The Runway takes off in Rome
by Boyd van Hoeij
Writer-director Ian Power’s feature-length debut is part of the Alice in the City section aimed at school children. Despite the fact the screening started an hour late (even though it was the first screening of the day), the classes in attendance cheered on The Runway’s young protagonist, who helps a downed South-American pilot.
The Runway is inspired by a true story that occurred in 1983 – also the setting of the film – when a Mexican pilot crashed into a field in rural Ireland and the locals rallied around him to help him take off again. In the film, the pilot is Colombian and called Ernesto (Damian Bichir, from Soderbergh’s Che [+see also:
film profile]). He crash lands into a field just as young Paco (Jamie Kierans) is expecting a space ship to answer the call of the intergalactic radio he has built with his best friend, Frogs (John Carpenter).
Because Paco believes his dad is Spanish, he has been teaching himself the rudimentary basics of that language via tapes, and now he is the only one in the village who can communicate with Ernesto, though more often then not, he doesn’t understand or deliberately twists the pilot’s words to his own ends.
The film’s bittersweet look at a young boy and a depressed town that used to be known as the capital of double glazing is effective and endearing, mainly relying on bright cinematography and the considerable charms of its cast, including Kerry Condon, who plays Paco’s single mother. Gast Waltzing’s old-fashioned score also helps to underline the story’s timelessness while also keeping on the right side of syrupy.
The film was produced by Macdara Kelleher and Brendan McDonald of Irish production company Fastnet Films and Bernard Michaux of Luxembourg-based Lucil Films. It is sold internationally by Spanish company 6Sales. The Irish Film Board and Film Fund Luxembourg both backed the project.
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