JDIFF 2013: The Moth Diaries


Carmen Bryce sinks her teeth into The Moth Diaries, which screened as part of the 11th Jameson Dublin International Film Festival (14-24 February 2013)

The Moth Diaries

Sat, 23rd  February
Cineworld 8


It isn’t such a stretch of the imagination to see some of director Mary Harron’s grisly satire American Psycho in her latest offerings The Moth Diaries (2011).

While American Psycho (2000) brims over with violent masculinity and misogyny, The Moth Diaries, with its almost entirely female film, simmers with adolescent obsessions, latent lesbian desires and vampirism.

However, as Harron explained in the Q&A after the Jameson Dublin Film Festival screening of The Moth Diaries, both films are racked with ambiguity, blurring the border of hallucination and reality as told by an unreliable narrator misplaced from the rest of society.

The Moth Diaries is a re-imagining of the classic Gothic horror told through the journals of 16-year -old Rebecca (Sarah Bolger), a boarder at Brangwyn College, an elite boarding school for girls, who is haunted by her poet father’s suicide. Rebecca’s devoted friendship with the beautiful Lucy (Sarah Gadon) is endangered by the arrival of a curious new student Ernessa (Lily Cole).  As eerie Ernessa stakes claim to precious Lucy and the harmony at the school is shattered, a fiercely jealous Rebecca starts to suspect that the unearthly stranger, who stalks the ground barefoot at night and never eats, is a vampire intent on destroying all she holds dear.

While watching through Rebecca’s gaze, there is no doubt that Ernessa must be stopped. However, like American Psycho, the reality of what we see is called into question by the mental instability of the narrator and we are never sure what is real and what is merely a figment of a damaged mind.

Ideally set in an archaic institution full of dark corners and dusty libraries, Harron and cinematographer Declan Quinn looked to 19th century artwork and Gothic literature to create a suitably claustrophobic world for the girls to  intensify their already fanatical relationships.

Harrons explains, ‘The book is set in the 1960s but we didn’t want update to modern day. We purposely had an absence of any modern technology like mobile phones in the film to establish the girls’ isolation from the rest of the world. They are trapped in the location and in their own painful adolescence.’

The Moth Diaries is based novel by Rachel Klein that was lapped up by teenage girls fevered from the success of the Twilight franchise.  However unlike Twilight, that centres on the tryst between adolescent boy and girl, The Moth Diaries explores the compelling relationships between teenage girls. Harron said what moved her to adapt Klein’s novel for the screen was that it is based on this powerful dynamic and the turbulent phase of a girl’s life. It was this lack of a male protagonist that was an obstacle in the making of the film, says Harron.

‘The absence of a sexy, young, heartthrob made the film very hard to finance. However good the actors are, the Hollywood template has a boy/girl romance,’ said the director.

‘The protagonist is always male. This is what made my role as a female protagonist so rare and special,’ said actress Sarah Bolger who was also present for the Q&A.

It is unclear in The Moth Diaries whether the supernatural triggers the explosions of female adolescent sensations (infatuation, unleashed sexuality, angst), or the other way around. It is this thematic blurring, enhanced by commendable lead performances and captivating cinematography, which offers so much more than the average teen vampire flick.

Carmen Bryce



JDIFF 2013: Winners at the 2013 Jameson Dublin International Film Festival


The 2013 Jameson Dublin International Film Festival drew to a close on 24th February, after an action packed 11 days of screenings, insightful Q&As and special events featuring some of cinema’s leading lights including Danny DeVito, Tim Roth, Joss Whedon, Costa-Gavras, Gabriel Byrne, Cillian Murphy, Mary Harron, Sarah Bolger and Robert Towne.


Commenting on the closing night of the festival, Festival Director Gráinne Humphreys said: “Wow what a 2013 festival – as the films and guests return home – all that remains are the memories (and photos) of a packed 11 days. I was delighted with the large numbers of Dubliners who joined us this year to experience the festival, meet our Irish and international guests and celebrate the best of world cinema – roll on 2014.”


The Irish documentary following three street poets and hip-hop artists from north Dublin, Broken Song, proved a winner with critics and audiences alike, recieving both the Michael Dwyer Discovery Award at the Dublin Film Critics Awards and scooping the much coveted Audience Award for 2013. Commenting after the announcement, director Claire Dix said: “To get the audience award is so special, it’s a real validation for myself and Nodlag as filmmakers. We had a great experience at the festival – they’re one of the Reel Art partners and Gráinne Humphreys, the festival director has been really supportive of the project right from the beginning.” Directed by Claire Dix and produced by Nodlag Houlihan of Zucca films, Broken Song is part of the Arts Council’s Reel Art scheme in association with the festival and Film Base, designed to provide film artists with a unique opportunity to make highly creative, imaginative and experimental documentaries on an artistic theme.

