Remarks by Minister Helen McEntee, Minister for Mental Health and Older People, and Meath East Fine Gael T.D. at the official opening of the Guth Gafa International Film Festival

Remarks by Minister Helen McEntee, Minister for Mental Health and Older People, and Meath East Fine Gael T.D. at the official opening of the Guth Gafa International Film Festival

Headfort House, Kells, Co. Meath

Wednesday evening, 3rd August 2016

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Many thanks to the organisers of the Guth Gafa Film Festival for the invitation to speak at your official opening this evening in the wonderful surroundings of Headfort House.

As a local community here in Kells and North Meath, and as a wider community of film and documentary lovers from Ireland and abroad, we stand here tonight on the eve of a very exciting, informative and indeed transformative weekend.

It’s a weekend when many of our assumptions and world views will be thoughtfully challenged and provoked. A weekend that will throw us off guard, take us out of our comfort zone, but still be entertaining and enjoyable. In the words of your website it is “a cure for summer time boredom.”

It’s a chance to see into different cultures and issues of concern across the world, and still sample the unique local culture, history and hospitality of Kells and North Meath people towards visitors.

I want to really very sincerely welcome the Guth Gafa Film Festival tonight. Thank you for coming to Kells. Thank you to all those who have worked so hard over the last year in whatever capacity to make this special weekend happen.

Just as the films and documentaries you will see here over this long weekend will challenge your assumptions and beliefs, the presence of the Guth Gafa Film Festival in Kells is helping to transform the image of our town and of our County as well.

You are tapping into Kells’s ancient historic mission, dating back to its monastery times, of being a great seat of learning, artistic expression and education. You are complimenting other major artistic and tourism events locally this Summer – the Hay Festival and the Medieval Fayre.

You are also contributing to Meath’s image of 5,000 years of innovation dating back to the Neolithic monuments of Newgrange, and indeed Loughcrew outside Oldcastle. You are adding a new, modern and exciting chapter to the story of our locality. For that, I, on behalf of our local community, thank you.

The Guth Gafa programme has something for everyone: be you young or old, newcomer to film or a stalwart of the industry, a local farmer, an environmentalist or a human rights activist.

And your experience here won’t be a passive one. Probably uniquely, you the audience, have the opportunity post screening to discuss your viewpoint, be it positive or negative, with the film maker. We love a good row in Meath so some of the film makers may be in for a shock!! But that’s what makes this Festival and the ethos underpinning it so important and so special.

The engagement of local school children, the innovative use of virtual reality – which I experienced myself today and the Live Music Festival Club, amongst many other added extras, all make this an event not to be missed.

They are also important ways of furthering Guth Gafa’s overall mission to showcase the latest award-winning International and Irish documentary films on thought-provoking subjects, and promoting the art of great story-telling, through film, to rural Irish communities.

Guth Gafa we are told stands for captive voice. But I think the sound that Guth Gafa is making this weekend in Kells is anything but captive. It is a loud, positive and proud expression of everything good that makes us Irish. We are a warm, welcoming people who enjoy life but who also have an awareness and concern for our fellow human beings at home and across the world.

As a Minister and a local politician, naturally I need to acknowledge the presence and the support of the Arts Council of Ireland, The Irish Film Board, The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, Fáilte Ireland, and of course our own local Meath County Council. Their support this weekend speaks volumes, in a practical way, about the importance of this festival in a local, national and international context more than I can say in words.

Again, thank you to all of those who have been working to make Guth Gafa a success, in whatever way, big or small, over the last year. I look forward to a really great weekend for Kells, for film, and for the advancement of important social and human rights issues.

ENDS.

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