WFT Short Film Showcase

 

To celebrate International Women’s Day, WFT Ireland, is partnering with the IFI, to host an annual Short Film Showcase. This special screening of WFT Ireland members’ work will take place on Wednesday, 6th March 2019 at 6:30pm.

The films that will screen on the evening include:

Ma (dir. Anne Marie Kelly, 9 mins);

The Girl at the End of the Garden (dir. Bonnie Dempsey, 15 mins);

No Place (dir. Laura Kavanagh, 7 mins);

Catcalls (dir. Kate Dolan, 9 mins);

The Shift (dir. Megan K. Fox, 12 mins);

Siobhan (dir. Maeve Murphy, 10 mins);

Her Name Is… (dir. Lydia McGuinness, 10 mins);

Sea for Yourself (dir. Gráinne Gavigan, 8 mins).

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Kenneth Branagh @ IFI

 

The Irish Film Institute has announced that acclaimed director Kenneth Branagh will visit the IFI on Friday, February 8th to take part in a Q&A following the 18.10 screening of his new film, All Is True. The five-time Oscar nominee will speak with Donald Clarke of The Irish Times.

All Is True explores the human story behind a dark and little known period in the life of William Shakespeare (Kenneth Branagh). The year is 1613 and Shakespeare is the greatest writer of the age. When his beloved Globe Theatre is burned to the ground, he decides to return to his home town of Stratford-upon-Avon. There, he faces his neglected family. Still haunted by the death of his only son, Hamnet, he struggles to mend broken relationships with his wife, Anne (Judi Dench) and daughters. In so doing he is forced to examine his own failings as an absent husband and father. In the search for peace, he must also finally confront the dark heart of his family’s secrets and lies.

Based on an incisive script by Ben Elton, Branagh’s film is a melancholic, restrained portrait of the Bard’s final years.

Tickets, costing €14, are now available at www.ifi.ie or from the IFI Box Office on 01-6793477.

 

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Paul Bushe & Brian O’Neill, Directors of ‘Killers Within’

Horror fans might be forgiven for thinking they are at the wrong screening when they settle in to watch Killers Within at this year’s IFI annual film celebration of all things horror. Brian O’Neill and Paul Bushe’s feature bursts onto the screen with a gritty opening that seemingly provides the set-up for a crime thriller. A mother is violently attacked and her son taken away from her by a criminal gang. From here the films takes another turn into home invasion territory, as getting him back involves a group of friends and family plotting a tiger kidnapping. Their plan is to get their hands on enough cash to pay for the son’s release. Just when the audience settle in, there’s a seismic shift; things go somewhat haywire as we enter a world of mythological monsters and here is where the horror really kicks in, applied liberally with a double dose of action. It’s not your typical horror and to say much more would take away from the delirious fun that ensues.

Paul explains to Film Ireland that Killers Within is a genre-bashing film. “We initially set out to make a pure horror and it evolved and evolved again as we wrote and rewrote it. It became more thriller and then more action, with touches of sci-fi in there. Then we introduce a different type of villain that is not as prevalent in horror films.”

The bulk of the film takes place in Springfield Castle, Limerick, the home of a wealthy banker and his la-di-da family, who are set upon by Amanda Doyle, together with her ex-husband and three unlikely allies. The cast and crew lived in the Castle for the 10 days of the initial shoot. Brian says, “It was like Evil Dead stuff – where we live; where we shoot. We had a very bizarre existence there. There was no phone signal in the castle and you had to walk around 500 metres down the driveway to get a phone signal. In a way, it was like we were in an alternative reality living in this castle.” In this particular alternative reality, the band of ragtag amateur kidnappers and uppercrust elite family come together with catastrophic results as opposites clash, worlds collide and divides are crossed.

Leading the way is Sue Walsh, who plays Amanda, the Mother of the captive son. Her journey as a character is the stand-out role in the film, from victim to empowerment; she certainly is no damsel in distress, blazing her way through the film with a nutribullet blend of maternal love, unyielding determination and a ready-for-battle steely grit. “She was someone we hadn’t worked with before,” Paul says. “We didn’t know her at all. We did a big casting job and met some really extraordinary actors. It was such a hard thing to cast that lead female role because there’s so many things she has to embody more than anybody else in the film.” Brian explains how “as the protagonist, there was a lot of elements we wanted to hit. And Sue totally pulls that off.”

