Dingle Film Festival
18–21 March 2010
This year’s Dingle Film Festival wasn’t the only show in town paying homage to the movies. The festival enjoyed the unique position of having the camera turned on it for the filming of Geoff Wonfor’s documentary We’ll Always Have Dingle. There aren’t too many film festivals where you’ll stumble upon Ice Cold in Alex being recreated for a film crew in the local pub, but this is Dingle.
Festival organisers piled the pressure on themselves this year by moving their usual slot in September back six months to March. Whilst this must have seemed an impossibly tight timeframe to confirm special guests and secure prints, the move paid off with an impressive line-up by any international standards, and one that included six Irish film titles.
Cillian Murphy opened the festival for the screening of his latest film Perrier’s Bounty, and was joined by Stephen Frears who also made the trip from London to receive the Gregory Peck Award for Excellence in the Art of Film. Frears entertained a capacity crowd at Dingle’s Phoenix Cinema in his customary understated manner and told of his friendship with Peck, which started when the actor called him after seeing The Snapper.
Director and producer Geoff Wonfor (The Beatles Anthology) attended the festival last year and loved it so much he returned this year to make a documentary. The device of recreating classic movie scenes was used as a tribute to Dingle’s link with films like A Quiet Man, Ryan’s Daughter and Far and Away. His title comes from Humphrey Bogart’s line in Casablanca: ‘We’ll always have Paris,’ and Wonfor intends to submit it to the Sundance Film Festival.
An impressive achievement by festival director Maurice Galway, in conjunction with Brian Nolan of FÁS TV & Production Unit, was securing the first gathering of RED camera users in Ireland. In addition to a seminar on the pioneering technology, Galway organised the modification of Dingle’s Phoenix cinema to show Conor Horgan’s One Hundred Mornings shot on RED. Scaffolding was installed in the cinema to accommodate the 4k projector required to display RED’s superior picture resolution (4000 pixels per inch).
A panel discussion on the future of film in Ireland included Teresa McGrane from the Irish Film Board, Kevin Moriarty from Ardmore Studios, film producer Ed Guiney and director Paddy Breathnach, who also gave a Q&A after a retrospective showing of I Went Down. A nod to the gangster genre connected showings of A Prophet, Perrier’s Bounty, I Went Down, Public Enemy and Bugsy Malone – where the audience came dressed up as spivs and molls. Documentaries Houston, We Have a Problem and Crude both looked at the oil industry, whilst Mugabe and the White African documented the plight of white farmers in Zimbabwe. Otto Schlindwein’s Descendants explored the tradition of unaccompanied song in Ireland followed by live performances from Éilis Ni Chinnéide and Rosie Stewart. Other Irish films included Margaret Corkery’s black comedy Eamon and Conor McDermottroe’s look at a broken childhood in Swansong: Story of Occi Byrne. BBC director and producer (and regular DFF attendee) Anthony Wall introduced his documentary on the life of Harold Pinter, and considerable time and effort went into getting Andrew Zuckerman’s documentary Wisdom shown at the festival with the accompanying photographic exhibition exhibited at Siamsa Tíre gallery in Tralee. The festival closed with a nice tribute to Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon, breaking a twenty-year gap since the film was last screened in Ireland.
Memorable moments during this wonderfully unpretentious film festival include Beatles fan Cillian Murphy listening intently to Geoff Wonfor’s tales of the fab four, Mary Coughlan giving an impromptu bar performance of Joy Division’s ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’, and the uninitiated staring in bewilderment at festival goers and organisers re-enacting scenes from Titanic, Casablanca, A Street Car Named Desire and Some Like it Hot for Wonfor’s documentary.
Dingle Film Festival is fast developing itself as a new space for people who love film and an important platform those who work in the industry. This and Wonfor’s unique documentary are surely a sign that Dingle Film Festival is an emerging contender with class.
Rebecca Kemp, 2010