The Dublin Film Critics Circle selected Kristina Buzyte’s Vanishing Waves as Best Film,

Best Director went to Mikhail Segal for Short Stories, Best Actor went to Aleksey Vertkov for White Tiger, Best Actress to Dilan Aksüt for Night of Silence, Best Debut went to Maja Milos for Clip, Best Screenplay went to Oriol Paulo and Lara Sendim for The Body, Best Cinematography went to Oleg Mutu for Beyond the Hills and Jury Prizes were awarded to BlancanievesAfter Lucia and The King of Pigs.  Irish films also fared well at the awards, with Best Documentary going toFar Out Isn’t Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story, Macdara Vallelly winning Best Irish Feature with Babygirl, Cathy Pearson winning Best Irish Documentary forGet the Picture, and Michael Dwyer Discovery Award going to Claire Dix for Broken Song.


2013 also saw the first presentation of the inaugural CINE Talent award, a new initiative from the festival’s partnership with Universal Pictures, Screen International and Bord Scannán na hÉireann / the Irish Film Board, which aims to spotlight and promote Irish talent to the international industry. Nick Ryan, director of The Summit, which screened at the festival, was awarded the accolade, with a prize that includes profile from Screen International and networking opportunities at their events at the Toronto, Cannes and Berlin film festivals. The winner will also be assisted by Universal Pictures and Bord Scannan na hEireann/the Irish Film Board with networking introductions to relevant international contacts. The prize also aims to include mentoring opportunities from an established industry alumi, from the previous JDIFF Irish Talent Spotlight Award.


Honoring career achievement, the Volta award was this year given to four hugely worthwhile recipients: Hollywood legend Danny DeVito, iconic British actor Tim Roth, Greek/French director Costa-Gavras and pop culture idol Joss Whedon.


The winner of the UNTITLED Screenwriting competition, run in association with Bord Scannán na hÉireann / the Irish Film Board was announced as Eoin Rogers with his animation scriptThe Cloud Giant. This competition involved a public presentation an idea for a feature film with the theme of ‘Family Films’, in order to win a First Draft Development Loan of up to €16,000.


Jameson Dublin International Film Festival would like to thank its funders and sponsors: Jameson, The Arts Council / An Chomhairle Ealaíon, Bord Scannán na hÉireann / the Irish Film Board, Cineworld, Renault, The Merrion Hotel, The Irish Times, RTÉ, Windmill Lane, Wells Cargo, Entertainment.ie, Film Base and The Church.


Jameson Dublin International Film Festival
Facebook: Jameson Dublin International Film Festival – /Dublinfilmfestival
Twitter: @DublinFilmFest

JDIFF: A Tribute to Kieran Hickey – Programme II


John Moran is struck by the powerful drama on offer at the tribute to Kieran Hickey, which took place as part of the 11th Jameson Dublin International Film Festival (14-24 February 2013)

Kieran Hickey Programme II

Sun, 24 February



“We have a terrible habit of forgetting the things we should remember and remembering the things we should forget.”

The tribute to director Kieran Hickey concluded on Sunday at the IFI with the screening of Attracta and The Rockingham Shoot. The Jameson Dublin International Film Festival and the Irish Film Archive provided an opportunity to see Wendy Hiller and Bosco Hogan contribute excellent central performances to Hickey’s now, lamentably, little-seen films.


Patrick Mason, former artistic director at the Abbey Theatre, noted how Hickey’s films fit easily within Irish dramatic tradition.  He drew attention to Hickey’s expanding vision that these films demonstrate.  Hickey continued to find powerful drama in everyday domestic settings, but more elaborate sequences, such as the titular shoot and the period detail of Attracta’s hometown, reveal his gathering strength and his promising future as a filmmaker, cut short by his untimely death in 1993.


Mr Mason also referred to the “long and hard struggles” Hickey faced in finding the funding and resources for his work.  Hickey displayed considerable talent working within the constraints that he did.  The arts are an easy target for cuts in financially straitened times, especially when artists are asking difficult questions and challenging accepted traditions as Hickey did.


The tribute showcased Hickey’s fictional works.  The Irish Film Institute will screen some of his shorter documentary works in their free Archive at Lunchtime screenings during the final week of February.

