By Ruth Cawley

Screen Ireland will be featured in several prominent film festivals in 2024, all based in Ireland. These events are lined up to showcase interesting and daring new submissions from acclaimed and newcomer filmmakers and offer industry professionals the opportunity to network with one another. Festivals are also a prime space for students and recent graduates to break into the film industry and start building connections. The following list outlines the hottest spots for screenings and ceremonies and socialising (oh my!) with the Irish film communities in the New Year of 2024. 

1) Dublin International Film Festival (DIFF)

Come January 12th, the DIFF 2024 will confirm which of the many submitted feature films, documentaries, and short films will be screened at the main event taking place in Dublin this February. As one of the most iconic events of the season in Ireland, the DIFF offers the best of the best entries to provide enthralling and diverse cinematic experiences for the masses. 

Apart from screenings and promoting collaborations, the event awards accolades to individual features, shorts, and documentaries to mark the contributions of creators to the industry. Its most prominent award is called the Volta which has previously been bestowed to the likes of Julie Andrews, Brendan Gleeson, Al Pacino, Martin Sheen, and Angela Lansbury for their individual work in cinema. For the past twenty years, the DIFF has attracted a wealth of talent and experienced professionals to help cultivate the future of the industry and its newcomers through workshops, informative panels, and networking events. One of its ultimate goals is to increase diversity in contemporary cinema by encouraging filmmakers to break boundaries of genres and explore different narrative visions. 

The DIFF 2024 is scheduled to begin on February 22 and end on March 2, in a hybrid presentation style. Film submissions for 2024 closed last October, but all interested parties are highly encouraged to submit for the 2025 event. 

2) Galway Film Fleadh

Is there a better time to attend a festival than in the middle of summer? ‘Fleadh’ is the Irish word to describe celebrations or festivals. Galway plays host to this international film festival annually where approximately one hundred films are showcased. 

There are categories dedicated specifically to Irish-made films and international films, all ranging from features to shorts to documentaries to animation. The Galway Film Fleadh invites experts in multiple film-related fields to speak at masterclasses. Past notable speakers have been Pierce Brosnan and Saoirse Ronan on acting, Michael Moore on directing, Lisa McGee on screenwriting, and Cartoon Saloon on animation. The Fleadh also facilitates more informal social activities for additional networking opportunities. This includes breakfasts, barbeques, and short panels. The Fleadh is ultimately a highly enjoyable week for festival-goers in Galway and a fantastic learning experience for students with cinematic aspirations. 

Submissions for the Galway Film Fleadh are open until May 3, 2024. Event dates for the Galway Film Fleadh 2024 are planned for July 9-14. 

3) Cork International Film Festival (CIFF)

The cold wintry weather doesn’t stop the celebration of cinema in Ireland. The CIFF is a hotspot for premiering highly acclaimed Irish and international films. It is considered one of the most valued and prominent events of Ireland’s cultural calendar and receives accreditation from the Academy Awards, the BAFTA, the BIFA, and the European Academy Awards. 

This festival also offers a range of fascinating programmes catered to industry professionals and wider audiences. For example, Green Screen is a strand of the CIFF for films centring on environmental themes and Guilty Pleasures features cult classics. With these wide range of offerings, there is something for everyone. Eleven awards are bestowed upon the best entries in several categories, e.g. animation, fiction, documentary, and experimental cinema. Due to its high level of prestige and reputation for showcasing acclaimed films, it is an ideal event for new entrants and seasoned industry professionals. 

The CIFF has run for sixty-eight years with the latest event scheduled for November 9-26, 2024 in Cork. 

4) Catalyst International Film Festival

Ireland’s flagship festival for addressing the widespread issue of underrepresentation on screen and behind the scenes of films. This festival features content that promotes gender equality, diversity, and inclusion. It has the overall aim of contributing in a meaningful way to the film industry by focusing on the talents, efforts, and experiences of individuals. Ruth Negga is the ambassador of the Catalyst International Film Festival and is passionate about increasing visibility for creators who struggle to compete in wider mainstream media or festivals. This festival was organised to give these storytellers a platform to engage with audiences, expand their pool of opportunities, and give a voice to their struggles. 

Additional activities in the Catalyst International Film Festival include panels, debates, workshops, and in-depth interviews which focus on the place of diversity in film and challenge audiences to think more critically about the content. 

The Catalyst International Film Festival takes place in Limerick on April 18-20, 2024. Submissions are open until February 6, 2024 for all categories. 

5) Silk Road International Film Festival (SRIFF)

Since its inception in 2012, the Silk Road International Film Festival aims to bring creators and audiences together through a diverse scope of cinematic experiences and styles. Now, it is an internationally acclaimed festival with a mission to break boundaries and encourage collaboration between cultures and people. 

New categories have been introduced over the years to include documentaries, feature films, short films, student films, animation, and music videos. Some entries are featured in the Belt & Road selection which specifically focuses on Asian, Middle Eastern, Arab, African, Mediterranean, and European cinema. Like other festivals, the SRIFF hosts panels and interviews with film professionals and offers extensive opportunities for students to showcase their work and engage with the industry. In the past, world-renowned director Abel Ferrara and editor Tony Kearns have attended the event to share their knowledge and experiences. The festival offers a ripe opportunity for those interested in cross-collaboration and different styles of cinema to experience new ideas and perspectives.  

For its twelfth year running, the SRIFF will take place in Dublin in 2024. Dates are to be confirmed. 

Keep watching Screen Ireland’s festival space on their website for additional information on these festivals and updates on featured content. And we are happy to announce that Screen Ireland are back as sponsors for SMEDIAS 2024!

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