That’s the good, but what about the bad and the ugly? The monsters that comes to life are certainly impressive creatures but this element wasn’t all plain sailing according to Brian. “Creating the monsters for the film provided one of the biggest challenges. We ended up re-shooting a lot of scenes. We hadn’t anticipated how long it would take. By the time we got actors on set and even though the make-up was great, everyone was just fatigued and they were shot really badly. That’s on us.” Paul adds,”It’s that logistical thing. First time doing a feature like that. Brian had done How to be Happy and myself and Brian had made loads of shorts together and proofs of concept  – but just this kind of animal of a film, with prosthetics, stunts, then it’s raining and finally we had trouble with lighting and logistics on the night. So when we got to the edit, we knew we needed to go back and redo scenes. Thankfully the producer said yes, which was great. We had the opportunity to really rethink how we did it. Really liaise better with our stunt team. Think about make-up more. Just pure logistics really. Like how can we get a stunt actor into the scene? How can we get this done in 20 minutes rather than 8 hours.”

Talking to Paul and Brian it’s obvious they are passionate about film and how horror affords them to a chance to mix it up. Paul speaks about it as being a genre “with the most subgenres… Everything mixes with it and people accept that. They’ll take comedy in their horror, romance, action, whatever it is people will take it with horror.  That’s why Horror is such a broad topic. A lot of the films we like, like Dog Soldiers, From Dusk till Dawn,  they’re all genre-blending horror films. I love my pure horror as well but I love those blending of things. That’s what this film is – taking all these things we love, or are interested in, or find curious and sticking them all in one film together. And horror lets you do that.”

For an Irish horror, Killers Within could be a story told anywhere. “We didn’t want the film to be typical Irish film but there is some Irish in there, particularly in the dialogue,” Brian says. “But yes, the film could be set anywhere in the world. That was important for us making a genre film, not to be too colloquial. Paul goes on, “that’s part of how we write in general. Our influences are international and we write the story we want to see. It’s not specific to a location. This could be in the London, the Hamptons. It could be anywhere. It just happens just happens to be set in Ireland. If you look at English break-out films like Shaun of the Dead, yes they’re set in London or where ever but again that story is universal. The themes are universal.The characters are universal. The monsters are universal. That’s what we wanted to do here.”

If there was ever a PSA against tiger kidnappings, this would be it. Avoid those monsters, buy a lottery ticket, and join us in the IFI for a horrorful bank holiday screaming… I mean screening.

 

Killers Within screens Sunday, 28th October 2018 at 23.10 at the IFI as part of Horrorthon 2018 (25-29 October)

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Aislinn Clarke, Director of ‘The Devil’s Doorway’

 

In the autumn of 1960, Father Thomas Riley and Father John Thornton were sent by the Vatican to investigate a miraculous event in an Irish home for “fallen women”, They uncovered something much more horrific however, as their attention turned to a 16-year-old pregnant girl exhibiting signs of demonic possession.

Ahead of its screening at this year’s IFI Horrorthon, David Prendeville spoke to director Aislinn Clarke about her debut feature, The Devil’s Doorway.

 

How did the idea come about to make a film set in the Magdalene laundries and then how did it come about that it would be a found footage film?

In the initial stage the producer came to me. There was no script or anything at that point. He had an idea and he gave me a page-long pitch which was to do a modern-day horror partly set in an abandoned Magdalene laundry and shot on mostly GoPro so it would have been more like something like Grave Encounters. My feeling was that I didn’t think that was the film that I wanted to make but I felt there was something interesting to be done with the Magdalene laundries. I thought if you’re going to do a film about the Magdalene laundries you should go back to the ’60s, when there was the most people there and get into the heart of the human drama of those places rather than having the girls as spectres now as a kind of afterthought. I think all good horror has in its heart real human drama. I think it shouldn’t come afterwards, it should be the primary concern. If you look at something like Hereditary, it started out like a family drama and then came in the horror elements, not the other way around so I felt that would be the strongest way to do it. I’m a big horror fan, I watch everything. I know how much found footage there is out there and I know how much of it is really bad. Some of it is really good but even the really good stuff gets lost because there’s so much of it and so much of it so similar. I felt if you’re going to do one it needs to feel totally different. It needs to be bringing something new to that subgenre. So I thought you do something that found footage films don’t normally do, which is make it about something. It’s not just about how scary it is. I enjoy films like those too, I enjoyed Grave Encounters, Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity. I enjoyed those films but I felt this needed to be about something and I felt it was very obvious what it needs to be about. Then if we set it in the 1960s then we have to shoot on 16mm film because that’s how they would’ve done it.

