Review of Irish Film @ ADIFF 2018: The Science of Ghosts

June Butler is haunted by Niall McCann’s observational drama which centres on well-known Irish musician Adrian Crowley.

I was not sure what to expect when attending the IFI for a screening of this film. The director, Niall McCann, stood to say a few words and my expectations mutated into full confusion mode.  McCann thanked Adrian Crowley, the subject of his film ‘for not going mad’. Cue titters from the audience. Quite why Adrian might have gone ‘mad’ was intriguing but worrisome. He went on to express his gratitude to other persons working on the project for also not going ‘mad’. More polite tittering.

It was clear at this point, McCann had a theme going on. He then mentioned a crew member who had decided not to row in with the flat-line levels of remaining calm, instead ratcheting crazy to a new level by actually going ‘mad’, thus throwing the audience into immediate disarray. No more cuddly safety for them – the audience stopped tittering and looked askance at each other. At this juncture, I was out of my seat and scrabbling for the emergency exits when McCann said something that stopped me in my tracks – ‘this is an experimental film’ he averred. I sighed in relief and returned to my seat. From here on, anything that came my way was a delightful excursion into the unknown.

Adrian Crowley, on whom the film is based, is both the perfect topic and an ideal subject for such a film. His soulful countenance, at times expressive and others implacable, is a most suitable canvas for McCann’s vision. There are moments of farce that bring unexpected lightness into the frame – some are timely and others a distraction but each scene brings with it the knowledge that post-mortem impressions are the result of individual wisdom. Each to their own, as the fella says. Crowley and McCann work well together with McCann’s vision coming to the fore and Crowley being game for a laugh. There is humour in parts and in others the wide-eyed innocence of a child, evidenced from Crowley’s playful narrative about his son.

Lyrics to Unhappy Seamstress written by Crowley when he moved, hermit-like, into a bedsit in Rathmines, make for somewhat distressing listening – the tools of a songwriter unfold as by-lines to human despair. But his songs also hold a light to the human condition in its perfect misery. The cinematography holds moments of sobriety against capricious whimsy – changing from moment to moment – becoming manifest as an oft-distant stage-whisperer only to later metamorphose into a second but equally significant subject, one that is figuratively as vital as Crowley himself.

McCann cleverly juxtaposes the sublime with the even more sublime and always manages to carry it off with panache. As experimental films go, I would suggest this has tones of Meshes of the Afternoon (Maya Deran, 1943, USA), with its unpredictable reminiscences – McCann’s wonderful offering allows and encourages viewers to think for themselves – it is what makes his film well worth seeing.

 

The Science of Ghosts screened on Saturday 26th February as part of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival (21 February – 4th March).

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Review of Irish Film @ ADIFF 2018: Kissing Candice

Stephen Porzio puckers up at the 2018 Audi Dublin International Film Festival for Aoife McArdle’s Kissing Candice. 

I recently criticised The Lodgers for being an Irish genre movie that failed to capitalise on the country’s rich history. For a gothic horror set in the 1920s, it felt uninterested in engaging with Ireland’s Battle for Independence or Civil War, events which had they been a greater part of the story would have made it richer. Thankfully, Kissing Candice – a graphic novel-esque tale of cops and robbers and young lovers caught in the crossfire set in Northern Ireland – does a better job at this. The debut from writer-director Aoife McArdle (U2’s Every Breaking Wave music video) takes the time to acknowledge The Troubles and the impact the era had on the generation that followed.

An incredibly expressive Ann Skelly (Red Rock, Rebellion) stars as Candice, a 17-year-old living in a one-horse-town with her troubled policeman father, Donal (The Fall’s John Lynch), and disconnected mother, Debbie (Lydia McGuinness, who had a great role in another ADIFF premiere, The Delinquent Season). Both dealing with her blossoming sexuality and severe seizures, Candice retreats into dreams. While dreaming, she has visions of man who she does not know but feels inexplicably drawn to.

Things get complicated, however, when Candice meets literally the man from her dreams, Jacob (Ryan Lincoln), a former member of a ruthless local gang who Donal wants to put behind bars. Having turned on his partners in crime, the criminals want revenge – targeting Candice in the process.

With its neo-noir aesthetic, its sensorial depiction of female sexual desire and its hallucinatory representation of the journey from teen to adult, Kissing Candice is part Streets of Fire, part Raw and part Donnie Darko. However, what keeps the movie feeling fresh and exciting, as opposed to derivative, is Aoife McArdle’s direction. Coming from a music video background, she emphasises mood and visuals over the story. Kissing Candice could be viewed without audio, and audiences would still be transfixed by its imagery; a burning toy house in the middle of a road, a dream in which a man walks stoically as his arm is on fire, a party-goer’s creepy mask at a neon-drenched nightmare rave.

While the glossy music video aesthetic for the most part works to the film’s favour, occasionally Kissing Candice feel more like long-form accompaniment to Jon Clarke’s pulsating score. This is particularly noticeable in the movie’s oblique denouement which would work better in an experimental music promo than a narrative feature.

Still, McArdle deserves credit for doing something revelatory. She manages to convey the stark brutal reality of living in some parts of Ireland but in a way which looks as incredible as a Michael Mann joint. Also, as mentioned in the first paragraph, McArdle seems to be making a commentary on the lasting impact on The Troubles. The murderous gangs that populate Kissing Candice, Donal remarks, are the sons of those who fought in the conflict. Perhaps, the violence is not quite over yet.

 

Kissing Candice screened on Friday, 2nd March 2018 as part of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival (21 February – 4th March).

 

 

 

 

 

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Grainne Humphreys, ADIFF Festival Director

Stephen Porzio caught up with festival director Grainne Humphreys to get a heads-up on this year’s Audi Dublin International Film Festival. 

With the prestigious Berlin Film Festival in full swing, what better time is there to shine a spotlight on Dublin’s own annual celebration of cinema, ADIFF 2018. From February 21 until March 4, over 100 movies from across the world will screen and A-listers will be in attendance. Yet, while many presume the life of a film festival organiser must be one of glamour, ADIFF director Grainne Humphreys wants to set the record straight.

“The common perception if you meet civilians, which occasionally you do [Humphreys jokes], is that they think your life is basically a yacht at Cannes and you walk on a red carpet and have dinner in very expensive restaurants. That’s not the case. I was on my first yacht in 25 years last year by complete accident”. She adds, “for anyone who thinks it’s a glamourous lifestyle… I really want to sit them in a small darkened room with a laptop and put them in front of four hours of really terrible film”

Humphreys has been running the festival for 11 years. Warm and genial, she is the opposite of what one would expect from a film festival director. One tends to think of professional cinefiles as culture snobs. While this was the case at Cannes, a festival which turned women away from screenings for not wearing high-heels and has banned Netflix movies from competing for awards, Humphreys believes the key to ADIFF’s success is down to its more ‘calm’ and ‘informal’ vibe.

“We’ve tried to shy away from the celebrity element. The festival never becomes a segregated VIP only event. [Guests] like that. They come as filmmakers.”

As if to prove her point, the festival director seems less interested in discussing the bigger names appearing at the festival, such as Joaquin Phoenix, Rooney Mara and Cillian Murphy. Instead, the acclaimed directors and character actors scheduled to give Q&As excite her more, particularly Lynne Ramsey (We Need to Talk About Kevin) premiering her latest, You Were Never Really Here.

Phoenix, appearing at ADIFF for another premiere (Mary Magdalene), stars in Ramsey’s film as a war veteran turned contract killer. He uncovers a web of corruption while trying to save a kidnapped teen from prostitution.

Claiming You Were Never Really Here feels as immersive as the virtual reality conference ADIFF is running this year. Humphreys says excitingly about Ramsey, “That’s somebody who is really a story teller. That’s a film where I was gripped, I was moved, I was shocked and when I came out I literally was still moving around, trembling for a couple of hours after.”

Another high-profile guest is Independence Day star Bill Pullman, premiering the Western, The Ballad of Lefty Brown. Humphreys sites this as an example of ADIFF’s reputation as being less celebrity-focused paying dividends.

“It’s a small passion project. [Pullman] knows film festivals and the kind of energy and support that a festival audience can give. A lot of the time you are sending invitations out but a lot of the time [filmmakers] are looking towards film festivals to give their projects a kind of profile or positioning. They get a sense they will connect with audiences”.

What hidden gems should audiences seek out at the festival? Humphreys praises Irish documentary The Lonely Battle of Thomas Reid, Belgian crime thrillers Above the Law and The Racer and the Jailbird and Indonesian film, Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts. She also thinks opening-night film Black 47, a Western set during the famine, starring Hugo Weaving and Barry Keoghan, could be this year’s most successful Irish film.

However, the movie she seems most enthusiastic about is Thirst Street, an American indie from director Nathan Silver. “Nathan has been around 15 years and makes these low-budget but really clever melodramas. Thirst Street is about a female air hostess who is dumped by her boyfriend and goes to Paris. It has this wonderful whimsical aspect to it but a witty voiceover from Anjelica Houston spins it in another direction”.

To prepare for ADIFF, Humphreys watches over 30 movies a week, culminating in around 12,000 per year. This experience has left her with plenty of feedback for filmmakers.

“So often it strikes me that a lot of filmmakers don’t go to the cinema enough. If they went to the cinema, they would realise there are standards for telling a story. A lot of the time people think long, slow, boring serious movies about the weight of the world make people feel important. No. They don’t. They make them feel terrible. If you have something that makes an audience feel happy or makes them view their world differently, that’s a plus and something you mark as special”.

Talking about the current health of Irish film, Humphreys says that the quality and quantity of Irish movies has ‘doubled’ since she began as ADIFF director. She believes Irish actors and directors happy to work both internationally and domestically helps bring money into the industry, that the rise of TV has given filmmakers the ability between movies to ‘hone their craft’ and that Ireland’s four film studios keep important professionals constantly working.

Ending the interview, Humphreys states, “It used to be quite lonely going to festivals a few years ago. You’d say, ‘oh, we have a great Irish cinema’ but nobody ever knew anyone. Now we have a well-known, well-structured industry”. Perhaps, if things progress, Dublin could compete with Berlin or Cannes someday.

 

The 2018 Audi Dublin International Film Festival takes place from 21 February – 4 March 2018.

 

 

Preview of Irish Film @ ADIFF 2018

 

 

http://filmireland.net/2018/01/26/film-festivals-2018-here-abroad/

 

 

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8 Irish Docs Announced for ADIFF

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With the main programme announcement just under a week away, the Audi Dublin International Film Festival (21st Feb-4th March) have announced this year’s Irish documentary line-up a week early.

One farmer’s courageous struggle to maintain a centuries-old lifestyle in the shadow of a huge multinational is traced in the Irish Premiere of Feargal Ward’s The Lonely Battle of Thomas Reid; the walk of the Camino is re-invented as a Kerry curragh sea journey in the Irish Premiere of Dónal Ó’Céilleachair’s The Camino Voyage featuring Brendan Begley and Glen Hansard; and Paul Duane traces a hypnotic musical journey that brings us to the earliest Western music still in existence in the World Premiere of While You Live, Shine.

