters, Moe Dunford, Sarah Greene, Jim Sheridan, Ed Guiney, Hazel Doupe and many more.

The line-up, organisers said, is unprecedented with over 50 expert guests taking part in the late May festival.

The festival's World Cinema Programme will, this year, focus on Iceland to include three features and a short film programme curated by the Icelandic Film Institute.

The Fastnet Film Festival has carved out a niche as a major showcase for Irish and international short film production, focusing on the craft of film and has been held in high regard on a local, national and global level for a number of years.

The programme includes a series of seminars, masterclasses and workshops covering sound, screenwriting, casting, auditioning, score composition, documentary making, creating content on a mobile phone, shorts to feature films and more.


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