 

How difficult was it to convince people that it needed to be shot on 16mm?

Really hard. Myself and the DoP Ryan Kernaghan had both shot on film previously together and separately so we’re both pretty used to that process. We shot some test stuff on different formats to illustrate how aesthetically different they were. To illustrate how much a film filter doesn’t trick you into feeling like its real film and if you’re selling something as found footage it needs to feel like an authentic document. You can’t just put a filter on top because they’re repetitive. They’re not organic. Subconsciously you can tell it doesn’t feel right. It will have repetitive flaws that would never happen on real film so we were able to convince them that this has such a nice aesthetic that was separate to everything else that we should do that. The concession we had in the end was that we would shoot anything that needed VFX digitally and match it up in the grade. That was in case there might be flaws on the film that would prevent us doing the VFX or that certainly would’ve made it harder and much more expensive to do. So that’s what we did. Ryan also got a good deal. He got a bunch of stock somewhere, really cheap. Some of the stock we used was expired. We used that for stuff we knew we didn’t need for the story but that was nice scene setting stuff. Some of it made into the finished film and it actually looks really good.

 

Did you feel as director that working within the found footage genre allowed in some ways for more creativity in how you approached certain scenes? I’m thinking of the birthing scene in particular here. It really stands out as being very powerful in the way that it utilises the found footage element to render the scene differently to the way it would be in other films.

It’s funny because it’s simultaneously limiting and freeing to have the constraints of found footage. You’ve only got a single camera so you can’t do things like get coverage for a scene. For the birthing scene in particular that suited me because I always knew how I wanted to do that scene. I always wanted it to be just her face. I was thinking of Dreyer’s Joan of Arc or Godard’s Vivre sa Vie. I was thinking also that there’s a tendency in modern films to show too much and there’s a weirdly prosaic effect. People are so used to being shown everything when it comes to gore and violence and all the rest that it has no effect. It just kind of washes over. But there’s something very uncomfortable about just watching a human face for an extended period of time. Also, what you do in your mind is going to be a lot more powerful than what you are seeing. There were conversations about coverage but I was adamant that that was how I wanted to shoot it. It also wouldn’t make sense within the story for it to be shot as if the priests were shooting it, as neither of them would do that. Neither of them could be in this room while that’s happening. This was the best way to do it. It’s my favourite scene in the film and I had to fight for it. I think it works. So yes, in a way found footage does have that thing that there are constraints but that the constraints are weirdly freeing. We also have conversations that are like monologues to camera with Father Thomas in particular. If that was shot in a more conventional way you would have reverses and show the other character and that takes a lot longer to film so that helped us film more quickly, as well as having done a lot of rehearsals before stepping on set. I think there’s a lot to be said for just a still camera. People move around a lot these days and there’s a lot of frenetic editing that’s fashionable. I like to just let a performance happen.

 

I understand you had three locations for the film? I also heard that the roof fell down in one of them the day after filming?

(Laughs) Yeah, that’s right. So the location we used for the church was actually the dining hall in a lovely mansion house in Belfast, formerly belonging to Lord Craigavon. Nobody had lived in it since the ’30s though it had been used as a hospital during the war. The day after we left the roof fell in. The house was kind of falling apart anyway. But it was kind of strange, if you wanted to read into things. People ask me about ghosts but I don’t really believe in ghosts. I wish I did, I think it’s a lot fun but I don’t. I think there was something else about one of the insurance documents had 666 engraved in it or something like that. There were theories flying around about a curse but, touch wood, I don’t think so.