A less welcome tradition, that of dissident Republican vigilantism in pockets of the North, is shockingly explored in the Irish Premiere of Sinéad O’Shea’s much-anticipated A Mother Brings Her Son to Be Shot. The Troubles also reverberate through the Irish Premiere of Donal Foreman’s The Image You Missed, which sees the filmmaker grapple with the legacy of his estranged father, Arthur MacCaig, and the decades-spanning archive of the conflict in Northern Ireland that he created.

Each year the Arts Council’s Reel Art scheme, in association with ADIFF and Filmbase, commissions two films that offer filmmakers a chance to make highly creative, imaginative and experimental documentaries on an artistic theme. Receiving their World Premieres at this year’s festival in the IFI are Rouzbeh Rashidi’s Phantom Islandsa visceral exploration of the boundaries between documentary and fiction and Niall McCann’s reflective encounter with Irish musician and artist Adrian Crowley in The Science of Ghosts.

Lastly, major Irish filmmaker Pat Collins returns to documentary with Twilight, a beautiful evocation of the end of day, that was filmed over two years in Baltimore, West Cork.

Tickets for the Irish documentaries at ADIFF are available now at (www.diff.ie or 01 687 7974).

Season Tickets are also now on sale alongside tickets for the Fantastic Flix young people’s programme, the Paul Schrader season, the Surprise Film, Immersive Stories: Conference and Exhibition, and the silent film presentations in association with the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. The full ADIFF Programme will be released on Jan 24th.

Irish Documentaries at ADIFF 2018 – Schedule

Saturday 24th February
18.30 The Lonely Battle of Thomas Reid   Light House 1
Filmmaker in attendance: Feargal Ward

Monday 26th February
18.30 The Science of Ghosts   IFI
Filmmaker in attendance: Niall McCann

Tuesday 27th February
18.30 Phantom Islands   IFI
In attendance: Rouzbeh Rashidi

Wednesday 28th February
17.50 Twilight   Light House 2
In attendance: Pat Collins

18.45 While You Live, Shine   Light House 2
In attendance: Paul Duane

Thursday 1st March
18.15 The Image You Missed   Light House 2
In attendance: Donal Foreman

Friday 2nd March
18.15 The Camino Voyage   IFI
In attendance: Dónal Ó Céilleachair

Saturday 3rd March
18.15 A Mother Brings Her Son to Be Shot   Light House 1
In attendance: Sinéad O’Shea

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ADIFF 2017 Irish Film Review: Nails

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Stephen Porzio takes a bloodied hammer to Denis Bartok’s Irish horror film Nails, which screened at the Audi Dublin International Film Festival.

The latest entry in Ireland’s recent renaissance of horror – Nails stars scream queen Shauna Macdonald (The Descent) as Dana, the victim of a hit and run which has left her paralysed from the waist down and unable to breathe and talk properly. While recuperating, her hospital room is plagued by a malevolent force. However, neither her husband (Steve Wall), her nurse (Ross Noble) or her psychiatrist (Robert O’Mahoney) believe her, with the latter citing PTSD as the cause for Dana’s alarm.

Nails, in many respects, is standard horror fare. Its structure is familiar – a haunted location, a new guest, a spectral attack, the expository ghost’s back-story and a special effects heavy climax. Yet, Nails marks itself out from the pack of similarly sounding movies in a number of ways. Most notably, the dramatic portions of the film are as, maybe even more, engaging than the horror sections. Director Dennis Bartok really succeeds in conveying the terror of Dana’s paralysis through certain editing choices. The opening credits – which stress the importance of feet and legs to the exercise obsessed pre-accident Dana – are an inspired choice.

Another example is the way he shoots the first scene in which we see the hero being bathed in hospital. The camera angles deliberately evoke that of a sexual assault. The cutting between the pained grimace on Dana’s face to Ross Noble’s Trevor performing the task is what makes this invasion of space all the more palpable for the viewer. We later learn the nurse is a good person just doing his job but in the moment the audience are in the head-space of the trapped protagonist, forced to let a stranger touch her. It’s unsurprising the original title for Nails was P.O.V. as the viewer experiences much of the drama from Dana’s limited point of view, creating an effective claustrophobic feeling.

Leading actress Shauna Macdonald joked at the post-screening Q&A that she accepted the role because she thought it would be an easy gig – being confined to a hospital bed for the majority of the running time. Nothing could be further from the truth. She gives a tour-de-force – nailing the strained speech and movement of somebody with her condition but also selling some of the quite fun third-act campy dialogue – where everything gets turned up to eleven in real tongue and cheek fashion.

Worth mentioning also is Ross Noble who is very solid in his strange but lovable character’s skin – someone who is medically trained as a nurse but also lives at Dana’s hospital working as a handyman – rolling cigarettes and watching Monster Trucks in his basement room.

Even when the movie unveils its ghost’s backstory and loses some of its intrigue – Macdonald’s sterling work, the fun characters and the interesting slant on a well-worn genre keep Nails interesting. Plus, its dark ending separates it further from the likes of the tweenie-aimed Annabelle or Ouija. Nails, instead, fits neatly with interesting horror like Wake Wood, Citadel, The Hallow – movies indicative of the burgeoning Irish horror movement.

 

Nails screened on Monday, 20th February  2017 at Cineworld as part of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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ADIFF 2017 Irish Film Review: Sanctuary

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Stephen Porzio checks out Len Collins’ debut feature, which screened at this year’ s Audi Dublin International Film Festival.

There is a tendency within society to treat adults with intellectual disabilities as if they are children. It’s not the result of hate or disrespect. In fact, it’s quite the opposite – because they require special care and are innocent to many of the responsibilities of a “normal life”, society equates them to kids. However, it’s important to remember that people with special needs often crave the same things most ordinary adults do – intimacy, love and sex – experiences that are often out of reach for them.

Len Collins’ debut feature Sanctuary builds his drama around these needs. Larry (Kieran Coppinger) and Sophie (Charlene Kelly) are two disabled people in love. However, because of Irish law, they cannot consummate their relationship unless they are married. Craving intimacy and time alone, the two exploit the feckless nature of their care worker Tom (Robert Doherty), bribing him into renting the two lovers a hotel room for an afternoon tryst. The trio sneak away during their special needs group’s regular cinema outing. As Tom neglects the others in his care to accompany Larry and Sophie, the rest of the gang leave the theatre – embarking on their own adventures throughout Galway City.

Written and based on a play by Christian O’Reilly (who had a hand in the similarly disability themed Inside I’m Dancing), the film is undeniably audacious and brave in terms of its subject matter. Not only is it rather amazing to see a cast comprising mostly of intellectually disabled actors, but to witness them communicating their experience with such elegance and grace is an incredible feat. Selecting the same performers from the stage run of Sanctuary was a master stroke decision by O’Reilly and Collins. The performances feel so natural, suggesting the writer and director crafted a positive atmosphere – enabling their actors, who must have already spent a huge portion of time with their characters, to play their parts with an authenticity unparalleled with many films of a similar ilk.

The movie, rather admirably isn’t black and white about the issues it raises. Although, Sanctuary’s plot centres on people denied the basic right of any “normal” person – the right to express love physically, the narrative does wrestle with the complications of this premise. Tom points out that the law was created to actually protect those with an intellectual disability from being exploited, a consequence of the many sexual abuse cases in Ireland’s recent past. Also, a substantial portion of the drama rests on Tom’s inability to use a condom, having never been taught sex-education growing up, a necessity for teens in most secondary schools. Sanctuary, right up until its dark ending, refuses to be morally simple in its questioning of how society perceives and treats those who are different and require considerate care in Ireland.

The film is also quite timely in certain respects, highlighting how in recession-era Ireland, special need care programmes were the first victims of funding cuts. An early scene sees Tom’s group being told they are now unemployed, having previously been given small menial work. When a member asks if they are being punished for doing a poor job, Tom replies: “no one wants to pay you properly and if they do you’ll lose your benefits. Some bright civil servant got a pay raise for that one” –  a line painfully relevant to anyone with disabled family members entangled in government red-tape.

Yet, despite its bold and weighty themes, Sanctuary does have tonal problems. For instance, the scenes of Larry and Sophie in their hotel room are beautifully delicate, capturing deftly the happiness, the sadness and the nervousness of the characters’ relationship. It’s as if the two have wanted this time alone for so long, that they never believed it could happen. Now that it has, they are petrified of wasting it. These moments jar with the escapades of the other members of their cinema trip, which feel like they are from a much lesser, more accessible mainstream comedy.

Although these vignettes are intermittently funny, a lot of the “jokes” derive from the wacky actions of the protagonists, something which feels a little wrong given that people with special needs often can’t control the way they act. Plus, a comic scene where a character, in an effort to find Tom, karate chops the doors of toilet cubicles – leaving the people using them startled – just doesn’t flow with Sophie’s harrowing tale of the sexual abuse she suffered in the past just a few minutes later.

That said, these transgressions are forgivable because the movie’s comedy may enable Sanctuary to reach a larger demographic. Thus, enabling it to get a wider release in Ireland, perhaps on the level of A Date for Mad Mary – something which it deserves. Not only does it look like a proper film – I was surprised to learn it was based on a play, a credit to Collin’s direction – but it focuses on the trials and tribulations of people often under presented or misrepresented in cinema, let alone Irish cinema.

 

Sanctuary screened on Saturday, 18th February 2017 at the Light House Cinema as part of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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ADIFF 2017 Irish Film Review: Without Name

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Richard Drumm enters the woods of Lorcan Finnegan’s Without Name, which screened at Audi Dublin International Film Festival 2017.

Set mainly in and around the titular woods of the name-lacking variety, Without Name follows Eric (Alan McKenna), a surveyor sent to evaluate said stretch of land on the quiet for a shady developer type. Noting an increased detachment at home from his wife and child, not to mention an overall mood of technology taking over his life, Eric heads into the wild. While nominally there for work, he’s also trying to escape his worries and is looking forward to some isolated alone time with his mistress, Olivia (the ever reliable Niamh Algar), who’s assisting him with the survey.

Things quickly begin to turn strange; apparitions in the foggy wood, tales of madness regarding the previous tenant of the cottage (whose manuscript Eric’s been reading and slowly letting creep into his psyche) and the obligatory unnerving locals, in this case one with a penchant for substances of the mind-altering variety. The fog thickens, paranoia grows and tensions rise as Eric seems set to repeat the descent into catatonia that befell the previous inhabitant of the cottage. Is it all in his (increasingly drug-addled) mind or is there something sinister afoot?

Despite very much being marketed as a horror, the film itself is more of a psychological thriller; big on mood-building but unconcerned with delivering any real scares. Its commitment to this atmosphere-crafting is quite laudable given that it avoids the temptation to cash in on a lazy jump-scare during any of its quieter moments. The pacing is intentionally slow; reflective of the overall ’70s-throwback feel it has both tonally and in terms of how it was shot; with its heavy use of fog machines and other in-camera effects for the horror elements. There’s also a nice attempt at some Lynchian abstract creepiness with the occasional extended shot slowly zooming in on the woods while the soundscape gets increasing claustrophobic with the noise of wind and creaking trees accompanied with droning score. Said score is one of the highlights, doing a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to the atmosphere and effectively externalising Eric’s gradual breakdown, at least until the visuals can take over once the drugs get involved.

There’s an interesting idea brought in early on, implying a sort of ‘Silent Hill’-esque scenario at play whereby the woods don’t exist as a fixed location but rather have multiple plains that can shift around you without you realising, at least until people start disappearing in front of you or you start seeing your own body and creepy shadow men. It’s a neat idea that does get a little more fleshed out in the somewhat abrupt finale but on the whole feels slightly wasted.

