Call For: entries for Blackrock Animation Film Festival 2012 Competition

 Illustration: Adeline Pericart

Details of the second Blackrock Animation Film Festival Competition were announced today (Monday) at a photo call in Blackrock.  Festival Director, Fionnghuala Ní Néill and President of the Institute of Art, Design and Technology (IADT), Dr Annie Doona were joined by Blackrock Business Network members to help launch the competition, now in its second year.

At the unveiling of the competition poster, the Festival Director called for entries and announced the deadline – Friday, 6th July 2012.  Winning entries will be showcased during Blackrock Animation Film Festival 2012 (12th– 13th October) and prizes will be awarded at an awards ceremony (The BAFFAs).

Announcing the competition details and rules, Festival Director, Fionnghuala Ní Néill said:

‘We were astounded at the level and quality of entries for our inaugural Festival so we are naturally very excited about this year. We hope that the Blackrock Animation Film Festival 2012 Competition will inspire people to develop and showcase their talents.We are planning a bigger Festival this year with even more screenings, talks and workshops to take place over the two day event.’

Competition entry forms and rules are available on Festival updates will be announced in the coming months on, and on Twitter, @baffa2012.


JDIFF 2012 German Cinema Review: The Day I Was Not Born [Das Lied In Mir], in co-operation with Goethe-Institut Irland


Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2012

German: The Day I Was Not Born [Das Lied In Mir]

Thursday, 23rd February, 8:45pm, Light House


Jessica Schwarz plays Maria a German girl on her way to Santiago, Chile who gets stuck in Buenos Aries, Argentina.  While there she discovers that she is not who she thinks she is and that she was adopted, or was she ‘stolen’?, out of the country as a child by her German ‘parents’.

This is a slow quiet well crafted movie, there are some tenderly awkward scenes when she meets her blood relations from Buenos Aires and the movie touches on the still raw subject of the Argentinian military dictatorship.

It’s the type of film Michael Bay doesn’t make, which could be recommendation enough to seek it out.

Presented in co-operation with the Goethe-Institut Irland.

Gordon Gaffney

Click here for Film Ireland‘s coverage of this year’s Jameson Dublin International Film Festival

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JDIFF 2012: Out of the Past Cinema Review: Tim Burton’s Batman

Jameson Dublin International Film Festival

Out of the Past: Batman

Thursday, 23rd February, 6:00pm, Light House

Few icons are as known world wide as Batman, the bat signal itself being a logo that can be found in the most unlikely of corners and a huge part of the ubiquity is down to how the character has been portrayed in various media since his inception.

However the character was nearly overwhelmed by tonal shifts throughout his tenure. Firstly in the 1950s where the grim and Gothic crusader was replaced by a frothy boyscout all silly adventures which took him out of his usual milieu and dumped him into adventures encompassing time travel and cosmic concerns.

The ’60s then brought the smash hit TV show which built on the revised ideal and repositioned the character as a camp ringleader of a truly absurd and lighthearted world. With the humour ramped up the essence of this dark character was being lost. This had to be rectified. While it’s true, the essential elements of Batman lends itself to an endless array of interpretations, it was still decided that as a property it needed to return to its roots. Under the stewardship of writers such as Denny Adams and Frank Miller not to mention the moody art of Neal Adams, the comics began to claw back the angst and twisted sensibilities that first defined the book and it’s this version of the character that Tim Burton, long time fan of dark fairytales would fashion the tone to take Batman onto a wider stage.

With its film noir trappings and exaggerated and askew internal logic the film works in killing off the earlier camp but fails to hang together as a coherent film. A famously chaotic production (the final Batman/Joker confrontation, being written on set, which explains its poor resolution) one gets the feeling that the film had too many cooks. Having to accommodate Jack Nicholson who puts in a towerhouse performance as himself in clown make up, Prince on the soundtrack whose funk stylings clash with everything around it, introducing a hero, his entire raison d’etre and a love interest proves too much for a director who admits narrative is not his strong point. The love story is ridiculous even as these things go, rushed and unconvincing a potentially vital character reduced to a mere damsel in distress.