JDIFF 2013: Black Ice

Gemma Creagh keeps her balance on Black Ice, which screened as part of the  11th Jameson Dublin International Film Festival (14-24 February 2013)

Black Ice

Wed, 20th February
Light House 1


Black Ice begins when an uneasy and distraught local, Alice returns to her hometown near the border for the funeral of her young friend.  After this, a series of flashbacks reveal the events leading up to the crash that caused her brother, Tom and his girlfriend to lose their lives.


This slow-paced thriller examines the dangerous relationship between young people and speed, as then schoolgirl Alice falls for the mysterious, delinquent boy-racer, Jimmy – played by Love/Hate’s Killian Scott. Alice loses her innocence quickly as she finds herself hurtling down the road and into a world of fast cars and corruption.


Featuring some excellent performances from the latest wave of national talent, as well as some fantastically electric chase sequences, Black Ice proves that you can certainly get value for money in these recessionary times with a low-budget feature.


The enthusiastic and elated Johnny Gogan got up to speak after the screening; first introducing us to the film’s stars, Jane McGrath and Killian Scott before then getting down to a quick Q & A. Johnny chatted to us about his inspiration for the film, with black ice being representative of losing control at the end of the Celtic Tiger; about how he got many offers on his own petrol-head-style car, even one from a Leitrim criminal; about working with Brian on the script, as they completely reworked it before the shoot; about where all the feature’s funds came from and finally about his main character, Alice:


‘As a character she’s a survivor. She’s an iconic character for the times we live in. There’s a toughness about her but there’s a morality about her as well – the fact that she doesn’t have it earlier is because she’s young. As the viewer you’re growing up with her and discovering that with her.’

Gemma Creagh




JDIFF 2013: The Frames: In the Deep Shade


Steven Galvin enters the wall of sound of The Frames: In The Deep Shade, which screened as part of the 11th Jameson Dublin International Film Festival (14-24 February 2013)

The Frames: In the Deep Shade

Sun, 17th February
Cineworld 9
87 mins


Filmed over 18 months, The Frames: In The Deep Shade received its world premiere at the Jameson Dublin International Film festival. Conor Masterson’s luscious documentary follows the Dublin band on their 2010 anniversary tour. Shot in hallowed Black and White, Masterson focuses on what’s going on onstage at the band’s live performances and what’s going on in the mind of Glen Hansard. Never a straightforward documentary, in Masterson’s hands the documentary is very much about the creative process of the group at work and how that comes to fruition in the live performances of the band. Masterson’s own background in photography shines through proceedings creating a finely balanced  aural and visual narrative, including some sumptuous images of Dublin scattered through the film.

The director captures the band’s legendary live spirit and their intimacy with their fans. Hansard has become well known for his amusing impromptu anecdotes when introducing the songs on stage, which feeds in to a genuine rapport between band and audience that Masterson does well to portray while always staying focused on the band. Often using just the one camera, Masterson lets the naked energy of the band’s performance on stage do the work and never needs to revert to fancy camerawork or editing to catch the essence of the band.

The director spoke about how much he had enjoyed making the film and working with the band whom he described as “genuine and creative”.

Cineworld’s sound system did the music justice booming out the film’s live performances seizing the dynamics of the band’s songs live. The stand out moments being that mutation from a lullaby to a crunching crescendo in the beautiful ‘Santa Maria’, the electric performance of the heart-thumping ‘Revelate’,  and the soft simplicity and  exquisite harmonies of ‘Star Star’.

The Frames: In The Deep Shade achieves a level of intimacy that is able to relay the band’s beautifully delirious wall of sound and Glen’s obvious passion and role as the driving force that whips up a frenzy of sonic beauty.

Steven Galvin


JDIFF 2013: Danny DeVito attends special Jameson Cult Film Club screening ‘L.A. Confidential’

Hollywood star Danny DeVito attended a special Jameson Cult Film Club screening of the 1997 classic L.A. Confidential last night, Thursday 21st February. Mr. Hush-Hush himself also participated in an in-depth Q&A about the movie and his career with  DJ Rick O’Shea following the screening.

1950’s paparazzi, sporting trench coats and trilby’s, papped guests as they made their way into LAPD headquarters, aka Dublin’s Mansion House, which was transformed into various sets from the film. Guests got a glimpse of L.A.’s crime-stoppers hard at work before being dispatched to Nick’s Liqour Store to await further safety instructions from Sid Hudchins, Hush-Hush style.

Themed special effects and props transported the audience straight into glamorous Los Angeles in 1953, when police corruption was rife and celebrity scandals filled the news. Characters from the movie including Jack Wincennes, Bud White and Ed Exley acted out key scenes in front of the audience throughout the film, including Exley’s key interrogation scene and final shoot-out between Dudley Smith and Ed Exley, which was as explosive in the flesh as it was in the film.

