The 17thGalway Film Fleadh will open on July 5 with On A Clear Day, the story ofa man who decides to swim the English Channel, with stars Peter Mullan, BrendaBlethyn and Billy Boyd in attendance.

Noted as alaunching pad for new Irish films the Fleadh programme will have a strong localrepresentation this year, including premieres of Pavee Lackeen, ShortOrder, Boy Eats Girl, Hill 16 and Winter's End. The Mighty Celtwill also be in the Irish line up and its director of photography, SeamusDeasy, will be the subject of this year's Irish film-maker retrospective.

Anexpanded range of seminars and sidebar events will take place at this year'sfestival, including a series of masterclasses being given by world classtalent. Actors' masterclasses are being given by Patricia Clarkson and CambellScott. The directors' masterclass is being given by Luis Mandoki, and thescreenwriters' masterclass will be given by Paul Schrader. Seamus Deasy willgive a workshop on cinematography.

The IrishFilm Board will be hosting an open forum at the Fleadh as a means of opening upand promoting channels of communication with and between the various interestsin the Irish film industry.

'The Real Deal', the business side of theFleadh, will include a finance and production case study of Studs, theonly film to have been funded through the Irish Film Board's Low BudgetInitiative in the last eighteen months.

There willbe a session on festivals and film promotion with key programmers from 'A' list festivals from around the world. Other sessions will look at the corporate shifts impactingon the production and acquisition policies of the US studios' specialistdivisions, and a sampling of European sales agents' and distributors' take oncurrent market trends.

With thebacking of broadcaster RTE the Fleadh will offer a prize fund for the firsttime this year. Awards amounting to £10,500 will be presented across sevencategories, five of them limited to Irish entries and two of them - BestFeature Documentary and Best First Feature - open to all entries.

Separately,and also being offered for the first time, there will be a £5,000 PitchingAward for screenwriters backed by Stella Artois. Five previously submitted andshort-listed one-page synopses will be pitched publicly in 15-minute sessionsby the screenwriters on July 10th in front of an industry panel and audience.

The fullFleadh programme will be published toward the end of the month.