The start of something great at Subtitle film festival

How satisfying it is to be watching a film and to realise from early on that it’s something you’re going to enjoy every step of the way – and the same held true for the inaugural Subtitle film festival, which came to Kilkenny from Monday to Sunday of last week.

From those who brought us the now celebrated Cat Laughs and Kilkenomics festivals comes this new and most welcome addition to the festival calendar year. And make no mistake about it – plans are already under way to bring it back next year, and once the word spreads it should be even more of a must-see event.

Festival director Richard Cooke and artistic director Holly Carey also managed to create the same amicable and inviting atmosphere for which so many Kilkenny festivals are savoured above bigger-name events.

It was evident as Mr Cooke introduced various films, expressing a sentiment along the lines of “I came across this film at a festival earlier this year and I just want to share it with you now.” It was evident as actors and directors introduced their own work before the screenings. And it was evident at the festival’s inspiring Angela Awards held in the Set Theatre on Sunday evening, an occasion to celebrate the work of everyone from actors and directors to composers and casting directors.

The aim of the festival was to showcase some of the great films being made around Europe that don’t get the attention they deserve. And so audiences witnessed the laughter of Finland’s Lapland Odyssey, the tragedy of Poland’s In Darkness, the stark reality of Romania’s California Dreamin’ and 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days, among many others.

And the hope – among both audiences and filmmakers – is that Subtitle can help to bring together and promote the European film industry, whose films mostly get lost beneath the powerful Hollywood machine that dominates film distribution worldwide. Celebrated Irish director Jim Sheridan said as much at Sunday’s Angela Awards, and the audience couldn’t have agreed more. It was even suggested that Subtitle could inspire a network of such festivals across the Continent.

For now, what we know is that something special has been created in Kilkenny. How fortunate were those who had the chance to witness its beginnings. It is surely the start of something great.