While, again, I’m willing to praise to high heaven any film that doesn’t rely on jump scares, it is a bit of an issue that nothing of note really happens for the first two thirds of the film when that time could have been better used exploring the spatial-fluidity, perhaps having Eric getting lost in it or having more sinister encounters with the shadow-being which very occasionally stalks him. This is far from a film-ruining problem but it is disappointing given the often underutilised potential for creepiness such geographical manipulation brings.

Otherwise the film performs well. There’s a definite attention to detail and care put into the sound design and mix, while the overall production is well shot and makes great use of the location. The actors also acquit themselves well; especially the believable chemistry between the two leads, which is all the more impressive given the relatively sparse amount of screen time McKenna and Algar actually share. The decision to eschew CGI in favour of simpler in-camera effects – along with giving it that nice ’70s vibe – means this film will likely age far more gracefully than a lot of modern low-budget horrors (and indeed, many “low-budget” horrors with significantly higher budgets that this).

If you’re well-versed in horror, there’s not a huge amount here that could surprise you but there is at least very little that would annoy you. A valiant attempt at putting atmosphere ahead of cheap scares that could have benefited from more fully-realising its concepts but which remains an engaging  watch all the same.

Without Name screened on Saturday, 18th February 2017 at the Light House Cinema as part of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival.

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Podcast: Interview with Emer Reynolds, Director of ‘The Farthest’

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Jonathan Victory talks to Emer Reynolds about her stunning documentary on NASA’s Voyager mission, which screens at this year’s Audi Dublin International Film Festival. 

It is one of humankind’s greatest achievements. More than 12 billion miles away a tiny spaceship is leaving our Solar System and entering the void of deep space – the first man-made object ever to do so. Dying within its heart is a nuclear generator that will beat for perhaps another decade before the lights on Voyager 1 finally go out. But this little craft will travel on for millions of years, carrying a Golden Record bearing recordings and images of life on Earth. In all likelihood Voyager will outlast humanity. The Farthest will celebrates these magnificent machines, the men and women who built them and the vision that propelled them farther than anyone could ever have hoped.

The Farthest screens on Sunday, 26th Feb 2017 at 2:00pm at the Savoy cinema.

Director Emer Reynolds and Voyager Project Manager (1977) John Casani will attend this screening.

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Award-Winning Irish Film Sanctuary Goes On Tour

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one of the most ambitious, innovative and deeply moving Irish films of recent times” Film Ireland
 
 “Sanctuary is an utter joy of a movie” Galway Advertiser

The Audi Dublin International Film Festival brings one of the most original, freshest and funniest Irish romantic comedies of recent years, Len Collin’s Sanctuary to the Light House Cinema as part of the main festival and, in collaboration with access>CINEMA, to three regional venues, on a special tour which has been supported by the Arts Council Touring and Dissemination of Work Scheme.

Len Collin’s Sanctuary is a big screen adaptation of a hit play from Blue Teapot Theatre Company, Performing Arts School & Outreach programme for people with intellectual disabilities at the forefront of arts & disability in Ireland. The film premiered at the Galway Film Fleadh in 2016 where it won the Best First Irish Feature Award.

Larry and Sophie are in love. They bribe the feckless Tom to book them into a hotel for an afternoon tryst and look forward to getting to know each other, like countless couples before them. But Larry and Sophie aren’t any couple; they both have intellectual disabilities and Tom is their care worker. By attempting to be intimate, they aren’t just breaking the rules – they’re breaking the law.

Commenting on the shifting legal situation Inclusion Ireland Campaigns & Policy Lead Sarah Lennon said “Sanctuary brings light to the uncertain legal landscape for people with intellectual disabilities who wish to have intimate relationships. The timing of the Festival Tour with ADIFF and access>CINEMA will coincide with a law reform in the guise of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2015 which is expected in the next week and will create improved legal certainty about who can and cannot have intimate, sexual relationships. There remains a lot to do and it is important that artists like Len Collin and Blue Teapot continue their advocacy.”     

Audi Dublin International Film Festival Screening
Sat 18th February | 20:30 | Light House Cinema
Smithfield Square, Dublin 7
Booking / information: 01 687 7974
http://www.diff.ie

Tour Schedule
Mon 20th February | 20:00 | Pavilion Theatre
Marine Road, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin
Booking / information: 01 231 2929
www.paviliontheatre.ie

Tue 21st February | 20:00 |Droichead Arts Centre
Stockwell Street, Drogheda, Co. Louth
Booking / information: 041 98 33946
www.droichead.com

Wed 22nd February | 20:00 |Riverbank Arts Centre
Main Street, Newbridge, Co. Kildare
Booking / information: 045 448327
www.riverbank.ie

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Podcast: Interview with Grainne Humphreys, ADIFF 2017 Festival Director

 

Film Directors John Butler and Jim Sheridan with Grainne Humphreys - ADIFF Festival Director when details were announced of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival 2017 which will take place from from 16th February 2017 to 26th February 2017. The world’s best films are coming to Audi Dublin International Film Festival with Vanessa Redgrave, Nathalie Baye, Kerry Fox, Ross Noble, Ben Wheatley, and Anna Friel joining top Irish talent Jack Reynor, Moe Dunford, Cillian Murphy, John Butler and Aiden Gillen on the red carpet. The 2017 programme rolls out the red carpet in cinemas right across the city for a rich mix of new films from across the world accompanied by top International and Irish guest talent that will see tens of thousands of Irish film fans seek out new cinema experiences across the eleven days and nights of the festival. Tickets go on sale and the digital programmewill be available to browse and download from 18.30 on 18th January at www.diff.ie, by phone on +353 1 687 7974 or in person at DIFF, 13 Ormond Quay. Pictures: Brian McEvoy No repro fee for one use
Film director John Butler and Jim Sheridan with Grainne Humphreys at the launch of ADIFF 2017. Picture: Brian McEvoy.

Grace Corry sat down with Grainne Humphreys, Festival Director of Audi Dublin International Film Festival to delve into the delights of this year’s festival.

 

The Audi Dublin International Film Festival takes place 16 – 26 February 2017.

Check out our preview of the Irish films screening at this year’s festival

Check out the full programme here

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Preview of Irish Film @ ADIFF 2017

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The Audi Dublin International Film Festival returns 16th-26th February 2017 with a rich mix of homegrown films and films from across the world accompanied by top international and Irish guest talent across the eleven days and nights of the festival.

Here we take a look at the Irish films on offer at this year’s festival.

 

Maudie (Aisling Walsh)

Thurs, 16th Feb 2017 • 7:30pm @ Savoy 1

 

Based on a true story, Maudie is an unlikely romance in which the reclusive Everett Lewis (Ethan Hawke) hires a fragile yet determined woman named Maudie Dowley (Sally Hawkins) to be his housekeeper. Maudie, bright-eyed but hunched and with hands crippled by rheumatoid arthritis, yearns to be independent, to live away from her protective family, and she also yearns, passionately, to create art. Although untrained, Maudie begins to paint scenes of her rural life in Nova Scotia, and the simplicity and joy they express attract attention, first with her neighbours, then with tourists, and eventually with an international audience. Unexpectedly, gruff and inarticulate Everett finds himself falling in love. Maudie charts Everett’s efforts to protect himself from being hurt, Maudie’s deep and abiding love for this difficult man and her surprising rise to fame as a folk painter.

Jim Sheridan, Vanessa Redgrave, Eric Bana and Susan Lynch will attend this screening. 

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The Secret Scripture (Jim Sheridan)

Sat, 18th Feb 2017 • 7:30pm @ Savoy 1

 

Based on Sebastian Barry’s acclaimed novel, Jim Sheridan’s first Irish-set film since The Boxer (1997) explores the life and history of Roseanne McNulty (Vanessa Redgrave), a woman confined to the Roscommon Mental Hospital for 50 years. As the institution is about to close, Dr. Grene (Eric Bana) is sent to see whether she’s fit to be released. He’s intrigued by Roseanne’s eccentricities and her fierce attachment to her Bible, in which she’s been keeping a diary since she was first admitted. As he delves into her past, Dr. Grene gets to know the younger Roseanne (played by Rooney Mara) and eventually learns the terrible truth about her confinement. Shot in the starkly beautiful west of Ireland, The Secret Scripture uncovers a dark chapter in Ireland’s history.

Jim Sheridan and Vanessa Redgrave will attend this screening. 

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Amanda Coogan: Long Now (Paddy Cahill)

Sat 18th Feb 2017 • 12:00pm @ Irish Film Institute

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An exploration of Coogan’s durational performance art practice, the film captures Coogan during a gruelling six-week live durational exhibition, I’ll sing you a song from around the town. Hosted in Dublin’s RHA Gallery, the exhibition became the gallery’s most successful and visited in its history. Spanning six weeks, Coogan performs live, for six hours a day, five days a week for the entire run. The film visually explores the exhibition’s beautiful live performance, interwoven with Coogan’s reflections on the work.

Amanda Coogan will attend this screening.

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Without Name (Lorcan Finnegan)

Sat 18th Feb 2017 • 6:00pm @ Light House Cinema

Eric, a troubled land surveyor, takes up a job in a remote forest. Deep in the woods, he becomes aware of a malevolent presence, an intelligence of sorts. A silhouette flits between trees. The place fascinates the fragmenting Eric as much as it disturbs him. Is his mind playing tricks on him or is there some ancient horror wishing him harm?

Lorcan Finnegan, Alan McKenna and Niamh Algar will attend this screening.

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Pickups (Jamie Thraves)

Sat 18th Feb 2017  • 8:15pm @ Irish Film Institute

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Pickups, the new film directed by Jamie Thraves, is about a man called Aidan (conveniently enough, played by Aidan Gillen) who is suffering from insomnia, back trouble and the breakdown of his marriage. Aidan finds solace in a number of strangers he picks up, although he’s now concerned someone is stalking him. Work is getting on top of him too, he murdered a couple of people last week and he still has more people to kill.

Jamie Thraves and Aidan Gillen will attend this screening.

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Sanctuary (Len Collin)

Sat 18th Feb 2017 • 8:30pm @ Light House Cinema

Sanctuary on Tour:
Mon 20th Feb • 20:00 @ Pavilion Theatre, Dún Laoghaire
Tue 21st Feb • 20:00 @ Droichead Arts Centre, Drogheda
Wed 22nd Feb• 20:00 @ Riverbank Arts Centre, Newbridge

Larry and Sophie are in love. What could be more natural for them than to want to be alone, together? They bribe the feckless Tom to book them into a hotel for an afternoon’s tryst and look forward to getting to know each other, like countless couples before them. But Larry and Sophie aren’t any couple – they both have intellectual disabilities and Tom is their care worker. By attempting to be intimate, they aren’t just breaking the rules – they’re breaking the law.

While Larry and Sophie try to figure out their feelings, their future and how to use a condom, their friends from the training centre escape the not so watchful eye of Tom and go on a joyful rampage through Galway.

Len Collin will attend this screening.

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Sanctuary on Tour – Tickets available directly from the venues.