 

The film has excellent performances in it as well. Could you tell me a bit about the casting process?

We auditioned everybody, particularly because the two executive producers were in LA. They wanted to see tapes. Helena, who plays the Mother Superior, I already knew and had my eye on. My husband and I both work in the theatre and he had worked with Helena there. I’d seen her in a few things. I had my eye on her but we did audition other people as well. Ciaran, who plays Father John, again I had my eye on him from theatre. We auditioned very widely. In the first round the producers were unsure about him but I knew he was right for the role. I think his first audition was a self-tape because he was in London or somewhere at the time. When I finally got him to come into the room with me, he nailed it. Then Lalor fell slightly outside of the age group that the casting director, Carla Strong, had for the role. Just you know you pick an age range and he happened to be slightly out of it. So he wasn’t in the first net we hauled in. But he heard about the project from a friend of his. He got in touch with me saying he’d really like to audition for this. It just struck something. So he came on down to my office. Again we had seen loads of people for that role and nobody was quite right. We had seen loads of people that were really good but not quite right. Lalor came down and just knocked it out of the park instantly. He was brilliant. Then in relation to Lauren who plays Kathleen, we had a different actor cast originally but due to scheduling problems she had to drop out during the shoot. We were literally already shooting when Lauren came down to audition. She auditioned on the set and that’s how she got the role. We shot the whole thing in 16 days and shot Lauren’s stuff in the second week.

Are there any films that particularly influenced you for the project?

Yeah that’s an interesting one. People assume that I’d be looking at stuff like The Blair Witch Project for something like this because it’s found footage but actually that’s not how I approach films anyway. Then you’re just repeating yourself or repeating somebody else. This is not really like that. It’s found footage but it’s no more like it than any other genre film. I was really thinking about the time, the mode of shooting, those sort of things so I was looking at a lot of documentaries from the early ’60s. In particular I was looking at The Maysles Brothers, cinema verite documentaries, stuff like Salesman because even the way you handle the camera, all of that, is going to effect the aesthetic of a film like this and it’s going to be totally different to how they handle the camera in Blair Witch. Its different equipment and of course they have the audio equipment too. Father John in the film doesn’t know he’s making a found-footage horror film, he thinks he’s making a documentary so that was the style I was trying to emulate.

 

What do you plan for your next film?

I have a couple of things in the works so, with different producers, so it’s just about seeing what comes together first in terms of financing. I’m working on a film with Fantastic Films so we’ll see where that goes. It’s in the horror genre again, I tend to gravitate toward horror or if it’s not horror, thriller or something dark. I’m attached also to direct a story that I haven’t written that’s a Bloody Mary origin story. I also have a folk-horror in development with a producer in London.

The Devils Doorway screens Friday, 26th October 2018 at 18.20 at the IFI as part of Horrorthon 2018 (25-29 October) 

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EUNIC’s Short Shorts @ IFI

Ten stories, three locations: Short Shorts brings international short films to the IFI

Event details: Monday 5 November, 6.30pm, IFI (free)

After screening at Galway Film Fleadh on 11 July, EUNIC’s Short Shorts from Europe Film Festival will make its second stop on 5 November at the Irish Film Institute (IFI). Seven from this collection of ten short films will compete for an audience award and each of EUNIC’s film festival partners will screen a nominated short.

Admission is free but booking is required @ bookings.dublin@cervantes.es.

Having been awarded the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 label, Short Shorts brings to the public some of the best European short films across many diverse genres such as animation, drama and documentary. Through its selection, EUNIC Ireland showcases a variety of stories such as memories from the start of a love affair, the all too realness of photos, a humorous look at austerity in cities, and that familiar urban legend of the disappearance of socks.

