Irish film festival the Galway Film Fleadh is set to be rejuvenated after it hired William Fitzgerald as its new programmer. Over the last few years, the festival has attracted talent such as Saoirse Ronan, John C. Reilly and Martin Sheen and was one of earliest supporters of Black 47 director Lance Daly.

Fitzgerald replaces Gar O’Brien, who is stepping down after seven years. He has previously held various roles at the festivals including as short film programmer and festival publicist. Fitzgerald has also worked as a film publicist with the Foyle Film Festival in Derry and the Tribeca Film Festival.

The festival runs from July 10 – 15 and submissions for the 30th event are currently open with a final deadline of March 30th. The Fleadh is considered one of the top film festivals in Ireland and is an Oscar-qualifying festival for animation and drama shorts.

“One of the best and yet saddest parts of this line of work is the changing nature of the programmer role,” said Miriam Allen, Managing Director. “Gar made a terrific contribution to the Fleadh and to the Irish film industry over the last seven years and I’m sad to see him go. At the same time, we are all feeling invigorated here with the changes we’re making coming up to our 30th festival, and I can’t wait to see what Will brings to the table.”

“I’ve been doing the freelancer festival hop for a lot of years and returning to Galway every summer is always most exciting because it always feels like you’re starting on page one of a new journey with a lot of films and a lot of filmmakers,” said Fitzgerald. “Galway is raw that way, the unique atmosphere of the festival and the market exposes filmmakers ambitions and passions and everyone gets caught up in it. To take over the reins from Gar, on the eve of the 30th Film Fleadh no less, is both an intimidating prospect and an incredible privilege.”