In Loco Parentis (Neasa Ní Chianáin, David Rane)

Mon, 20th Feb 2017 • 8:30pm @ Light House Cinema
Thurs, 23rd Feb 2017 • 2:00pm @ Light House Cinema

 

John and Amanda teach Latin and Maths and English and Electric Guitar at a fantastical stately home turned school – previously the country seat of the eccentric Lord Headfort. A career of nearly fifty years is drawing to a close for the teachers who have become legends with the mantra: reading! rithmetic! rock n roll! …. but for pupil and teacher alike, leaving is the hardest lesson to learn.

Both screenings will follow by a Q+A with Neasa Ní Chianáin and David Rane.

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The Piano Lesson (Ken Wardrop)

Mon 20th Feb 2017  6:30pm @ Irish Film Institute

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The Piano Lesson charts the musical journey of numerous piano students through the commitment and pressure of the keyboard examinations. The piano lesson offers a unique window into our students’ lives. It is an opportunity to consider the impact that music, learning and creativity has. We examine relationships with their teachers, their counterparts, of course the music and definitely the pianos. We will discover meaningful truth in their successes and setbacks; unearthing charming curiosities that will make us laugh and cry.

Director Ken Wardrop will attend this screening.

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Tomato Red (Juanita Wilson)

Sat 25th Feb 2017 • 8:45pm @ Light House Cinema

Tells the tale of two siblings, Jamalee and Jason Merridew, and their ex-con sidekick Sammy Barlach. For Jamalee, her hair tomato red suitably matching her rage and ambition, their small town American life just won’t do.
Jamalee’s dreams are made in Hollywood, among tuxedos and palm trees. Jason, blessed with drop-dead good looks, is the local object of female obsession and their ticket out of town. However, he hills and hollows of the Ozarks can be a very dangerous place. Sammy is meant to be the muscle Jamalee and Jason need to get out, but not even he can protect them from anything.

Juanita Wilson and Anna Friel will attend this screening.

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Nails (Dennis Bartok)

Mon 20th Feb 2017 • 8:45pm @ Cineworld

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Dana Milgrom (Shauna Macdonald), a track coach survives a near-death car accident, only to find herself almost completely paralyzed and trapped inside her own body, forced to communicate via an artificial voice program. While recovering she becomes convinced that some evil presence exists inside her hospital room and is intent on killing her. No one believes her – not even her own husband and daughter, who think she’s experienced a mental breakdown.

Shauna Macdonald, Leah McNamara and Ross Noble will attend this screening.

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Photo City (John Murphy, Traolach Ó Murchú)

Tue 21st Feb 2017 • 6:00pm @ Irish Film Institute

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Rochester, NY is a city defined by photography. Once dominated by Kodak, the city now faces a new digital future. Photo City presents a portrait of photography itself as told through the lens of the citizens of a place defined by the art form. The film explores how the various strands of the city interact with photography, how its past informs its present, and how the resilience of its citizens perhaps suggests a future.

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The King’s Choice (Erik Poppe)

Wed 22nd Feb 2017 • 8:40pm @ Cineworld

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On the 9th of April 1940, German troops invade Oslo. The king of Norway is faced with a choice, which will change his nation forever.

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Unless (Alan Gilsenan)

Wed 22nd Feb 2017 • 8:50pm @ Light House Cinema

A Toronto writer struggles with her daughter’s decision to drop out of college and runaway… only to discover her living on the street pan-handling and refusing to speak, with a cardboard sign reading GOODNESS around her neck. Based on the novel by Carol Shields.

Alan Gilsenan will attend this screening.

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Notes on Rave in Dublin (James Redmond)

Fri 24th Feb 2017 • 6:30pm @ Light House Cinema
Sun 26th Feb 2017 • 2:00pm @ Light House Cinema

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A roller coaster ride through the birth pangs of dance music in our dirty old town. From the democratic romance of those early loved up dancefloors to how a cold social stratification and commercialisation crept back. That left it up to a network of outsider labels, pirates, and ravers to establish the indigenous scene that we now call our own. This is a story of how an underground works, mutates and survives.

Filmmaker in Attendance

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The 4th Act (Turlough Kelly)

Sat 25th Feb 2017 • 6:15pm @ Cineworld
Sun 26th Feb 2017 • 4:30pm @ Light House Cinema

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The story of the €1bn regeneration of Ballymun, a high-rise working-class community on the north side of Dublin, through the eyes of the community itself. Drawing on hundreds of hours of local and personal archives collated over the past thirty years, the film explores themes of loss, community, hope and defiance as the residents of Ballymun watch their familiar landscape and way of living disappear.

Filmmaker in Attendance

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The Farthest (Emer Reynolds)

Sun 26th Feb 2017 • 2:00pm @ Savoy 1

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It is one of humankind’s greatest achievements. More than 12 billion miles away a tiny spaceship is leaving our Solar System and entering the void of deep space – the first manmade object ever to do so. Dying within its heart is a nuclear generator that will beat for perhaps another decade before the lights on Voyager 1 finally go out. But this little craft will travel on for millions of years, carrying a Golden Record bearing recordings and images of life on Earth. In all likelihood Voyager will outlast humanity. The Farthest celebrates these magnificent machines, the men and women who built them and the vision that propelled them farther than anyone could ever have hoped.

Director Emer Reynolds and Voyager Project Manager (1977) John Casani will attend this screening.

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Handsome Devil (John Butler)

 @ Savoy 1

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Bullied outsider Ned and macho athlete Conor are forced to share a bedroom at their rugby-mad boarding school. Their unlikely friendship takes them both by surprise as they bond over music and begin practicing guitar together. After their supportive English teacher encourages them to enter a local talent competition, Conor faces increasing pressure to choose between “manly” athletic pursuits and his new love of music. Meanwhile Ned has to decide whether to betray his new friend’s trust to save his own skin. Ultimately, each learns the importance of bravery, loyalty, and finding one’s own voice.

 

Director John Butler and cast members Moe Dunford, Fionn O’Shea, Nicholas Galitzine, Andrew Scott and Michael McElhatton will attend this screening.

 

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Short Films @ ADIFF

Lily (Graham Cantwell)

ADIFF Shorts 1 • Sun 19th Feb 2017 • 4:00pm @ Light House Cinema

A girl with a secret, on the cusp of becoming a young woman. When a misunderstanding with the beautiful and popular Violet leads to a vicious attack, Lily is faced with the greatest challenge of her young life.

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Second to None (Vincent Gallagher)

ADIFF Shorts  1 • Sun 19th Feb 2017 • 4:00pm@ Light House Cinema

Frederick Butterfield is tired of always being runner-up. When he becomes the world’s second oldest person, he hatches a plan to claim first place.

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Gridlock (Ian Hunt Duffy)

ADIFF Shorts 1 • Sun 19th Feb 2017 • 4:00pm@  Light House Cinema

Gridlock is a thriller set during a traffic jam on a country road. When a little girl goes missing from one of the cars, her father forms a desperate search party to find her, and soon everyone is a suspect.

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Breathe (James Doherty)

ADIFF Shorts 2 • Fri 24th Feb 2017 • 6:00pm @ Light House Cinema

A hardy Irish Traveller becomes increasingly concerned with his nine year-old son’s femininity and sets about toughening him up.

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Din (Helen Flanagan)

ADIFF Shorts 2 • Fri 24th Feb 2017 • 6:00pm @ Light House Cinema

Even when sinister noises begin haunting him in his isolated house, ailing farmer Pat refuses to admit that he needs help.

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The Nation Holds Its Breath (Kev Cahill)

ADIFF Shorts 3 • Sat 25th Feb 2017 • 6:15pm @ Light House Cinema 

On the day of the most important football match in Irish history, an expectant father is torn between witnessing the miracle of childbirth and the miracle of reaching the quarterfinals of the World Cup.

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Gone (Patrick Maxwell)

ADIFF Shorts 3 • Sat 25th Feb 2017 • 6:15pm @ Light House Cinema

Paul returns to his hometown to find that his ex-lover has a child with another man. As old sparks reignite, jealousy and revenge lead to fatal consequences.

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Check out the full programme here

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Strong Irish Line-up @ ADIFF 2017

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The Audi Dublin International Film Festival returns 16th-26th February 2017 with a rich mix of homegrown films and films from across the world accompanied by top international and Irish guest talent across the eleven days and nights of the festival.

This year’s festival includes new Irish films from Jim Sheridan, Emer Reynolds, Aiden Gillen, John Butler, Neasa Ní Chianán, Juanita Wilson and Ken Wardrop alongside the Irish premiere of Maudie, the internationally acclaimed biopic of folk artist Maud Lewis by award-winning Irish director Aisling Walsh (Song for a Raggy Boy) and starring Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke.

Jim Sheridan’s The Secret Scripture, adapted from the award-winning novel by Sebastian Barry, will receive a Gala Irish Premiere and see ADIFF present a Volta Award to Vanessa Redgrave. The Volta Award is the Festival’s most prestigious honour, reserved for those who have made an outstanding contribution to the world of film.

Top Irish talent Jack Reynor, Cillian Murphy will attend the Audi Gala screening of Ben Wheatley’s new film Free Fire. ADIFF’s new Centrepiece Gala will be Neasa Ní Chianán and David Rane’s In Loco Parentis documentary study of the Headfort School.

Witness film history in the making at one of the many World Premieres at ADIFF17 including Juanita Wilson’s Tomato Red with cast member Anna Friel in attendance; Dennis Bartok’s terrifying hospital horror Nails; and Aiden Gillen and Jamie Thraves’ Pickups that features Gillen playing a semi-fictionalised version of himself, a troubled actor weighing the price of success.

The Arts Council and ADIFF’s Reel Art documentary commissions receive their World Premieres at the Irish Film Institute. Ken Wardrop brings his characteristic warmth and humanity to piano grade exams in The Piano Lesson while John Murray and Traolach Ó Murchú’s Photo City delves into the celluloid history of Rochester, NY.

Rounding up a stellar festival at ADIFF’s  Closing Night Gala is the Irish premiere of Handsome Devil, John Butler’s (The Stag) new comedy-drama set in an Irish boarding school.

 

Tickets are sale online and the digital programme is available to browse and download  at www.diff.ie

Tickets are available by phone on +353 1 687 7974 or in person at DIFF, 13 Ormond Quay.

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Call For: ADIFF Volunteers

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The Audi Dublin International Film Festival needs a team of smart, enthusiastic volunteers who are ready to pull together and make the Festival a success.

Help will be needed in areas such as venues, hospitality, office administration, production, ticketing, promotions, marketing and communications so whether you are welcoming festival-goers to a venue and making sure that they’re getting the most out of the festival or helping behind the scenes at ADIFF HQ it’s a great way to get first-hand insight into the inner workings of an international entertainment event.

The festival takes its volunteers seriously and is proud of the diverse and committed group of people from Dublin and much further afield who generously give their time and who often return year after year. It’s also a chance for volunteers to build up experience, explore the city in a new way and to make new connections – both whilst on the job and of course relaxing after a film at the Festival Club.

Depending on individual availability, volunteers can either apply to be full-time (a minimum of one shift per day during the Festival) or part-time. Each volunteer needs to be able to commit to a minimum of 5 volunteering shifts.

Volunteer applications are now open! Go to the ADIFF website for more information and to download an application and make sure to apply before 5pm on January 13th, 2017. You must be over 18 to apply. Questions, comments or queries can be sent to John McHale, Volunteers Coordinator volunteers@diff.ie.

