Could Galway Film Fleadh be the first festival impacted if SAG-AFTRA votes for strike?

Could Galway Film Fleadh be the first festival impacted if SAG-AFTRA votes for strike?

With a SAG-AFTRA strike now looking certain, the eyes of festival publicity teams and planners could be on Venice and Toronto as upcoming major events could be severely affected if US actors are prevented from promoting their films according to the strike rules.

But on Ireland’s west coast, a slightly smaller festival is taking place just as the union’s national council meets on Thursday to officially decide whether to call a work stoppage, a decision that could immediately affect showings of the event.

The 35th Galway Film Fleadh opened in the coastal city on Tuesday evening with the world premiere of The Miracle Club, with Maggie Smith, Kathy Burke and Laura Linney. While that event saw a packed house at City Hall, another significant world first will take place on Thursday just hours after the critical vote, with its top star potentially facing the prospect of not being able to attend.

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The Martini shot stars Matthew Modine as a sick director as he begins shooting what he believes to be his last film. The existential drama – from director Stephen Wallis and also starring Derek Jacobi, John Cleese, Stuart Townsend and Fiona Glascott – is scheduled to premiere at 9.30pm 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 if a SAG-AFTRA strike were to be called, union strike rules would likely prevent him from attending the premiere to promote the film.

Interestingly, Modine also acts Oppenheimer, receiving its UK premiere on Thursday night in London. Bracing for the impact of a potential strike, Universal moved the red carpet back an hour in hopes 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 the rules of the SAG-AFTRA strike.

Modine is also in Galway attending a Masterclass on Saturday, ma DAY he feels that since this is not directly related to a film or any promotional work, this should not be affected.

Elsewhere at the festival, the Galway Film Fair has grown into a major industry event and co-production hub, with producers from around the world in attendance alongside decision makers from various film funds, distributors and platforms, including the likes of Magnolia, Mubi , Neon , Film4 and Bankside Films. As of Thursday, the sector arm and its many already scheduled meetings and talks are unlikely to be impacted by the strike, but a source said it would be “the argument from the market”.

In a quote sent to DAYGalway Film Fleadh managing director Miriam Allen expressed her solidarity with the unions, but also underlined the vital nature of the festival.

“While we are very supportive of both the actors and writers in their efforts to reach a fair deal with major studios and streamers, we still feel it is important to continue to bring our films to our audiences,” he said.