There’s no throughline to the film to anchor it as its constantly mutating script introduces elements only to discard them like some ‘wonderful toys’ as Joker himself might say. It’s a collection of ideas and tics rather than a proper story. Being too dark for children, whose desire for escapism would not be sated with this dismal and undesirable world and too simplistic for adults, its garish roster of gangsters and shallow characters find no nuance and settles instead for being patronisingly cartoony. Burton should have taken after Richard Donner’s philosophy when making Superman the movie, his notion of verisimilitude, that subject matter like this must be played straight to actually work.

Despite being dissatisfying as a whole there is one thing it gets right. Controversial when announced, the casting of Michael Keaton proved a masterstroke, his Bruce Wayne a nervy counterpoint to the more square jawed archetype of the comics and all the more interesting for that. Bob Kane who lobbied against the decision was forced to concede his mistake when Keaton impressed. The other feature of the film which is perfect is the score provided by Danny Elfmann a stirring piece which became iconic in its own right and endured past the films as the theme of the definitive Batman Animated series of the ’90s.

Simon Terzise gave a talk before the film extoling the virtures of the score remarking on its power and iconic stature. Burton himself did not relish the experience of making the film and his return to the series in ’92 for the very flawed but superior Batman Returns was a way for him to absolve the mistakes of this. It’s easy to see on screen why he felt uneasy about it all but the character has suffered far worse that this over his lengthy career. The movies most famous question, posed nonchalantly by Nicholson was ‘Ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?’ Yes we can answer and a most mediocre experience it was as it turns out.

Emmet O’Brien

Click here for Film Ireland’s coverage of this year’s Jameson Dublin International Film Festival

Click here for full details and to book tickets for this year’s Jameson Dublin International Film Festival


JDIFF 2012 Real To Reel Cinema Review: Calvet

Jameson Dublin International Film Festival

Real to Reel: Calvet

Thursday, 23rd February, 4:00pm, Cineworld

It’s Scarface meets doodling. When you get a fascinating subject for a documentary you must be half way there. Like the jaw-dropping life story of John Healy documented in Paul Duane’s John Healy: Barbaric Genius which was screened at last year’s Jameson Dublin International Film Festival, the subject of this documentary, Jean Marc Calvet, has battled his way through addiction and self destruction, homelessness, run-ins with the law and unsavoury types along with bodyguarding and scamming for good measure, before dramatically finding redemption through painting.

The first 30 minutes contains a heart stopping recollection of a scam carried out by Calvet in Tony Montana’s old stomping ground of Miami and in another nod to the Cuban, the titles are in blood red accompanied with thumping sound track.  This is no ordinary documentary.

Calvet is an intriguing subject; flawed, selfish and egocentric but also searingly honest and talented, indeed a price of $100,000 is placed on a painting of his by a gallery owner in New York. One gets the sense that the documentary is helping him exorcise some of his demons, just some as he looks like he holds plenty in reserve, and spurs him on to try and make good on mistakes he made in the past, in particular trying to contact his son that he abandoned many years ago as he is about to turn 18.

In the Q&A chaired by Dr. Harvey O’Brien, co-producer Brendan Byrne and Editor  Paul Carlin met in person for the first time.  Byrne said he is drawn to stories of redemption and justice but that in this case when he heard the story he thought it was too good to be true.  He also felt that it should have at least reached the Oscar® longlist for Best Documentary but the fact that it is predominantly in French held it back. Carlin said the main difficulty was the pacing and that he didn’t want to treat it as an art documentary.

But is it a true story?  Byrne believes it is 100% true and the thought that it wasn’t didn’t cross his mind until after the movie was screened and someone else brought it up.  My own thoughts are, as often happens, this story is too unbelievable and outlandish to have been made up.


The documentary does raise some unanswered questions that were answered at the Q&A.

Byrne, who seems well used to the festival Q&A circuit, revealed that Calvet is indeed taking a risk going public, and the possibility of him being found and killed by his former employer is a plausible but to his mind unlikey threat.

Regarding the crew filming Calvet at intensely private family meetings Byrne believed that the camera spurred him and pushed him into doing things that otherwise he might have backed out on.  After discussions with family members that he had a crew there they consented to being filmed.

Gordon Gaffney

Click here for Film Ireland’s coverage of this year’s Jameson Dublin International Film Festival

Click here for full details and to book tickets for this year’s Jameson Dublin International Film Festival



JDIFF 2012 Discovery Cinema Review: A Quiet Life [Una Vita Tranquilla]

Jameson Dublin International Film Festival

Discovery: A Quiet Life [Una Vita Tranquilla]

Wednesday, 22nd February, 8:10pm, Light House

Claudio Cupellini’s beautifully paced thriller A Quiet Life (2010) is not a mob movie.