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Jack Reynor, Ben Wheatley and Cillian Murphy @ ADIFF

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Dates have just been announced alongside the first Audi Gala event, giving a sneak peak at the exciting guests lined up for the Audi Dublin International Film Festival.  Scheduled in 2017 to take place between 16th -26thFebruary, ADIFF sets the agenda for the year in film.

Top Irish talent Jack Reynor and Cillian Murphy are set to join cult-classic directing maestro Ben Wheatley (Kill List, High-Rise, Sightseers, A Field in England) for the exclusive Audi Gala screening of his gun-toting, 1970s-set crime caper Free Fire on Thurs Feb 23rd at 18.30 at the Savoy Cinema. Tickets are on sale now at diff.ie. More guests and events are already confirmed, but the festival line-up remains strictly under wraps at ADIFF HQ.

In Free Fire Justine (Brie Larson) has brokered a meeting in a deserted warehouse between two Irishmen (Cillian Murphy, Michael Smiley) and a gang led by Vernon (Sharlto Copley) and Ord (Armie Hammer) who are selling them a stash of guns. But when shots are fired in the handover, a heart stopping game of survival ensues.

Director Ben Wheatley said ‘It’s always very exciting to have a film at the Audi Dublin International Film Festival. Showing Free Fire feels particularly satisfying as two of its stars, Jack Reynor and Cillian Murphy, were in the audience for the screening of High-Rise in Dublin last year. Afterwards they took me out and showed me the town, and we gently drank fizzy water and were all done and dusted by 11 at night. Just how I like it. This year I hope to have some more of this moderate, sensible fun.’ 

Grainne Humphreys, Festival Director of ADIFF ‘One of the most distinctive and exciting talents in contemporary cinema, Ben Wheatley has assembled one of the best casts in recent memory for Free Fire. A generous and ever popular guest of the festival – I am delighted that Ben and company will join us to celebrate the deliciously black comedy which will dazzle audiences on February 23rd.’

Richard Molloy, Head of Marketing and Product from Audi Ireland said ‘We are really looking forward to year two of our relationship with the festival, in addition to hosting Cillian Murphy, Jack Reynor and Ben Wheatley at what will be a star-studded Audi Gala screening of Free Fire.  The Audi Dublin International Film Festival always attracts the best film talent from both Ireland and abroad, and this year’s lineup will certainly attract even more attendees to the 2017 festival.’

The much-coveted Festival season tickets have just gone on sale at the brand new website www.diff.ie. Getting your hands on one of these gold-dust passes is the only way to guarantee your entry to the full Festival line-up, including all galas and guest events. Gift vouchers are also available online now – a great way to give film lovers a touch of glamour to look forward to in the New Year.

The Dublin International Film Festival is sponsored by Audi, and funded by The Arts Council and The Irish Film Board. Key partners and funders include hotel partner The Merrion Hotel, print transport partner Wells Cargo, post-production partner Windmill Lane and media partners Entertainment.ie, 98FM, The Times & The Sunday Times.

Tickets for Audi Gala screening of Free Fire, ADIFF season tickets and gift vouchers are available now at www.diff.ie.

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Call For: 15th Audi Dublin International Film Festival Opens for Submissions

In 2017 the Audi Dublin International Film Festival will return for its 15th year, with submissions open from 20th April through Film Freeway, with entry available to features, documentary, family, animation and short-film until 1st October 2016. Bookended by Sundance, Berlin and the Oscars, ADIFF is essential in promoting Dublin as one of the world’s leading creative cities, in a month which immerses audiences in film worldwide.

 

ADIFF boasts a high volume of submissions every year with entries from over 55 countries. Early submitters will be able to apply at a reduced cost.

http://filmireland.net/2015/08/24/festivals-funding-schemes-deadlines-2015/

 

 

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ADIFF Irish Film Review: The Judas Iscariot Lunch

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Gemma Creagh was at Teresa O’Grady-Peyton’s documentary The Judas Iscariot Lunch, which screened at this year’s Audi Dublin International Film Festival.

The world premiere of The Judas Iscariot Lunch saw Screen 3 of The Lighthouse Cinema filled by 6:30pm, Thursday 25th February.  As the house lights went down, us audience members, ranging from 18 – 80, were greeted with an opening sequence of older gentleman, toasting wine, and chatting abstractly. This, in the same organic, gentle flow that would progress the whole piece, gave way to the exposition of who those men were growing up – and how they found they found themselves in their teens and studying at the Missionary Society of St Columban.

From the intimacy of their homes, thirteen Irish former priests – all quirky, chatty and charismatic characters from very different backgrounds – spoke frankly about how they came to be missionaries in East Asia, the Pacific and South America in the 1960s and ’70s and their struggles in adapting. This led on to the difficulties in their lives following their return. These men were among 200 priests who made the difficult decision to leave active ministry, many of whom ended up struggling to find their place in society again.

What is most striking about this documentary, and a testament to director Teresa O’Grady-Peyton, is the level of intimacy she reaches with these subjects. These are Irish men in their 60s, 70s and 80s who are chatting openly and humorously about sex – eliciting many a chuckle from this audience, mind you – as well as being honest about loneliness and loss.

Although not avoiding them for a second, O’Grady-Peyton, deals with issues of celibacy and faith within Catholicism, and does so with a surprising level of gentleness and understanding that doesn’t hijack the focus from these men and their stories. This may be in part with the fact Joe O’Grady, Teresa’s husband, was the inspiration for the documentary, after he left the church himself at aged 35.

Most of us left that evening, full of wine, nibbles and the feeling like we had just spent our time are chatting to close friends. These priests were branded Judas Iscariots by Pope Paul VI, and what haunted me for days afterwards is how they were, and continue to be, let down by the Church.

 

The Judas Iscariot Lunch screened on 25th February 2016 as part of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival 18 – 28 February)

 

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ADIFF Irish Film Review: Viva

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Deirdre Molumby headed along to Paddy Breathnach’s Viva, which closed this year’s Audi Dublin International Film Festival.

This year, the Audi Dublin International Film Festival closed with the Cuban-shot Irish-produced feature Viva. The screening had generated great anticipation as Viva was one of nine films shortlisted for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar this year, and it received critical acclaim at the prestigious Telluride Film Festival last September. Viva also won the Dublin Film Festival’s AUDI-ence award.

Set in Havana and directed by Paddy Breathnach (I Went Down, Shrooms, Man About Dog), Viva follows an eighteen year old named Jesus (newcomer Héctor Medina) who works as a hairdresser and make-up artist for drag performers at a local night club. With his mother deceased and his father in prison, the sweet-natured Jesus makes just enough of a living that he can maintain his humble flat but he dreams of playing a bigger role in the club – performing on stage as a drag act. When one of the show’s lead performers abruptly walks out, auditions are held for a replacement and Jesus gets his chance to shine. However, he is young and inexperienced, and is criticised by his mentor, another performer named Mama (Luis Alberto García), for not delivering feeling on the stage. But Jesus soon has something much bigger to worry about. His father, Angel (Jorge Perugorría), returns from prison, and is determined that Jesus will not perform.

At one point, Angel describes Havana as ‘the most beautiful slum in the world’, and indeed the film paints a beautiful portrait of the city. At the ADIFF screening, star of the film Luis Alberto García, who plays Mama, said the film ‘gave a dignity to poverty’, and this context is very much visible in the film as well. The world is both accessible and welcoming through its smart screenplay and colourfully drawn characters. It is also a relief that while the drag performers are fun and vibrant, they never become silly caricatures as one would see on something like TV reality show Rupaul’s Drag Race. In Alberto García, Héctor Medina and Jorge Perugorría, we get three strong performances and engrossing characters that keep the audience on their toes as their contrasting wills battle out.

Mark O’Halloran’s previous screenwriting credits include Adam & Paul and Garage, two critically acclaimed features directed by Lenny Abrahamson which did wonders for both their careers. Here, O’Halloran again looks at marginalised figures in society and exercises the minimalism he demonstrated in his previous work in this film also. Very little actually happens in Viva and there is a tangible sense of realism in this. We are given a real insight into the place, its characters, and are granted a much more satisfying cinematic experience which opposes escapist fantasy as a result.

At heart, Viva is an age old story about being true to oneself. But with its talented cast, stunning Cuban backdrop, and slowly enrapturing screenplay, it is one with a difference.

 

Viva screened on 28thFebruary 2016 as part of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival 18 – 28 February)

 

 

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ADIFF Irish Film Review: Atlantic

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Katie Kelly casts a net over Risteard O’Domhnaill’s documentary Atlantic, which screened at the Audi Dublin International Film Festival.

 

If you have any sort of an interest in Ireland and our great natural resources, Atlantic is an absolute must see, which will have your blood boil, and make you feel impassioned by an often over-looked issue.

Narrated by Brendan Gleeson, beautifully shot and directed by Risteard O’Domhnaill, this documentary offers an impreccably presented insight into the lives of three  fishermen, in Ireland, Norway and Newfoundland.

Having no experience of fishing, and not knowing anyone from a fishing community, I did wonder would Risteard O’Domhnaill’s second offering would interest me. I watched his debut doc The Pipe because of the media coverage surrounding the Rossport 5 and Shell to Sea. I went into Atlantic, however, fairly clueless to the scale of the issue. But from start to finish I engaged with these men and their communities as if they were friends. I was outraged at the injustices, pleased about their successes and generally felt a a real sense of comradery with all of them. They are all real hard-workers that deserve success, and not to struggle despite having an amazing resource on their door-step.

These are three massively contrasting stories with one thing in common – the Atlantic Ocean.

In Newfoundland, we see the struggles fishermen have had because of over-fishing for many years that resulted in an eventual ban. In Norway we see the success and conservation of their most important natural resource. Back home in Ireland, we meet fishermen in Arranmore, a tiny community that has been devastated by Ireland’s fishery policies, and its massive EU quotas. Massive trawlers eclipse the tiny fishing boats indigenous people depend on to survive. The whole issue has also been over-looked, and I certainly found myself asking why.

Atlantic offers an insight into the importance of the sea, at home and abroad. Not just for fish but for gas and oil, the real profit-making and enviornmentally precarious commodoties.

The emphasis for many traditional fisherman has shifted from fish to oil. Many fishermen in Newfoundland and Norway have switched profession. However, in Norway, scientists have been studying the effects of oil drilling on the sea and its very important inhabitants. The results have been taken on board (excuse the pun). Oil drilling has ceased in certain parts because it was disrupting marine life. It seems the Norwegian government actually cares about this resource. It is this legislation that maintains Norway’s high standard of living.

Newfoundland’s story is a warning of what can happen when fish stocks are abused, and alternately, Norway is an example of successfully managing both fish and oil. Perhaps Irish people can learn a little something from both countries. The sea and its vast resources could build and strengthen our economy, and change the lives of many of our coastal communities for the better. For decades this great resource has been ignored and now it is time to pay attention.

 

Atlantic screened on 25th February as part of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival 18 – 28 February) 

 

 

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ADIFF Irish Film Review: Hubert Butler: Witness to the Future

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June Butler takes in Johnny Gogan’s documentary about Irish essayist Hubert Butler: Witness to the Future, which screened at the Audi Dublin International Film Festival.