The short films competing for an audience vote are:

  • Pix by Sophie Linnenbaum (supported by the Goethe-Institut)
  • Clanker Man by Ben Steiner & Dan Nixon (supported by the British Council)
  • La primera vez que te vi by Guillermo Tirado & Daniel Tirado (supported by Instituto Cervantes Dublin / AECID)
  • Made in France by Maxime Guerry, Brice Dublé, Lamia Akhbbarn, Robin Cioffi, Stanislas Gruenais & Alexia Portal (supported by the Alliance Française / The French Embassy)
  • Time Traveller by Steve Kenny (supported by Culture Ireland)
  • Abgestempelt (Punched) by Michael Rittmannsberger (supported by the Austrian Embassy)
  • Here Cometh The Moon by Giulia di Battista & Gloria Kurnik (supported by Istituto Italiano di Cultura).

Short Shorts also brings three films out of competition to the IFI:

  • My Mother Is My Priest by Linda Bhreathnach (supported by the Galway Film Fleadh)
  • The Wedding Speech by Joe McStravick (supported by the Cork Film Festival)
  • Páistí Ag Obair by Louis Marcus (supported by the Irish Film Institute).

EUNIC’s Short Shorts from Europe Film Festival will next screen at the Cork Film Festival on 12 November.

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Review of Irish Film @ Galway Film Fleadh: IFI Local Films for Local People: Yet More Glimpses of Galway

 

Deirdre de Grae steps back in time at IFI Local Films for Local People: Yet More Glimpses of Galway, which screened at the 29th Galway Film Fleadh.

 

This unique cine-concert event was a curated by the Irish Film Institute (IFI) in collaboration with the National Museum of Ireland (NMI). IFI archivist, Sunniva O’Flynn, and NMI curator, Clodagh Doyle introduced their selection of short films with a wealth of in-depth knowledge, and were generous with the enlightening background information on each film.

This screening was a musical treat, as the silent films were accompanied by live fiddle player, Deirdre Ní Chonghaile. Deirdre is from the Aran islands, and carefully paired each traditional tune with the archive films, so that the music was relevant to the film’s content, time and place. The production of this archive presentation was thoughtful, well researched and a culturally enriching experience. The screening was a part of the IFI ‘Local Films for Local People’ – a nationwide tour of IFI archive films, shown in the regions where they were made. More details here:

The IFI archive films screened included: ‘The Electrification of Conamara’ (Colm Ó Laoighre, Gael Linn); ‘The All Ireland Championship Football Final’ (NFI); ‘Galway Bay Aircrash‘ (Movietone newsreel); and ‘The New Matchmakers‘ (Radharc). The silent films, curated by the NMI, included: depictions of agricultural life in rural Co. Galway; documentary footage of the Aran islands; and some ‘home movies’ of summer holidays in Co. Galway.

‘The Electrification of Conamara’ is a short newsreel piece, which was part of the Amharc Eireann series, directed and produced by Colm Ó Laoghaire for Gael Linn. This piece is in the Irish language and was shown in the Galway Film Fleadh without subtitles. The short film shows the introduction of electricity to rural Conamara, and was originally screened in cinemas around Ireland before feature films, in the 1960s.  These Gael Linn films are culturally significant and are currently archived in the IFI, with some available to view on the IFI player.  Colm Ó Laoghaire produced over two hundred and sixty editions of Amharc Eireann. The topics he covered were ‘Irish interest’ magazine and news stories – their preservation at the IFI provide a window into contemporary Irish life during the Whittaker and Lemass eras. A comprehensive history of the series by Dr. Mairead Pratschke, ‘A Look at Irish-Ireland: Gael Linn’s Amharc Eireann Films, 1956-64‘, is available to read and was used in the research for this article.

Amharc Eireann presented the Irish landscape, (focussing on historical and geographical sites) as the ‘locus of national identity and the repository of national culture’ (Pratschke). The eagráin or ‘issues’ (the producers referred to each series episode as an ‘eagrán’ (issue)-usually used for magazines) were presented as history lessons, which could be doubled up as promotional tools for heritage tourism. The key difference between these films and Bord Failte’s are the target demographic: Amharc Eireann promoted Ireland and its culture to the Irish people, rather than the international market.