Yes, the film glimpses at the shady reality of the Italian mafia but above that it looks intensely at a man’s fight for survival and his complex relationships with those closest to him.

Two decades after faking his own death to escape life with the Neapolitan mafia, Rosario (Toni Servillo), has set up a picture perfect life for himself in Frankfurt, Germany. He has a beautiful wife, a loving son and a successful hotel to run. However, when the young Italian Diego (Marco D’Amore) arrives on his doorstep with his boorish companion Edoardo (Francesco Di Leva) in tow, it isn’t long before the secrets of Rosario’s past start to unfold.

By shunning over-the-top mob movie clichés, the suspense in this tense thriller comes not from car chases and shoot-outs but from the sheer anguish of a man hiding a dark secret.

The critically acclaimed Servillo (Il Divo, Gomorrah) portrays this anguish with remarkable intensity, layer upon layer of emotion playing out on his face in almost every scene.

Sevillo moves with such fluidity from personas (jovial boss, loving family man, cold-blooded killer) that we are left wondering if we, like his own family, know him at all.

At times, close-ups of Rosario’s grimacing and weathered face enhanced by an expertly executed soundtrack and sharp editing leave you breathless.

The way in which the threat of violence simmers behind Rosario’s mild-mannered facade is enough to set the viewer on the edge. Mirroring this, the director only resorts to violence when vital to the plot but it is unnervingly ever present and poised to erupt – from the erratic behaviour of the coke-snorting Edoardo to the arty close-up of a brewing coffee pot on the point of boiling over.

Rosario’s frantic bid to kill off his violent past and preserve his future is shrewdly symbolised throughout – he hunts wild boar and puts mercury-studded nails into trees in his hotel’s backyard so that they will die and he can put up a biergarten where they’re still standing

Sadly, the director was unavailable for the Q&A due to take place after the screening. Perhaps Cupellini’s absence was itself a manufactured metaphor for his protagonist’s own disappearance.  Overreaching? Probably, however it was a shame none-the-less to miss spending a while in the company of the creator of such a gripping gaze at love, death and identity.

Carmen Bryce

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The Corona Fastnet Short Film Festival



The Corona Fastnet Short Film Festival is a unique short film festival which takes place in the beautiful seaside town of Schull in West Cork, annually over the last weekend in May. We like to encourage those who attend the festival as well as watching films, to take part in the workshops and audiences with our guest directors. Over the past three years we have had Q&A audiences with Jim Sheridan, Pat McCabe, Gerard Stembridge, Jack Gold, Kirsten Sheridan, Steve Coogan, Greg Dyke, Tony Barry, Ian Power, David Puttnam (pictured above), Sandy Lieberson, Chris O’Dell, Carmel Winters, Juanita Wilson and many others.

A town such as ours without a Cinema provides those who attend the festival with alternatives. Distributed Cinema, Schull’s very own intranet network dedicated to short film. From a horse box to a micro cinema with eyepiece, a school bus, to a cycling cinema at the tented fringe, from a bookshop, to the village hall and to numerous local pubs and restaurants, Schull’s network connects, through Ethernet cable and wireless links, to its own short film archive on a dedicated server.

Having received over 500 short films from all around the world we have created a local, 1 GB intranet network and show all of the submitted films in all of the 12 venues in the village of Schull. Events taking place in the Main Venue can be streamed to any of the network connected venues. There are also 9 dedicated film festival intranet wifi spots in Schull, which enable access to the short film archive.

Films and interviews from the archive are available to stream free from within the network of Schull to anyone with a laptop, an iPad or a smart phone any day of the year. See information signs in situ.

Programme for 2012 will be announced at the Cinematographers Party at the Bodega, Cork City on Wednesday 18th April.



JDIFF 2012 Out of the Past Cinema Review: The Panic in Needle Park, starring Al Pacino

Jameson Dublin International Film Festival

Out of the Past: The Panic in Needle Park

Wednesday, 22nd February, 5:30pm, Cineworld 

Cautionary tales are a tricky thing to get right, especially when the subject matter is drug use, the temptation for the material to get heavy handed is always there and skill must be taken to ensure that while not condoning the lifestyle, the film doesn’t just become a sermon.