Born in 1900 to a family that could trace their roots to the Norman invasion of Ireland in 1169, Hubert Butler thrived on the peaceful existence of a life that included a zest for growing apples in his own orchard. Not being without a robust sense of humour, Butler was oft heard describing himself as a writer and market gardener.

His fluency in Russian enabled a translation of Anton Chekov’s The Cherry Orchard (1904), which is still in use to this day. He loved the slow pace in his ancestral home of Maidenhall and was a popular figure in the local village of Bennetsbridge, Co Kilkenny. Despite having travelled extensively throughout the Balkans in his early life and learned multiple languages along the way, Butler’s heart first and foremost, lay in the land where he was born and he maintained the mantra that local history was eminently more important than national history. Indeed, Hubert Butler went so far as to insist that ‘where life is fully and consciously lived in our own neighbourhood, we are cushioned a little from the impact of great far-off events which should be of only marginal concern to us’.

Butler was passionately committed to verbally defending Ireland both within and without from forces that at times threatened the integrity and stability of the nationalist core he strove to protect  – sometimes even at great sacrifice to his own mental and physical wellbeing. On more than one occasion, Butler held forth on matters of great portend to a disbelieving public who aimed derisive criticism at this man of letters when the opposite should have been the case. While he may have appeared mild-mannered, when circumstances dictated, Butler had a firm grasp on the subtly of politics and could deliver stinging rebuttals as his rivals all too humiliatingly became aware.

Ireland was, and remains, deeply indebted to Butler’s unwavering morality and nowhere is it more evident than in Johnny Gogan’s in-depth and soulful film on Butler’s life ‘Hubert Butler; Witness to the Future’. Aided by poet Chris Agee, Gogan ably narrates Butler as an expert essayist and considers him to have been at least fifty years ahead of his time when it came to summarising events of national and international importance.

Gogan claims that Butler was able to predict with unerring accuracy future happenings in the volatile arena of pre and post-war Europe. It is testament to the level of investigation into Butler’s life that his writings are mentioned throughout the documentary with such affection and to such a relentless level of detail. Gogan has literally left no stone unturned.

In my interview with Johnny Gogan, he took into account Butler’s devotion to the country life and in no small way, Gogan has included the orchard at Maidenhall where Hubert Butler spent so many happy hours, almost as an expert witness but equally silent additional cast member. When discussing Butler’s impact on modern history, Gogan said one thing that above all made him feel he was in the presence of greatness – Butler he averred, wore his learning lightly and with humility. The magnitude of knowledge he possessed was vast and yet Hubert Butler was a model of reservation and sincerity – unless his conscience was piqued in which case, Butler’s righteous rebukes were remorseless and acerbic. Gogan goes on to prove his words by stating Hubert Butler travelled to Austria at his own expense in 1938 and rescued Jews who were almost certainly due to be transported to work camps prior to the outbreak of WWII. There are dozens of Jews who could place the claim of survival firmly at the feet of Hubert Butler and his wife Peggy.

People often made the point that Butler’s writings could be compared to those of George Orwell. I would go a stage further and suggest that Butler’s writings were unique and comparable only to one – that of Hubert Butler himself. It is right and fitting that through the remarkable vision of Johnny Gogan, Butler has finally come to our attention for his supreme acts of humanity and recognition as the man of learning he truly was. Generations of Irish will have much to thank Johnny Gogan for this wonderful film.

 

Hubert Butler: Witness to the Future screened on 22nd February 2016 as part of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival 18 – 28 February) 

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ADIFF Irish Film Review: Staid

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Conor Dowling checks out Paul O’Brien’s debut feature Staid, which screened at the Audi Dublin International Film Festival.

 

Before anything else it should be noted that Staid is remarkable simply for existing at all. Made for the almost ludicrous sum of €300, writer and director Paul O’Brien has helmed what is basically a community production, with cast and crew sourced from his hometown of Wexford. At a moment when there seems to be something of a contest in Irish cinema to test how little finance a good film needs, Staid boldly, and largely successfully, undercuts much of the market.

The story deals with Baby (Adrienne Meyler), a middle-aged bar-owner in small-town Ireland struggling against the dreary prospects life seems to have left to offer. Trapped in depression, Baby finds relief in flirting with barman and small-time musician Finn (Paul Creane). Finn dreams of going out into the world and is only held in place by his own feelings for Baby, who seems resolute in going nowhere. Ineptly trying to tie the pair together is the elderly Lar (Phil Lyons), an old soul whose life revolves around his dog and whose would-be wisdom provides much of the film’s comedy. Set mostly on a single day, as Finn prepares to leave, the trio are challenged to make the decisions that could lift them out of the mire.

Lives weighed down by fear, characters who find it easier to sink into old memories than go out to create new ones, are common enough themes to Irish narratives, and as a story of small town paralysis, Staid risks moving into familiar territory. With this in mind, it is to O’Brien’s credit that he finds ways to make this vital. The kitchen-sink realism the story demands is grubby in its precision. Overcooked eggs are poured into the sink, a bottle, picked up as a weapon, drips onto the floor. O’Brien has a keen sense for the real and his detail moves between grit and comedy – a door marked ‘push’, for example, is always pulled.

Set against this dirt, however, is one of the film’s real distinguishing features: its music. Creane is one of several musicians in the cast and O’Brien is bold enough to just allow them to perform when the moment demands. While not a musical, key moments in the story arrive through song rather than dialogue, with these lighter moments throwing the misery of the kitchen sink into greater relief.

For all the music, however, the film’s ace-in-the-hole is Adrienne Meyler. As Baby, Meyler delivers a genuinely nuanced performance. At the same time as she provides the pillar her male friends lean on in difficult moments, she fights to not break down at the prospect of what has become a joyless life. It is Meyler’s inhabiting this space between two extremes that carries the film.

Staid seems to invite comparisons with Gerard Barrett’s Pilgrim Hill, another micro-budget film dealing with life wasting away unnoticed. Like Barrett, O’Brien makes a virtue of his restraints and turns what assets are available – most notably the musicians at his disposal – into the film’s distinguishing qualities.

Music, indeed, is just one part of the optimistic vision that O’Brien brings to what is often very heavy material. Even if it deals with depressed isolation this is, basically, a comic film. Indeed, its most positive quality may be that it exists at all; at the same time that it worries about the deadening effects of rural life, this small-town film proves that there’s energy in those places yet.

 

Staid screened on 27th February 2016 as part of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival (18 – 28 February) 

Irish films at ADIFF

 

 

 

 

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ADIFF Irish Film Review: Further Beyond

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Chris Totzke journeys into Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor’s Reel Art documentary Further Beyond, which screened at the Audi Dublin International Film Festival.

Filmmakers Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor debuted their documentary Further Beyond at the Audi Dublin International Film Festival, the story of Sligo man Ambrose O’Higgins and his treacherous journey from Ireland to the mountainous terrains in Chile in the late 1700s. Molloy and Lawlor’s experimental approach to this documentary was nothing short of original. The movie opens with voice actors Alan Howley and Denise Gough speaking for filmmakers Joe and Christine in what ends up being a humourous approach to narrating such a moving story about one man’s journey to a new unforeseen world across the Atlantic in Chile.

The prologue was very detailed, picking the brains of both filmmakers on where they were setting the scenes, who they were going to cast for Ambrose, and even down to the mistakes in the narrations; which came off as quite humorous. If anything, it almost seemed like the entire film was the prologue to the documentary itself.

Narrated from the filmmakers’ point of view, the film takes in the challenges of its own making, while still incorporating the story of Ambrose and introducing a new character into the proceedings, Joe Lawlor’s mother, Helen. While her story occurred generations after Ambrose’s journey, put together side by side, the similarities in the struggles they encountered were evident.

The documentary sends a powerful message from the eyes of an immigrant adjusting to the cultural changes of the new world and the struggles they face as second class citizens while trying to make something of themselves in their new world. Ambrose, who left his safe haven behind in Ireland to eventually become a captain general in Chile, became an inspiration to many. Helen moving to the Big Apple in the early 20th century in pursuit of the American Dream leaving Ireland behind her. Their stories of immigration and displacement forge a connection between the two.

Beautifully shot, Further Beyond pushes out of traditional narrative opening the audience up to the creative process of planning, filming, and narrating this experimental documentary approach to storytelling – something that was summed up by co-director Joe Molloy in the Q&A that followed the screening. “The story was not the most important thing, it was the form of the film as well, and no more that 50 percent of the experience was the story. We were cooking with different ingredients to see how they would come together.”

 

Further Beyond screened on 22nd February 2016 as part of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival (18 – 28 February) 

 

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On The Reel: Angela Lansbury at ADIFF

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On The Reel were on the red carpet to talk to Angela Lansbury, who was in Dublin to receive a special tribute award at the Audi Dublin International Film Festival.

“It’s a huge delight to welcome Dame Angela Lansbury to Dublin to discuss her life and career on stage and to accept our Festival Tribute Award, the Volta” said Festival Director Gráinne Humphreys. ”A legend whose first films were the classics Gaslight and The Picture of Dorian Gray, from the chilling The Manchurian Candidate to Disney favourites Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Beauty and the Beast and Anastasia, Dame Lansbury has created an indelible impression on world cinema.”

Chris Totzke stepped in to the shoes of Gemma and Lynn for On The Reel and met up with the  legendary star at the Bord Gais Convention Centre.

 

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ADIFF Irish Film Review: Fís na Fuiseoige / The Lark’s View

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Sean Finnan gets the lay of the land at Fís na Fuiseoige, Aodh Ó Coileáin’s documentary which screened at the Audi Dublin International Film Festival.

Something that often gets forgotten about in the constant discussions of the Irish language is the wealth of history that it carries. The educational system and government policies certainly hasn’t helped this in turning the language into something of a bureaucratic necessity, a means of being employable in various civil service jobs, in the educational system and the fact that every legal and bureaucratic document has to be translated into Irish. Not to mention signposts. The language, in this way, has been pushed into a state of stasis where much of its emphasis on its value in the educational system is placed on offering students a means of employment in a field of tedious translation in the depths of meaningless bureaucracy.

Fís na Fuiseoige, the directorial debut by west Kerry man Aodh Ó Coileáin brings to the fore the voluptuousness of the Irish language in both the history it carries, its connection to place and the differing understandings of life that it carries. A far cry from the state supported life support it has been placed upon. Using the ever increasing quality of drone technology, Ó Coileáin offers us a slow contemplative picture of the Irish landscape seldom captured so evocatively before. With such stunning aerial cinematography the timelessness of the Irish landscape is evoked as the camera reflects over places as diverse as the Iveragh Peninsula, the Donegal Gaeltacht, Glendalough amongst others. In each of these various locations, a contributor guides us through the connection of the strong links between the Irish language and place, a connection so strong that in ancient Ireland it even inspired its own literary tradition, ‘dinnseanchas’.

This literary tradition still exists on the fringes of Irish literary life as highlighted by the contributions by the Irish language poets in this documentary, who continue to pursue a knowledge of the land’s relationship with language. In their contributions, the Irish language is associated with a reverence to place itself that pays not only homage to the land but evokes a sense of this land as being timeless, as if its history is ever recurring.

Professor Nuala Ní Dhomhnail’s contribution highlights the different way in which people conceived of themselves as a result of a habitat within a language that, quite literally, gave every surrounding a story and a history based on a tradition.

