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Galway 2014: White Shadow, The Quiet Hour, Wetlands, A Nightingale Falling & Standing Aside, Watching

This is a guest post by Conor Bent. Follow all our Galway Film Fleadh 2014 coverage here.

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White Shadow


01An Albino boy in Tanzania flees from the lucrative trade of selling his body parts to witch doctors to make potions. This Ryan Gosling produced feature is a stunning exploration of one of the most disheartening superstitious practices in Africa. The director Noaz Deshe brings a visceral earthy approach to the material also explored in the documentary In the Shadow of the Sun.

Hamisi Bazili delivers an amazing performance as Alias, he remains defiant despite the constant threat of being hacked to death. As he flees the bush to work for his his uncle, the poverty that drives people to these murderous acts is on full display as he searches for computer parts in a dumping ground.

The film manages to find flashes of romance and surreal humour in his relationships with his uncle’s daughter and his albino friend in hiding in the Bush. As he transitions between the locations the timeline can become confusing – not helped by inventive, yet disorientating camera work.

A film of modern Africa where belief in the supernatural pervades peoples desires, but the film is ultimately grounded by their humanity.

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The Quiet Hour


02A dystopian Sci-Fi filmed in Tipperary which, despite its interesting John Wyndhamesque premise, never really sparks to life. Dakota Blue Richards (Skins) is a 19-year-old girl surviving with her blind brother after Alien ships arrived in the sky and begun harvesting the planet.

When she captures Karl Davies (Game of Thrones’ Alton Lannister) while breaking into her farm, she comes under siege from a gang who may be just as dangerous as the aliens.

Filmed in dark, dreary grey tones, this film fails to generate any suspense from the siege scenario. The stilted dialogue between the leads isn’t helped by there lack of chemistry.

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Wetlands (Feuchtgebiete)


03Body fluid–obsessed teenager Helen (Carla Juri) describes herself as a living pussy hygiene experiment. After an intimate shaving accident, she ends up stuck in the hospital, where she skateboards through the halls and reminisces about her culinary masturbation experiments, and used-tampon swapping with her uninhibited best friend, Corinna. All the while, she charms a male nurse with her sex talk and schemes to reunite her parents.

Based on a controversial book this vulgar, funny and poignant film portrays acts that rarely appear on film. Carla Juri is magnificent as the acerbic Helen, yet is clearly still hurt by her parents divorce.

Visually inventive it begins with an animated sequence zooming into a pubic hair to show it teeming with life. The film moves along at a zippy pace and is only let down slightly with a sentimental dénouement.

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A Nightingale Falling


04Based on a novel by P.J Curtis, A Nightingale Falling features two sisters alone in a big farm household who rescue a wounded British soldier during the War of Independence. Tara the elder sister decides to keep him hidden in the house as he recuperates, fearing angering both sides of the divide. The relationship between the sister’s strain as they both develop feelings for him.

This is the sort of melodrama where everyone’s constantly stating their feelings outright or with glares and the overbearing score reflects this. The plot stretches credulity in asking us to believe that the soldier just doesn’t leave the household. His character is completely undeveloped so we never get to see why he has cast this spell on the sisters.

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Standing Aside, Watching


standAn actress returns to her small home town in Greece. Arriving by train (the first of mainly allusions to the western genre), she quickly finds a job as a teacher and a young boyfriend. However she also discovers her unwillingness to kowtow to misogynist authority figures which threatens her new life.

With repeated shots of abandoned buildings and harsh lighting modern Greece seems as a desolate place where “only Albanians want to work”. The film has a realism that dissipates towards the climax which never quite comes together.

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