For the majority of its running time The Panic in Needle Park views its characters in a detached manner. Glimpses of intimacy between its central pair, the streetwise but permanently small fry Bobby and naive and sympathetic Helen are there, but the film covers a lot of ground in their relationship so the courtship is sketched rather than painstakingly pored over. This suits the subject of the film, the relationship begins like the giddy rush of drug use when parties stretch on for days and in that heady context the wastrels and prostitutes which surround the couple are given a worldly bohemian glow. While not glamorised in any real way the initial stages of the film do have a charming air. Pacino is at his best in these scenes, conveying Bobby’s roguishness that when divorced from the practicalities of what he actually does would make him quite seductive to the sheltered and introverted Helen. It’s not long before the inevitable comedown as we see Helen descend into a seedy lifestyle of her own, turning tricks to score drugs and become the main breadwinner .

In a post-Trainspotting world this arc is quite standard and as an audience we can see the beats as they come, anticipating the debasement we get on the screen. For its time I have no doubt it was shocking and a milestone regarding its themes and was greatly influential but it is more interesting for the impact it made rather than for its actual content. Some lovely moments are undercut by a narrative that stretches on for too long, the ups and downs of Helen and Bobby soon become quite wearying and it definitely overstays its welcome as in its latter moments the whole thing loses narrative focus and indulges some cliches and overly moralistic asides.

As Pacino’s second ever acting role The Panic in Needle Park is an interesting curio for fans of his, however it is surprising that as the film becomes more dramatic and pointed his performance falters a bit.

Kitty Winn on the other hand is a revelation throughout and the finest performance on screen, her gradual fall from innocence is full of nuance and it makes her the most tragic figure of all. She very much deserved her Best Actress win at Cannes that year for her work here. As an artifact of the 70s the film is very much of its time, and shows us the curdling of the ’60s hippie ideal of recreational drug use into a more desperate arena of shooting up and getting strung out. The dream was over well before the panic started.

 Emmet O’Brien

Click here for Film Ireland’s coverage of this year’s Jameson Dublin International Film Festival

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JDIFF 2012 Reel Art Documentary: The Far Side of Revenge

Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2012

Reel Art Documentary: The Far Side of Revenge

Tuesday, 21st February, 6:30pm, IFI

Se Merry Doyle Margo Harkin Seamus Sweeney
Sé Merry Doyle, the film's editor, photographs Margo Harkin and Seamus Heaney.

‘This is a lasting friendship.’ Anne, a former quartermaster with the IRA, speaks in the IFI at the Q&A following Margo Harkin’s The Far Side of Revenge.

It’s exciting and uplifting to see a film that you know has had, and will have, a tangible, positive impact on the world. Margo Harkin’s feature, The Far Side of Revenge, screened last night in the IFI to a receptive and appreciative audience, which included Seamus Heaney as the title of the film was taken from Heaney’s play, The Cure at Troy.

The Far Side of Revenge documents the process of creating a play called ‘I Once Knew a Girl…’ made in Derry by Teya Sepinuck. Sepinuck’s ‘Theatre of Witness’ brings real people together to tell their own stories and, as Teya is quick to point out in the film, this is not drama therapy, but a process with a goal in mind – the performance. Healing occurs as a valuable by-product and the evidence of this is tangible. On screen, you can see the powerful connection that grows between the women despite the deep divides that would normally have prevented them from ever knowing each other. After the screening, the women stood proudly together, hugging and laughing – it’s clear lasting friendships have been made, even between a woman whose husband was cruelly murdered by the IRA and a woman who kept the IRA supplied with weapons.

The documentary was made with Reel Art, an Arts Council scheme designed to provide film artists with a unique opportunity to make highly creative, imaginative and experimental documentaries on an artistic theme. Operated in association with Filmbase and JDIFF, this will be the third year that Reel Art films premiere at the IFI as part of the festival.

Harkin’s is the first of the three Reel Art films screening as part of JDIFF this year. Dreamtime, Revisited by Julius Ziz & Dónal Ó Céilleachair screens on Wednesday, 22nd of February at 6.30pm in the IFI and Wonder House by Oonagh Kearney screens on Thursday, 23rd February at 6.30pm, also in the IFI.

Niamh Creely

Click here for Film Ireland‘s coverage of this year’s Jameson Dublin International Film Festival

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