Such reflections abound in this documentary and offer the viewer another way of understanding the importance of the Irish language that has lost in its bureaucratisation this intimate connection with its surroundings. As Declan Kiberd points out, the loss of the language is something like a forgetting and if the Irish landscape is a manuscript of meaning, we are quickly losing the codes of reading it. In this centenary year, Aodh Ó Coileáin’s beautifully intimate portrait of language and place is a reminder again of the importance of the language in the Gaelic Revival, the cultural rebellion that was the catalyst for the later rebellion. In serving as a pool of traditions that were lost under anglicization, the language was used as a means of re-imagining, of conceiving of a new identity.

Serving as such a reminder, Fís na Fuiseoige is a documentary to be treasured. Few others have made the argument of the importance of the Irish language’s survival in such a subtly celebratory manner while in the process highlighting its absurd vacuous place in Irish official life.

Fís na Fuiseoige screened on 24th February 2016 as part of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival 18 – 28 February) 

Irish films at ADIFF

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ADIFF Irish Film Review: We Are Moving: Memories of Miss Moriarty

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Grace Corry glides through Claire Dix’s portrait of Joan Denise Moriarty, who fought to bring ballet to all corners of Ireland. We Are Moving: Memories of Miss Moriarty screened at the Audi Dublin International Film Festival.

 

There are several culturally expressive art forms unique to Ireland, art forms that tell tales of our past, inspired by everything from mythology to politics, past and present, their methods and disciplines tied to definitive historical tradition. In its aspirations, Irish dancing was one such practise, created and performed by peasants, its style ancient and ritualistic, coveted by the people for centuries.

Ballet, however, had no such gravity in Irish. Ballet, far outside the parameters of a conservatism which dominated the artistic landscape of twentieth century Ireland, communicated a freedom of sexuality, in its inherent celebration of the human body, performed in scenes of love and life which were alien to a young, new State. Not forgetting, it was an art with all the appearance of the ruling class, decadent in its style, movements and gestures, all of which led to a general feeling of hostility upon its introduction, from not only the Irish dancing community but the whole country. The enigmatic subject of Claire Dix’s latest film sought the redefinition of dance in Ireland by bringing a new form of expression, and controversially, by fusing Irish dance and with this strange thing that was ballet.

We Are Moving: Memories of Miss Moriarty tells the story of Joan Denise Moriarty, a radical and prolific figure in the dancing community who sought to revolutionise the Irish dancing tradition that she had been so devoted to. After studying at the Rambert School of Ballet in London, she returned for a holiday to Mallow in Cork, a place she considered home, with her dream of introducing ballet in tow. After a chance meeting with an old friend and sceptic, her dream was prompted into action. “I can’t stand it!” he told her, “Well, what is it? A man chasing a woman around the stage”. From there it was decided. “I remember thinking – I’ll make you eat those words yet. I’m going to one day come back home and I’m going to start a ballet school and a ballet company and you’ll all accept it”. So it began.

What is noted quite early in the film is the economic state of Ireland at the time. WW11 was still in the air, and for the first six months she had not one single student. Undeterred and with curiosity growing in Cork, things were soon underway in a city where there was little to do for idle hands. One by one, young girls and grown men came, her school becoming both a place of learning and a place to escape the realities of unemployment. Revered and feared in equal measure by those she taught, the most important lesson to Miss Moriarty (as she is referred to throughout the film) was teaching the joy of movement, survived by each of the students that shared their memories, and shared some moves. “I’ll die dancing” laughed one eighty two year old friend, twirling around a studio.

Against the odds, Moriarty continued the pursuit of her dream and eventually brought ballet to every corner of Ireland, including the North during times of trouble. The school became the Cork Ballet Company, and with enough members became Cork Ballet Troupe, Moriarty collaborating extensively with Irish composer Aloys Fleischmann and touring the country. This improbability eventually landed the troupe New York with an interpretation of Playboy of the Western World, accompanied by The Chieftains. But this great success, sadly, marked the beginning of the end for Moriarty. On a world stage, her teachings came into question. The Brinson Report, commissioned by the Arts Council in 1985 concluded that her training was not as substantial as she had claimed. After calls for her resignation from the company she had founded, Moriarty reluctantly conceded, falling into a deep depression and all but vanishing from the scene. She died in 1992, having led a life shrouded in mystery, with no evidence of where she really came from, what year she was born, or of any family save her mother, although it is believed she was born illegitimately. Suggested years for her birth have been 1912, 1916 (which her driver’s license says) and 1920 (according to her passport). She never married despite plenty of opportunities, dedicating her whole life to her work, a fragmented lonely life epitomised by her dying will which stipulated that none of her dances ever be performed again, having never properly said goodbye to those who danced them.

Director Claire Dix makes great use of montage in this film, layering music, old show footage and tape recordings of interviews with Moriarty, footed by recollections and dance routines performed by the aged troupe in great humour, brought together by good memories. There is little to no footage of she who taught herself to play the war pipes, an element which serves Dix’s intension of allowing each visual and audio match to “wash over” the spectator, as a memory might. It is a sorry story about an eccentric who gave everything to her craft and to those whom she mentored whose memory has been carefully picked. If you’d like to know more, Ruth Fleischmann, daughter to Aloys, is writing a biography. I would think it’s equally worth checking out.

 

We Are Moving: Memories of Miss Moriarty screened on 22nd February 2016 as part of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival (18 – 28 February)

 

 

 

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Podcast Interview: Risteard O’Domhnaill, director of ‘Atlantic’

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Atlantic is the latest film from the makers of the multi-award-winning documentary, The Pipe (2010). Directed by Risteard O’Domhnaill and edited by Nigel O’Regan, the film follows the fortunes of three small fishing communities – in Ireland, Norway and Newfoundland – which are at turns united and divided by the Atlantic Ocean.

Grace Corry sat down with director Risteard O’Domhnaill ahead of the film’s screening at the Audi Dublin International Film Festival to discuss the mounting challenges the communities face within their own industries.

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Atlantic screens at Cineworld on Thursday, 25th February 2016 at 8:30PM

The 2016 Audi Dublin International Film Festival takes place 18 -28 February 2016. 

Click here for a preview of the Irish films screening at the festival

Click here for the full list of films

 

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ADIFF Review: Anomalisa

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Tom Crowley checks into Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson’s Anomalisa, which screened at the Audi Dublin International Film Festival.

Anomaly- ‘Something that deviates from what is standard, normal or expected’

An anomaly is something that our protagonist Michael Stone (David Thewlis) is desperately searching for in Charlie Kaufman’s fantastic new stop-motion animation. Anomalisa is co-directed by stop-motion expert Duke Johnson and is an existential tale of depression, alienation and mundanity.

Michael Stone is a renowned customer-service specialist who flies to Cincinnati to give a speech at a convention. He stays at the Fregoli Hotel. ‘Fregoli’ does sound like the name of a posh hotel, but it is also a rare monothematic delusion. The Fregoli delusion is a rare disorder in which a person believes that multiple people are in fact the same person in disguise. Michael Stone has a variation of this disorder, and in turn while experiencing the film, so does the audience. Everyone’s voice is the same (voiced by Noonan in monotone) and everyone has the same blank face.

This represents Stone’s severe depression. Nothing excites him, people are boring to him. To talk on the phone to his wife and child is a chore for him. He doesn’t seem to like himself or what he has become. He lights up cigarettes almost ceaselessly to accentuate the pointlessness. During his one-night stay at the hotel he chases the past in desperation which only brings him to realise why it is the past.

Then he suddenly finds his anomaly, Lisa (Jennifer Jason Leigh). Hearing her voice down the hotel corridor he frantically chases her down. Lisa, although quite insecure, is the opposite of Stone. She finds beauty in the small things that life has to offer. She is fascinated by things that Stone finds melancholy. Lisa is a customer service team leader and is instantly infatuated with Stone, a supposed rock star in such a circle. Stone falls in love with her because she is different. He can’t get enough of hearing her voice.

However, for Kaufman, it is clear that this is a tale of depression. Stone’s mental illness becomes readily apparent. This is much to the confusion of Lisa, a breath of fresh air in this deeply existential and at times truly depressing narrative. With these two characters Kaufman endeavours to dissect a fragment of the human condition. When they are together the romance between Stone and Lisa is potent. As individuals, sadly, it could never work.

The humanity within this stop-motion animation is amazing. It is interesting to gauge this aesthetic with our connection to these characters’ unreal human bodies. It reminds one of the audience affiliation with the Operating System Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) in Spike Jonze’s Her (2013). In cinema when the body is taken out of the equation audiences have a different understanding and perception of character. Anomalisa certainly wouldn’t have had the same impact if the characters where played by Thewlis and Leigh in the flesh. To take leave from the real provokes unbiased metaphysical thought.

Anomalisa and Her share the same idea of a lonely man searching for the ideal. Kaufman’s long anticipated follow-up to Synecdoche, New York (2008) has been worth the wait as he continues to fuel self-reflection and existential thought in his audiences.

 

Anomalisa screened on 23rd February 2016 as part of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival (18 – 28 February)

 

 

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ADIFF Irish Film Review: Traders

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Colm Quinn exchanged punches with Traders, which screened at the Audi Dublin International Film Festival.

It’s tempting to call Traders an Irish Fight Club. And it wouldn’t be entirely wrong. But the truth is the stakes are much higher for the members of the trading world than they were for Fight Club’s. You weren’t allowed to talk about Fight Club. You’d be lucky to even get the chance to talk about trading.

And while Fight Club was about the emptiness and lack of fulfilment gained from rampant consumerism, Traders is about when the force behind that consumerism, rampant capitalism, goes wrong.

In the lead role is Love/Hate’s Killian Scott, playing Harry Fox. Supporting him as Vernon Stynes is Game of Thrones’ John Bradley. When their financial company goes bust after losing €13bn, the guys are out of jobs and anyone associated with their former company is considered toxically unemployable. Harry takes a job in data entry for nowhere near the money he needs to cover his mortgage repayments. Vernon, on the other hand, decides to start a business.

Vernon is full of stats, facts and figures including the depressing one that leads him to his new business idea. For every 1% the economy loses there’s a 0.8% increase in suicide.

After failing to get a web design company off the ground he comes up with the much darker idea of trading. Using the deep web, he creates a site where two Traders can connect. They agree to sell all their possessions and convert all money into cash. They then meet in a pub and from there head to a secluded spot where they dig a grave. Once that’s done, they fight to the death and whoever’s left breathing buries the other and goes home with all the cash. Vernon markets trading as better than killing yourself.

The story is tense and gripping and always keeps you guessing. You want to know what will happen in the end. Unfortunately, without spoiling anything, the film descends into farce towards the end. This got laughs from the audience at the Dublin premiere duringc but it wasn’t the best way to end things.

Bradley steals the show in his portrayal of Vernon. Most people know him from Game of Thrones where he plays the pleasant, honourable and ever-loyal Samwell Tarly. He is completely different in Traders. He is a weasel, a snake and bloody brilliant.

Killian Scott, along with starring in the lead role, also narrates. Narration is something that should only be in films if the makers are sure it adds something or that they can’t do without it. In Traders it adds nothing and they could have done without it.

Although it’s a serious film there are some funny parts and in particular, some fantastic one-liners. Another thing the writers and directors Rachel Moriarty and Peter Murphy did very well is pick the right locations. They reflect a depressing time in Irish history but look good and are great places for death fights. Traders go for fights in ghost estates, abandoned buildings and disused quarries. This is a film inspired by the crash and the desperation it caused, and is still causing, in some people even 8 years later.

