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Is that a new film festival opening over there?

Plans afoot for ‘Fantastic’ film festival in Clare

MOVIE fans are set to enjoy a brand new film festival launching in Ennis which will quite literally be ‘fantastic’, writes Jessica Quinn.

Plans are underway in the county capital to develop a film festival dedicated to the ‘Fantastic’ genre for the Halloween season. ‘Fantastic’ in this sense acts as an umbrella term and includes everything from horror and sci-fi to thrillers and fantasy and it is surging in popularity in the US.

According to Ennis Chamber CEO Margaret O’Brien the development of the festival is at an “advanced” stage, with a dedicated committee working on bringing the plans to life in various venues across the county capital.

Work is ongoing with full details yet to be announced, including the festival’s name, however there are talks underway for a world leading fan magazine for the Fantastic genre to be aligned with the festival.

Ms O’Brien explains, “We were always looking for a festival for the Halloween period, I had worked on a community festival in Ennis for a few years so I knew there was a passion out there.

“We wanted to do something that had a business and public focus, something like a boutique festival that could bring people to the town and which we could grow. Something that would bring business to Ennis, but also something that had a community aspect also, something people could participate in who live in the town. One of the ideas was a film festival as we don’t have any in Ennis.”

Initially with it being focused on Halloween it had been planned to host a horror and thriller festival, but after carrying out research it was decided to instead embrace the popular Fantastic genre.

“The Fantastic genre is becoming the biggest in the US, and it covers horror, sci-fi, psychological thrillers and fantasy. It’s such a popular genre that it seems like a good idea for us to tap into it now.”

Ms O’Brien adds that hosting a festival like this will require a “sizeable budget” with fundraising efforts to be made to bring the committee’s ideas to fruition.

Clare’s reputation as a scenic location for films alongside the growth in the film-making sector in neighbouring counties and right here bolstered the idea of hosting a festival in Ennis.

“There is a burgeoning film industry in Limerick and they are building studios in Galway. Clare is being used as a location all the time, so there are a lot of people staying and coming into Ennis and seeing what we have to offer.

“In the last few years Ennis Chamber has been involved with three businesses that work in the film sector. We have Motion Picture Licensing Company in the Clare Technology Park looking after publishing and licensing copyrights for films shown in Ireland. We have animators who we work with. We have these companies right under our noses and this is a sector that can grow.

“Our niche destination plan which was led with Mark O’Connell of Repucon identified that creativity and culture are key areas for Ennis, not just in terms of tourism, but as areas of growth. This festival really is ticking all the right boxes.”

EU LEADER funding was secured through the Clare Local Development Company for consultants to undergo a feasibility study and give guidance on the development of the festival.

Producer and programmer Maeve McGrath has come on board for the project to work with the committee featuring representatives from venues in Ennis and industry.

These include Orla Flanagan from glór, film-maker and photographer Paul Corey, Donie Lyne of the Queens Hotel along with other film fans.

As part of the plans for the festival Ennis Chamber recently sent out a survey seeking input from the public.

Ms O’Brien said that the responses were “great” and she expressed appreciation to everyone who took the time to get involved in the survey.

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