Could the Galway Film Fleadh Be the First Festival Impacted if SAG-AFTRA Votes to Strike?


With a SAG-AFTRA strike now looking certain, the eyes of festival publicity teams and programmers may be on Venice and Toronto as major upcoming events likely to be severely impacted should U.S. actors be prevented from promoting their movies as per strike rules.

But on the West coast of Ireland, a slightly smaller festival happens to be taking place right as the union’s National Board meets on Thursday to officially decide whether to call a work stoppage, a decision that could immediately affect the event’s screenings.

The 35th edition of the Galway Film Fleadh opened in the coastal city on Tuesday night with the world premiere of The Miracle Club, starring Maggie Smith, Kathy Burke and Laura Linney. While that screening was watched by a packed house at the Town Hall, another world premiere is happening on Thursday just hours after the critical vote, with its lead star potentially facing the prospect of being unable to attend.

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The Martini Shot stars Matthew Modine as an ailing movie director as he begins to shoot what he believes to be his final film. The existential drama — from director Stephen Wallis and also starring Derek Jacobi, John Cleese, Stuart Townsend and Fiona Glascott — is due to premiere at 9.30 p.m. local time, a full four-and-a-half hours after the strike vote. The Hollywood Reporter understands that Modine is already in Galway for the premiere, but should a SAG-AFTRA strike be called, union strike rules would likely prevent him from attending the premiere to promote the film.

Interestingly, Modine also stars in Oppenheimer, getting its U.K. premiere on Thursday night in London. Bracing themselves for the impact of a potential strike, Universal has shifted the red carpet back by one hour in the hope that its stars — including Cillian Murphy, Robert Downey Jr., Matt Damon, Emily Blunt and Florence Pugh — have time to pose for photos and conduct press interviews without going against SAG-AFTRA strike rules.

Modine – who in another interesting twist ran against current SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher in the union’s 2021 leadership election – is also in Galway to take part in a Masterclass on Saturday, but THR hears that, as this isn’t directly linked to a film or any promotional work, this should be unaffected.

Elsewhere at the festival, the Galway Film Fair has become a significant industry event and co-production hub, with producers from around the world attending alongside decision-makers from various film funds, distributors and platforms, including the likes of Magnolia, Mubi, Neon, Film4 and Bankside Films. Kicking off on Thursday, the industry arm, and its numerous meetings and talks already scheduled, is unlikely to be impacted by the strike, but one source said it would “be the topic of the marketplace.”

In a quote sent to THR, Galway Film Fleadh CEO Miriam Allen expressed her solidarity with the unions, but also noted the vital nature of the festival.

“Whilst we are very supportive of both the actors and the writers in their efforts to strike a fair deal with the major studios and streamers, we believe it’s still important to keep bringing our audiences our films,” she said.

The Galway Film Fleadh closes July 16 with the screening of the Cyndi Lauper doc Let the Canary Sing, with the singer set to attend.


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