Catalyst International Film Festival 2024

Catalyst International Film Festival returns for its 5th edition

Based in Limerick, Catalyst International Film Festival will host the 5th edition of the festival. This event presents films, panel discussions, workshops and networking events in venues across the city from the 18th – 20th of April. 

Dr Susan Liddy, festival founder and director, said: “It’s hard to believe that Catalyst International FilmFestival is facing into its 5th year! The festival has gone from strength since our launch in 2020 -just as the pandemic lockdown was announced!  All our in-person plans had to be cancelled at the last minute as we hurriedly moved online. That we not only survived but thrived is testament to our small but dedicated team headed by festival/programme manager Aoife O Toole. We wouldn’t be where we are today but for the enormous goodwill from the industry generally and from individual practitioners and organisations across the country. This year we present our biggest festival yet and I can say with confidence and gratitude-  here’s to the next 5 years!”

Dr Susan Liddy

Dr. Liddy also announced two exciting new award additions to this year’s festival slate. The inaugural Short Documentary Bursary Award, 2024 is open to emerging filmmakers. The successful applicant will be awarded €10,000 to support the making of a short documentary. The Catalyst International Film Festival is committed to promoting diversity and inclusion in the film industry, and this award is a key part of that mission.

Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed on Saturday 20th by three experienced practitioners. These include documentary filmmaker Alison Millar (Lyra); Joe Lawlor (Baltimore) and Vanessa Gildea (The 34th). The recipient of the bursary will be announced at the Awards Reception in the Belltable on Saturday 20th of April. 

The National Student Award (€1000) seeks to locate and spotlight upcoming student talent. Third level student filmmakers from right across the country have submitted work sensitive to the festival ethos and we are excited to support burgeoning film talent.  

Catalyst will present a full programme for students on Thursday 18th of April which centres on instilling an awareness of equality, diversity and inclusion in all aspects of filmmaking.  It includes an Interactive Masterclass with screenwriter and director Laura O’Shea, editor and educator Phil Shanahan and actor Johanna Thea.

The selection of short films curated especially for younger audiences are examples of excellence in short filmmaking and meet our equality, diversity and inclusion criteria. The day will include a Meet the Industry panel and Q+A with participants representing different careers in the screen industries. They will discuss their role, their working lives and share with students their journey from school to set to screen!

An exclusive screening of this year’s first NextGen Perspectives Outreach Programme of short films, again focused on creating an aware of diversity and inclusion, will conclude the day with the NextGen Perspectives Award presentation to the winning school.   

Short Film Programme 19th – 20th of April 

The festival will present an exhilarating slate of documentary shorts, International shorts (Friday 19th of April) Irish shorts and a family-friendly programme (Saturday 20th of April) at the Belltable curated by our French/Tunisian live-action programmer, Celine Roustan, and the festival team’s documentary programmer, filmmaker Vanessa Gildea.  

This year’s short documentary programme pays tribute to the power of personal testimony as a force for change and shines a light on the audacity of the human spirit. These films reveal the people behind the creative and personal struggle to be seen, to be heard and to be accepted. The filmmakers combine craft, visual poetry and sensitivity of approach to bring us the beautiful diversity of existence. 

Six films comprise this year’s international shorts programme and spotlight a diversity of narrative and directorial voices. From North America to Europe these stories feature characters that have often been overlooked on screen or whose perspective is rarely captured with authenticity. These different experiences are brought to the screen through different lenses and styles, with elaborate settings for some and very simple ones for others. All have an immersive quality that allows the viewer to experience life through the protagonists’ eyes. Diverse in terms of storytelling, this program is also diverse tonally, with dark comedy, satire, psychological thriller and one animation film.

The two programmes of Irish short films in this year’s line-up are a true testament to the diversity of directorial voices and screenwriting talent that Irish cinema has to offer. From genre to romcom, from social drama to satire, all convey powerful narratives and protagonists whose stories are often not seen on screen.

Curated as an emotional ride, the selected films use the cinematic medium differently to tackle their characters’ conflicts. Heart-warming for some, and thought-provoking for others, all are deeply engaging and compelling. They also provide an authentic insight into the different experiences of each of the main characters.