Speaking at the event, Mr DeVito said, “I haven’t seen L.A. Confidential in a few years now but I am really impressed with the staging and actors tonight, really gives the movie a whole new life for me.”


Following the screening, the party continued in true Jameson style with guests tucking into ‘Fleur-de-Lis’ burgers and Jameson, Ginger and Lime long drinks while DJ Aidan Kelly took to the decks spinning Restless Records’ Hush-Hush Magazine Mix.

Guests included – Dermot Whelan, Aidan Power, David Coffey, Baz Ashmawy, Kathryn Thomas, Munster Rugby’s  Denis Hurley and Glenda Gilson


JDIFF 2013: Get the Picture


Steven Galvin sees history caught on camera at ‘Get the Picture, which screened as part of the 2013 Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.


Get the Picture

Sun, 17th February
Light House 3
70 mins

Get the Picture tells the fascinating story of the legendary John G Morris, former picture editor of Life magazine, the New York Times and executive editor of Magnum Photos. Now 96, the film takes an in-depth look at the man responsible for publishing some of the  most powerful images over the last three quarters of a century. In doing so, the film also chronicles photojournalism since WWII, with contributions from many of the world’s most renowned names in photography, including Marc Riboud, Martine Franck, Paulo Pellegrin and Don McCullin among others. Morris commissioned and selected images that would visually define iconic moments in history.


Robert Capra’s images of the D-Day landings of Tuesday, 6th June, 1944 on the beaches of Normandy.


Eddie Adams’ brutal image of a Vietcong prisoner being executed on the streets of Saigon in February 1969.


Kim Phuc’s 1972 horrifying image of a nine-year-old South Vietnamese girl running naked down a road away from an American napalm strike.


To see such images on the big screen was a visual knock-out and the film’s director Cathy Pearson deftly incorporates into the narrative many of the unforgettable defining images that Morris brought to us.

Pearson herself was on hand at the post screening Q&A to tell the audience how she serendipitously met Morris in Paris while she was out having dinner one night with a friend. Morris was listening in on their conversation and joined in; and out of their meeting the documentary came into existence. She recalled how she bonded with Morris over the course of the project – a man “who has a great passion for life”.


Working his way up from office boy in 1937 at Life magazine, Morris found himself at the forefront of photojournalism when America entered the war in 1941 following Japan’s attack on Pearl harbour. Morris’ strong views on peace and conflict resolution fuelled a determination in his work, which is predicated on his insistence on getting the truth out. Pearson’s documentary is a testament to the man’s life and legacy, whose keen eye and sense of significance caught so many of the essential moments of 20th century photojournalism and put them into the public sphere.


JDIFF 2013: ‘Spione’ (Spies)


David Neary delights in the live score accompanying Fritz lang’s Spies, which screened as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.

Spione (Spies)

Sun, 17th February
Light House 1
145 mins

One of the annual favourites of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival, the big silent movie always draws a crowd of film fans as hungry for classics of early cinema as they are for live performance. Few things can beat a crisp black and white film with a musical accompaniment created right before your very eyes, beneath the very screen.

For the first time in festival memory, however, the film itself was a somewhat of a disappointment. Fritz Lang’s Spione (Spies), a ripping espionage yarn about secret treaties and tiny cameras, features some moments of expected directorial flair – a thrilling train crash, poison gas filling a bank vault, a ghostly visitation to a shamed Japanese diplomat about to commit hara-kiri – but there’s not enough to excuse its run time, excessive padding and ricocheting tone. While Lang’s previous film, Metropolis (which played at JDIFF in 2007), had lost UFA an unimaginable sum of money, Spies represents a more restrained Lang, and a remarkable climb-down in terms of artistic ambition.

Thank heavens therefore for Gunther Buchwald. The German pianist gave the plodding film a new life with a plucky, tinkling accompaniment that captured all the intrigue and antics of Lang and his wife Thea von Harbou’s oddly balanced script. Switching to violin for dance scenes (and at one point playing both piano and violin at once, to the bewilderment of the audience), Buchwald demonstrated the suitability of his composition and the thought that has gone into it. In the finest melding of sight and sound all evening, a tense scene in Spione, in which the hero investigates a darkened room, was accompanied by Buchwald directly tickling the piano wires with his fingertips, evoking the sound of some demonic harp.

Spione may not have captivated its audience as did Häxan, last year’s silent revival, but Gunther Buchwald has proven himself one of the most welcome guests at this year’s festival. Hopefully he will return to Ireland again soon, and with a great wealth of Weimar silent cinema to choose from, with luck he’ll bring a stronger film than Spione to accompany.

David Neary