The 18th Galway Film Fleadh closed Sunday night with a preview presentation ofwriter/director David Gleeson's second feature The Frontline, a crime drama about vulnerable Congolese immigrantsin Dublin which will be released by BVI Ireland after itsofficial world premiere on August 25.

The Frontline was one of several new Irish features premiered at the event. JohnCarney's Once,a strong contender for festival success in coming months, is a deftly handledtale of a Dublin busker and a Czech girlhe meets on the street who make an emotional connection through music and songwriting.

Writer/director Niall Heery's Small EngineRepair also scored highly with the festival audience and took the Fleadh award for Best First Feature. Heery'sstory of the belated coming of age of four men, superficially friends, revealsa real backwoods Ireland that identifies closelywith American country music and boasts a particularly strong performance fromIain Glen as a singer who gradually comes to believe in his own talent.

The festival and parallelpitching fair attracted numerous filmmakers, financiers and producers to Galway from many parts of theworld, including the US, UK and andcontinental Europe. The award for Best Documentary went to The Trials of Darryl Hunt which had its first Internationalscreening in Galway, attended by its directors Ricki Stern andAnnie Sundberg and by its subject Darryl Hunt, victimof a notorious miscarriage of justice in North Carolina.

The annual Fleadh pitching competition, which attracted 180 entriesand is worth $6267 (£5,000) to the successful writer, went to Mark Wale for Physical Memory Dump, a dramaticexploration of just how dangerously close to the edge Dublin's bicycle couriersare prepared to go.

Among the Irish industrynews to emerge at the this year's event there was confirmation that MarianQuinn's 32A will begin filming in aweek's time, in Dublin and Sligo, with Jared Harris and Aidan Quinn headliningthe cast. And other features being lined up for Irish shoots later in the yearinclude Tommy Collins's Kings, Robin Swicord's MermaidSinging with Jessica Lange, and a Dublin-based autobiographical projectfrom Jim Sheridan.

The Irish Film &Television Academy was also re-launched during the Fleadhwith a strong recruiting drive and news that its annual awards ceremony is tomove from November to February next year, bringing it into line with the timingof similar events internationally.

Speaking after the closingceremonies, Miriam Allen, managing director of the Galway Film Fleadh said, "We are thrilled with the success of thisyear's Fleadh. We endeavour year after year to addnew dimensions to the programme and are always mindful of attracting newaudiences. This year's programme delivered on both these counts and we arealready looking forward to doing it all again in 2007".

Short Programme Awards 2006

Best Irish Short

Nun More Deadly, Dir: David O'Sullivan

Second Place

Venom, Dir: John Hayes

Best First Irish Short

Joyriders, Dir: Rebecca Daly

Second Place

The White Dress, Dir: Vanessa Gildea

Best Irish ShortDocumentary

Christy, Dir: Alex Gill

Second Place

James, Dir: Fran Apprich

Best Irish Short Animation

Demon, Dir: Eoin Ryan

Second Place

Badly Drawn Roy, Dir: Alan Shannon