All in all, Traders is a good film and one which could have broad appeal. Even though this is in English, I really wouldn’t be surprised to see an American remake within a few years.

 

Traders screened on 2oth February 2016 as part of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival (18 – 28 February)

 

 

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Interview: Aodh Ó Coileáin, director of ‘Fís Na Fuiseoige’

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Sean Finnan talks to filmmaker Aodh Ó Coileáin about his documentary, which explores the connection between people and place, as expressed in Irish poetry and local lore.

Fís Na Fuiseoige screens at the Light House Cinema on Wednesday, 24th February 2016 at 6:15PM as part of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival 

 

Where did the idea of the documentary come from?

Well, the company Counterpoint Films was contemplating a film on sense of place. When I became involved, in March 2013, the canvas was extremely wide. We were looking at English language short stories, English language drama, English language poetry, Irish language poetry. After a number of processes we decided to place the focus on the literary tradition on this island, which is poetry through the medium of the Irish language, in that it can be traced right back to the early centuries – the fourth, fifth and sixth centuries; the monks writing poetry in places like Skellig and Glendalough. Of course the tradition is intact right up to the present day, as illustrated in the film, with some of our most brilliant Irish language poets… or just poets full stop. Paddy Bushe, Gearóid Mac Lochlainn, Cathal Ó Searcaigh, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Biddy Jenkinson, Jackie Mac Donncha and Louis de Paor.

At the start of the film you quote lines from the first century AD Irish poet Aimhirgin, who names the place before he steps foot on it. That idea that poets have the power to create a sense of identity with the landscape.

Yes. West Limerick poet Michael Hartnett said that the very act of poetry is a rebel act. And this idea of naming Patrick Kavanagh called the “love act”. There is a strong tradition of naming places in Ireland, like Úirchill an Chreagáin and Sliabh Geal gCua na Féile, and these place names being used in poetry as if to validate a place in the poet’s head.

It reminded me of Yeats and how he uses Irish language place names. These Irish words have a magic around them, whereas the English feels flat. Because of their authenticity they bring something else to his poetry.

I think the very sound of the words were attractive to Yeats. Also, he had a certain appreciation of the history and lore and poetry in itself attached to these place names. They had value in their own right to be included in their Irish form. Louis de Paor mentions in the film that the translation of these places was a translation into gibberish. That Dublin, Cork, Belfast, Tipperary have no meaning. They are Anglicisations of the Irish place name and that the project of the coloniser was to separate the people from the place by calling the place something else.

That runs through the whole documentary, that fracturing, that loss of identity. That it was the biggest act of  dispossession. Even more than the taking of the land physically was the taking of the identification of the land.

That is the central theme in the film. If you take John Montague’s poem A Lost Tradition, he speaks of:

All around, shards of a lost tradition:
From the Rough Field I went to school
In the Glen of the Hazels. Close by
Was the bishopric of the Golden Stone;
The cairn of Carleton’s homesick poem.

He goes on to say, and Professor Declan Kiberd quotes it in the film, that:

The whole landscape a manuscript
We had lost the skill to read,
A part of our past disinherited;
But fumbled, like a blind man,
Along the fingertips of instinct

and if these codes, this ability to read the landscape, was taken from the people then it wouldn’t be so difficult to control the people or to colonise the people.

The film takes on a further significance in the fact that we’re in the centenary of 1916.

When one considers that from 1890 onwards that there was a cultural revolution in the country and that it was people like Patrick Pearse, Thomas McDonagh, Joseph Plunkett and James Connolly, who were all poets. 4 out of 7 of the leaders of the Rising were poets. Much of their project was to retake or re-seize Ireland’s cultural heritage and to promote it. By the end of the day, of course, by 1915 and the following year they realise that they needed an armed uprising as well as a cultural uprising.

This film re-ascertains the Irish people’s connection with the land, the Irish people’s love of the land, and why these men thought it was worth going out and doing what they did… because what they did didn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell.

And today?

The fact that we have put on the screen six very brilliant Irish language poets makes a statement in its own right – what if the field be lost; all is not lost. The tradition continues. While it is small, while maybe few enough people read the poetry in English, and even much fewer in Irish, at least it is there and these people still feel it is still worth writing in Irish.

On that point, I should mention that the support we got from TG4 and the BAI shows that there are still idealistic people around who believe in films like this because they are intrinsically good and are therefore worth making. That, in its own right, 100 years after the Rising, is evidence that the importance of the cultural is still very much alive in Ireland. 

Fís Na Fuiseoige screens at the Light House Cinema on Wednesday, 24th February 2016 at 6:15PM 

The 2016 Audi Dublin International Film Festival takes place 18th and 28th February 2016. 

 

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Interview: Johnny Gogan, director of ‘Hubert Butler: Witness To The Future’

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Johnny Gogan’s new documentary Hubert Butler: Witness To The Future, traces Kilkenny essayist Hubert Butler’s journey through Stalinist Russia of the early 1930s, through pre­war Vienna, where he worked to smuggle Jews into Ireland, to his exposure of the hidden genocide of half a million Orthodox Serbs in World War2.

Using recently declassified documents, Gogan’s highly visual and expansive film explores why Butler “was fifty years ahead of his time” and “one of the great Irish writers”

Johnny Gogan told June Butler how the project came about.

 

I heard about Hubert Butler around the time he had been published in the late 1980s. I hadn’t read him. Three years ago I was in Belgrade and I attended a lecture by the poet and publisher Chris Agee. He was talking about Hubert’s writings on Archbishop Stepinac, the wartime Croatian Catholic Archbishop in Zagreb. Hubert wrote a lot about this period and about Stepinac as a central character – and he actually met Stepinac when he was subsequently imprisoned for treason and collaboration with the Ustaše regime. I was talking to Chris about this and a few lights started to go off my head.

Butler was very interested in the local world, the power of the local, and very much wary of that centralised phenomenon that you get in the western world and in big cities.  I myself have been based in North Leitrim for the last 20 years, so I kind of understood that aspect of his work. I had also touched on that in my film Mapmaker back in 2001, which is about the tensions in a border community in the years after the ceasefires. That was quite influenced by what had happened in the Balkans in the ’90s.

Hubert Butler had in many ways predicted what happened in the Balkans in the 1990s and saw the roots of its violence and the intensity of the violence in what happened in Croatia in the Second World War. You can see it for example in his essay ‘The Artukovitch File’ and in an unpublished essay I found called ‘The Trial’ – he talks about seeing how the seeds of future treason lay in what had happened in the Second World War, particularly in Croatia – and how that had been, in many ways, swept under the carpet.

He wrote exhaustively and very skilfully about that period. He was in the extraordinary position where he came in for criticism from both sides. Butler was obviously really critical of the Catholic Church’s role in the genocide of half a million Orthodox Serbs in Croatia during the Second World War. But he was also critical of Tito and the way the Communists were dealing with the aftermath of that. They didn’t deal with the guilt and the responsibility, the way that Germany had been confronted with it. So he writes that in 1946 I see the seeds of future treason in the way these crimes are being tried and dealt with.

And then in Ireland he’s also being criticized. He confronts Ireland at the time with what has happened in Croatia and nobody wants to hear. The State and the Church conspired to silence him. And then you have Peadar O’Donnell, one of Ireland’s foremost radicals, telling him to go easy on the Communists. Butler was a very brave, very moral, very informed man.

What I love about Butler, and what I’ve always felt strongly about, is that Ireland should have a much wider international vision for itself beyond obviously a relationship with Britain and the way we have subsumed our international vision into the EU. We hide behind the EU a lot. Butler was saying that Ireland has a role to play as a new nation, as a postcolonial nation, able to put forward a different view of the world and that was potentially shared by many other countries that got their independence and liberation around the same time. That is still very relevant. That vision he developed in the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s is still very true and the kind of provincialism that Ireland was slipping  into at that time is still very true – obviously with some exceptions… but we like to think of ourselves as very cosmopolitan. But actually we are quite provincial and quite derivative in our thinking. This is why from an Irish perspective I wanted to make this film. I also found that I hadn’t read a lot or seen a lot about what he was writing about. There are sensations you have yourself but then you see someone articulate them and you just think wow.

 

Hubert Butler: Witness To The Future screens at the Light House Cinema on Monday, 22nd February 2016 at 8:30PM 

 

 

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The 2016 Audi Dublin International Film Festival takes place 18th and 28th February 2016. 

 

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ADIFF Review: Mustang

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Tom Crowley checked out Mustang, which screened at the Audi Dublin International Film Festival.

 

‘She will not laugh in public. She will not be inviting in her attitudes and will protect her chasteness’, a comment made by the former Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey during a speech on ‘moral corruption’ in 2014. When watching this Turkish coming-of-age drama one gets the feeling that it is an artistic rebellion against these misogynistic views. Mustang begins like so many Americanised coming-of-age dramas, on the last day of school. Six sisters, ages ranging from early to late teens, celebrate their freedom by diving into the ocean (fully clothed) with boys of similar age.

This innocent expression of budding sexuality is witnessed by a busy-body and soon becomes a scandal in the small Turkish village. The act sees the sisters held prisoner in their own home. An allegory for female sexual oppression in modern-day Turkey is readily apparent. The more the sisters rebel the more extreme the exclusion from society by their Grandmother (Koldas) and Uncle (Pekcan) becomes. Their vibrancy is slowly chipped away. Stripped of their individuality they are made to wear plain ‘shit coloured’ clothes.

Mustang points at the generation gap between the female villagers. The young, wild and free is juxtaposed with middle-aged women conditioned by a misogynist society. The film is seen very much through the eyes of the youngest sister Lale (Sensoy). She is the most rebellious. Her innocence and ungovernable nature sets her free from conservative views. However, she slowly sees her older sisters get swallowed up by their culture and the system of arranged marriages. We witness her trying to get her head around all of it, which makes the action even more poignant.

There is a brilliant sequence of liberation when the sisters escape to Istanbul to watch a soccer game in an all-female crowd. Men have been banned from the stadium on account of hooliganism. The sequence of joy and excitement is reminiscent of Jafar Panahi’s Offside (2006) about female oppression in modern day Iran. Offside, like all of Panahi’s films is banned in Iran. Mustang is edited by Panahi. The sister’s night-out comes at a price as their home quickly transforms into something more resembling a prison.

This has all the hallmarks of a passion project for first time director Erguven. Cinematographers Rami Agami and Mahmound Kalari lovingly shoot the sisters, evoking a heart-warming togetherness. Their bodies are usually basking in the Turkish sunlight, angels and nymphets. Comparisons can be made with Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides (1999), both aesthetically and thematically. Coppola framed her sisters in the same way. The Virgin Suicides was a condemnation of conservative views and the repression of young women in society. Like The Virgin Suicides, Mustang captures the farce of male hysteria surrounding female sexual awakening.

Mustang is far from perfect. The dialogue in the film can be heavy-handed where subtly should be key. Erguven at times resorts to trying to spoon feed us. The film’s antagonists could also be developed to create a further sense of realism surrounding the story.

However, Mustang is thematically and politically relevant. World cinema has an exciting new female voice.

 

Mustang screened on 19th February 2016 as part of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival 18 -28 February) 

 

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