Catalyst International Film Festival returns for its 5th edition

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

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

Catalyst International Film Festival presents a film programme that prioritises stories and storytellers currently under-represented on screen and behind the camera. 

Dr Susan Liddy, festival founder and director, said: “It’s hard to believe that Catalyst International Film Festival 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. 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 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 20 April by three experienced practitioners: 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 20 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 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 the festival’s 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 19-20 April 

The Festival will present an exhilarating slate of documentary shorts, International shorts (Friday19th April) Irish shorts and a family friendly programme (Saturday 20th ) at the Belltable curated by French/Tunisian live action programmer, Celine Roustan, and 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 voice. 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 gives the viewer an opportunity 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, thought-provoking for others, all are deeply engaging and compelling and provide an authentic insight into the different experiences of each of the main characters.

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

The festival is dedicated to supporting and championing screenwriters; particularly those from under-represented groups or who write authentically 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 presents Shaping the Future in Screenwriting: Industry Day on Friday 19 April, celebrating 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.

On Saturday 20 April Catalyst welcomes IFTA 2024 nominated directors Christine Molloy (Rose Plays Julie; The Future Tense; Kin; Baltimore) and Hannah Quinn (The Gone; Vikings: Valhalla; Fate: The Winx Saga; The Stranger) for an unmissable Directors Masterclass with these two mega talents.

Saturday afternoon sees two panel discussions exploring the working relationship between the screenwriter and the script editor 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 festival is excited to screen two acclaimed features Baltimore( Friday 19)  and Verdigris ( Saturday 20)

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, but 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 8pm at the Belltable Theatre on Friday, 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 8pm 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 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 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, we 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.

Award categories:

– Best Irish Short Film
– Best International Short Film
– Best Documentary Short Film
– First Time Filmmaker Award
– National Student Film Award 
– Short Screenplay Award

-Catalyst International Film Festival Short Documentary Award Bursary

The calibre of Catalyst judges and their willingness to become involved in the festival is testament to its growing reputation and this year includes IFTA nominated director Lisa Mulcahy, screenwriter Paul Walker, screenwriter/producer Victoria Thomas and documentary filmmaker Ross Whitaker. 

Catalyst International Film Festival will run from 18th – 20th April across Limerick City.

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