Shaping the Future in Screenwriting: Industry Day on Friday 19th of April

The Catalyst International Film Festival is dedicated to supporting and championing screenwriters. Particularly those from under-represented groups or who write about underrepresented communities.  In collaboration with the National Talent Academy for Film and TV Drama and with the support of the Writers Guild of Ireland, Catalyst will also present Shaping the Future in Screenwriting: Industry Day on Friday the 19th of April. This day will celebrate the importance of screenwriting as a craft and art form.  The day will include a range of panels, interviews, Q&As, and workshops on pitching and writing short films. 

Recognising the pivotal role of screenwriting in diversifying the industry and promoting diverse representation, this dedicated industry day will showcase the importance of facilitating authentic stories as the initial and most crucial step in creating dynamic, diverse screenplays and characters.

Guests include Ursula Rani Sarma (screenwriter Bodkin 2024; Smother 2021; The Split Up forthcoming BBC), Niamh Moriarty (actor Best Interests BBC 2023), Victoria Thomas (screenwriter and producer/founder Republic of Story), Patricia Kelly, Paul Fitzsimons and Geraldine McAlinden (Verdigris (2023) team), Jennifer Davidson (screenwriter Fair City and chair of WGI), Tony Schumacher (screenwriter BAFTA award-winning The Responder (2022) and upcoming season 2) and Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor (screenwriters and directors – Baltimore (2023). Workshops are delivered by script editors Mary Kate O Flanagan and Elaine Walsh.

Welcoming IFTA-nominated talent on Saturday 20th of April

On Saturday 20th of April, Catalyst will also welcome IFTA 2024 nominated directors Christine Molloy (Rose Plays JulieThe Future TenseKin; Baltimore) and Hannah Quinn (The GoneVikings: ValhallaFate: The Winx SagaThe Stranger) for an unmissable Directors Masterclass with these two mega talents.

Saturday afternoon sees two-panel discussions. Both explore the working relationship between the screenwriter and the script editor. These will be followed by a discussion about the pros and cons of starting your own production company. Participants include Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, Marissa Aroy; Clare filmmaker, Nell Hensey; screenwriter and emerging producer, Jennifer Davidson and Paul Ryan, Film in Limerick.  

The Catalyst International Film Festival presents two acclaimed features 

Baltimore (2023) is based on the infamous true story of an English heiress who became a revolutionary. Debutante Rose Dugdale (Imogen Poots) enjoys a life of wealth and privilege. Unfortunately, her rebellious nature soon leads her down a militant path. Amidst the political turmoil of the 1970s, her sympathy towards the IRA’s conflict evolves into radicalisation, culminating in an armed raid on an Irish estate with three comrades.

However, when a heist takes a violent turn, is Rose prepared to face the devastating consequences?  The screening will begin at 8 pm at the Belltable Theatre on Friday. This will be followed by a Q+A with Directors Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor.

Verdigris (2023) tells the story of two very different women, Marian and Jewel, who become unlikely friends as they realise that their similarities far outweigh their differences.

Written and directed by Patricia Kelly and starring Geraldine McAlinden (Bloodlands, Bad Sisters), Maya O’Shea (Normal People), Michael James Ford (Harry Wild, Striking Out) and Killian Filan (Normal People). Verdigris has been nominated in five categories in the upcoming IFTA Film Awards: Best Film; Best  Director- Patricia  Kelly; Best  Script -Patricia Kelly; Best Actress- Geraldine McAlinden, Best Supporting Actress- Maya O’Shea. The screening will begin at 8 pm at the Belltable Theatre on Friday.

As part of Catalyst’s 2024 Outreach Programme, both features will be subtitled in Ukrainian. With thanks to Screen Ireland.  

This year’s Award categories 2024 will be presented across the festival with the various categories below including new additions to the inaugural National Student Film Award (€1000) in association with TUS Digital Arts and Media Department, Limerick, designed to recognize and celebrate the work of emerging student filmmakers from across the country. 

The Short Documentary Bursary Award

The inaugural Short Documentary Bursary Award, 2024. The award is open to emerging filmmakers. The successful applicant will be awarded €10,000 to support the making of a short documentary. Filmmaking teams should incorporate people from diverse backgrounds and aim for a gender balance in the following three areas: on-screen representation, story content and diversity behind the camera.

Thematically, the team at Catalyst expect the film to creatively explore some aspect/aspects of equality, diversity and inclusion in Ireland. At least one paid internship must be available for a member of a group traditionally underrepresented in the screen industries.

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