Interview with Artistic Director Maeve McGrath (KERRY FILM FESTIVAL)


KFF is renowned for celebrating the work of young filmmaking talent through a well established and lively short film competition that has been supported and endorsed by luminaries from the world of film such as Cillian Murphy, director Paul Greengrass, Jeremy Irons, Liam Neeson, and Gabriel Byrne. Over the past 17 years KFF has become a vital element of Kerry’s cultural landscape offering a unique film experience to the local community as well as creating a ‘must attend’ cultural tourism event for visitors to the county.


Matthew Toffolo: What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?

Maeve McGrath: We hope that we are providing a platform for new and emerging film makers while also screening established film makers. We really want to being an industry experience to the festival so that the film maker can network with like-minded people and also see some incredible films. All our film makers get access to all screenings for free.

What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2017)?

We have a really varied selection of short film this year, we also have our Discovery Features which is a platform for First time feature film makers. we have quality music documentary along with premieres and an industry day event with in conversations and panel discussions

What are the qualifications for the selected films?

They have to be 20 minutes or less for Shorts and made in the previous year. Features have to be 60 minutes +

Films selected for the programme are then are in consideration for 7 x awards and a shortlist are selected by a Jury Panel. KFF doesn’t have an audience award.

Do you think that some films really don’t get a fair shake from film festivals? And if so, why?

I know that at Kerry Film Festival, each film is seen by up to 6 people as they are viewed. We view every film from start to finish and every film will be discussed and appraised before selection. We are rigorous in our selection. We have to be. We get hundreds and hundreds of films submitted but at the end of the day it is our Jury panel that select winners.

I understand that some festivals may not be as meticulous as we are but we can stand over every film selected. We have limited space for films to screen so it can be very difficult to shortlist when we fall in love with a film and can’t fit it in the schedule and that can happen frequently.

What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

I love film, especially short film and also, music documentary. My masters thesis followed the route of the Irish short film to the Oscars so I researched that to pieces!

How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

Great, the judging panel is very handy and accessible and you vote in areas of the film from cinematography to direction so it gives you a good reading of the film when scores are combined.

Where do you see the festival by 2020?

We are 18 years old this year so we will have passed our 20th Film Festival by then. I am hoping it will continue to grow and provide a screening space for film makers.

What film have you seen the most times in your life?

Twelve Angry Men

In one sentence, what makes a great film?

Simple storytelling brought to the screen with honesty.

How is the film scene in your city?

In Kerry there is a real surge in film making. Creative Kerry and Film Kerry are building on the desire to film in the beautiful locations in Kerry, think Star Wars and Skellig Michael. Feature films are being made by innovative, creative local film makers. A very vibrant county.



Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 2 times a month. Go to for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

SUBMIT your TV PILOT Screenplay or TV SPEC Script
Voted #1 TV Contest in North America.
Screenplay CONTESTSUBMIT your Short Screenplay or FEATURE Script
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