Novelist (and National Treasure) Pat McCabe offers his own unique tribute to the Fastnet Film Festival in Schull, Co. Cork, which takes place this weekend.

Over the years, I would estimate, I have attended somewhere in the region of twenty to thirty million film festivals, dit. Jean De Roquefort-Bliny, celebrate cineaste and author of Cahiers Du Cinema - A Reappraisal (co-authored with Madame Claude-Jaeckin) and I would safely say that Fastnet kicks the whole lot of then into a battered tin bucket.

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And I, as a veteran of the very same festival, would have to say that I agree wholeheartedly with the venerable critic, with the reason for that being, where else could you walk into a room with only twenty people in it and hear the wise and patient interviewer Maurice Seezer teasing the most extraordinary facts regarding the genesis of the cultural depth-charge that was Riverdance with its creator Bill Whelan? I couldn’t believe it and I’m not the better of it yet.  Having had it all to myself, I mean.

The same as I had the entire village of Schull - along with ospreys, guillemots and an octopus called Ernie, who is just someone that my grandchild made up, when fishing for pinkeens in a rock pool filled with wonders.

Film festivals that have no cinema are far better than ones that have, because every shop in the town is a picture house.

I saw forty-five great pictures in an assortment of premises, over the course of four or five days. Including ones with Patrick Pearse and cowboys, and one about a ghost in a forest and some models, and another one with talking clocks.

Another good thing about Fastnet is that it’s linked to the business of actually making movies, you might even get talking to Jim Sheridan in a pub, or manage to ask Maureen Hughes about how you go about putting yourself on a video tape.

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There be singing as well.  Me and Maurice ‘The Man’ Seezer will play Mancini one night in John D’Alton’s pub-and Bridie that’d be his Mrs. We do versions of Bond scores of hits from the sixties. So that’s another good reason why it’s different.

But the best of all is that it carries its scholarship and intent lightly, which is creation in celluloid. And this year, make no mistake. there are gonna be a bunch of industry heavyweights around. All underneath them gloriously expansive West Cork skies.

Bill Whelan last year blew my mind. Did you ever think about how radical the musical structure of his composition is? Well neither did I, until he himself explained it, and how the time signatures work with these kind of, East European split rhythms.  Last year saw a masterclass in film and musical interviewing -something I just hadn’t begun to expect.

But then, that is the singular beauty of Fastnet, so if you turn the corner across the street from Hackett’s pub and find yourself falling into the flare of a great big golden bassoon, don’t be alarmed, it’ll probably just be the Berlin Philharmonic.

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The Robert Evans/Martin Scorsese of this whole glorious enterprise is the pint- sized tornado Pauline Cotter, say hello to her when you’re down or YOU’LL NEVER EAT LUNCH IN THIS TOWN AGAIN! Not forgetting Helen and Hilary!

The Fastnet Film Festival runs May 24th-28th - go here for programme details.