This series by Gael Linn was a significant milestone in Irish filmmaking, and moreso Irish language filmmaking, as it was the first regular indigenous cinema newsreel since the ‘Irish Events’ series of the 1920s. Prior to Amharc Eireann, there had never been an Irish-language documentary or news-film series of any kind made or shown in Irish cinemas. Irish cinema audiences were shown only foreign productions on screen. Even the newsreels that preceded the main features were limited to those distributed by the British company, Rank Film Distributors. Rank began to include the Amharc Eireann films, for no fee, whereas the Irish film distributors contacted all required a fee – Gael Linn had a restricted budget and so went with the British distributor. By 1959, television had come to Britain and, shortly after, Rank withdrew its newsreels from Irish cinemas, which resulted in more Irish cinema screentime for Gael Linn. In 1959, the home-grown newsreel was produced weekly and expanded to include four separate news stories. The series continued until 1964 when television as a means of relaying news to the Irish population rendered the newsreel obsolete.

Copyright Radharc Trust 2010

‘The New Matchmakers’ (Radharc)

This documentary from the Catholic priest-led ‘Radharc’ production company, is a trove of hilarious moments that would fuel another season of Father Ted scripts. Although made relatively recently (1960s), the changes in Irish culture have been so vast, that it seems to be from another era. The focus of this documentary was ‘The Cupid of the West’- a matchmaking priest who set out to educate the young men of rural Ireland in the means of finding a wife. He tackled the issue in a direct manner, organising classes on ‘how to shave’ and ‘how to go on a date’, taught by a lady to a classroom of young  farming men. He also conducted hands-on, practical tutorials, in which he demonstrated correct dancing techniques to equip the young people to find a match at the local dances. These scenes caused peals of laughter from the audience in Town Hall Theatre, as well as awkward giggles from the young subjects on screen.

This concept in itself is hilarious to the current viewer, but was based in a genuine concern about the economic effects of depopulation of the rural west of Ireland, specifically the depopulation of young women. The film addressed this topic in a segment titled: “Where are all the young girls gone?”, in which we see happy, carefree, independent women working in Dublin – most reluctant to return to the country life they left behind. Meanwhile, in the west of Ireland, we are introduced to ‘poor Jimmy’, who lives alone and is too lazy to cook for himself (he farms potatoes but doesn’t have the wherewithal to cook them, so subsists on ‘smash’), with no woman to rescue him from his own incompetence.

Founded in 1959, Radharc is considered one of Ireland’s most important independent documentary production companies. The team made over 400 documentaries which were screened on RTÉ, Ireland’s national broadcaster, between 1961 and 1996. The Radharc cameras shone a light onto a changing Ireland and recorded values, rural and urban traditions that no longer exist. Unfortunately ‘The New Matchmakers’ is not available to view on the IFI player, but other Radharc programmes are

Further archive films can be watched on the IFI player, for free, here

Be warned, you may lose hours here!

 

‘IFI Local Films for Local People: Yet More Glimpses of Galway’ screened on Wednesday, 12th July 2017, as part of the 29th Galway Film Fleadh (11 – 16 July).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Review: Straight Time (1978)

Tom Crowley checks out Ulu Grosbard’s 1978 film Straight Time, which recently screened at the IFI as part of its Dustin Hoffman Retrospective.

We begin Straight Time (1978) with our anti-hero Max Dembo (Hoffman) leaving prison after a six-year stint for armed robbery. Director Ulu Grosbard tricks us. He gives us a shot of a woman and her kids. We assume they are there to see our protagonist come home. They are not there for him. Max jumps in the back of a pick-up truck and hitches a lift to central Los Angeles. Max is alone, make no mistake about it. He visits the house of an old friend Willy (Busey). He is told by Willy’s wife (Bates) he is not welcome, he is a bad influence.

A career criminal Max is determined to go straight. In the space of a week he gets a job, finds a room to sleep in and even begins courting his recruitment agent Jenny (Russell). Max, however, never feels particularly comfortable in his environment. Over dinner with Jenny he explains that many inmates find it scarier on the outside; one gets the feeling that he is indirectly talking about himself. Despite this, Max gets on with it, Jenny the dominating motivator for him to live the straight life.

A serious obstacle to this is his passive aggressive parole officer Earl (Walsh). It is not easy to determine whether Earl is purposely being a menace or if he is just plain ignorant. Either way he is a thorn in the side of an already edgy Max. Max comes home one night to see his bedroom door open. Earl is nosing around his digs. He finds matches and automatically assumes Max is ‘fixing’. He sends him back to the county jail while he awaits results of a drug test.

This is the final straw for Max. He goes on the run with the support of Jenny. The plan is to rob enough money to leave L.A. for greener pastures. Once Max re-accepts his criminality we see Dustin Hoffman’s performance become far more external. The shifty and uneasy straight Max becomes far more purposeful when he embraces his identity as a criminal. First incarcerated as a juvenile, it is the only life he knows.

Max is connected. He runs in criminal circles, his only friends are criminals or ex-criminals. For better or worse this is who Max is. One of the ex-criminal’s is Jerry (Stanton). Max convinces him to go on a spree with him. Not that he needs much convincing. Jerry is a successful paint contractor but the straight life is boring the hell out of him. It is a terrific performance by Harry Dean Stanton who brings comedy and pathos to the film.

The first impression of Max is that he is a moral person caught up in an immoral world. He believes the world is unfair and he does everything he can to cheat it, a classic counter-culture hero. It is shocking then to see how greedy and at times violent Max can be. His greediness and violent behaviour is never glamorised either by the script or Hoffman’s performance. Max sucks you in, turns on you and the ultimate feeling you have for him is pity. It is one of Hoffman’s many career highs.

The script is adapted from a novel by Edward Bunker called No Beast So Fierce. A former career criminal himself Bunker turned to writing and acting. Film fans will perhaps most recognise Bunker from playing the part of Mr. Blue in Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs (1992). Max and his misadventures are based on Bunker and his life. The title of the book pleads sympathy for the devil. The film seems to at the beginning but ultimately loses this one track approach mainly on account of Hoffman’s layered performance.  Bunker shares a screenwriting credit for this film with two-time Oscar winner Alvin Sargent (Julia (1978) and Ordinary People (1981)) and Jeffery Boam. Bunker also has a cameo in a bar with a mustachioed Hoffman. They look like they could be father and son, or a weird cross-generational twin.

Straight Time is a fantastic, stirring, character-driven film. It is not always mentioned in Hoffman’s popular filmography but it is among the talented actors best work. A major flaw in the film is the relationship between Max and Jenny. It is never really clarified what attracts Jenny to Max so much. The answer is in the writing. Female characters are either underwritten or stereotyped in this film. This is an accusation you could point at many of the New Wave American films. Women are the object of male desire. They will do anything for them for little or no reason. Watching back as a revisionist it looks like a collective fantasy in the male-dominated writing rooms.

Having said that, this reviewer believes that Straight Time along with Scarecrow (1973) are two films from their potent era that deserve more attention.

 

 

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Dustin Hoffman Retrospective @ IFI

 

Dustin Hoffman’s breakthrough hit, The Graduate, returns to screens on Friday, June 23rd, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of its 1967 release. Mike Nichols’s now-iconic film centres on a young college graduate who is seduced by an older woman, and then falls in love with her daughter. Nine other films will be screened over a two-week period showcasing the best performances from Hoffman’s illustrious career.

John Schlesinger’s Midnight Cowboy kicks off the season on June 10th. Famously the only X-rated film to win the Oscar for Best Picture, Hoffman plays ‘Ratso’ Rizzo, a small-time New York conman who falls in with hustler Joe Buck (Jon Voight). Seven years later, Hoffman re-teamed with Schlesinger for the Marathon Manwhich screens the following Saturday, June 17th.

On June 15th, Hoffman delivers an electrifying performance as comedian Lenny Bruce in Bob Fosse’s Lenny. Bruce, the stand-up comedian whose focus on social satire, was the forerunner of controversial greats such as George Carlin and Bill Hicks; Hoffman received his third Oscar nomination for his performance.

Two titles in the season will be shown on 35mm prints. Papillon, one of cinema’s great prison films, screens on Sunday, June 18th. Co-starring Steve McQueen, the film focusses on two prisoners who form an alliance of convenience before eventually becoming friends. Also showing in 35mm will be Ulu Grosbard’s 1978 film, Straight Time. Based on a novel by Edward Bunker, the film sees Hoffman play Max Dembo, an ex-con trying to make it in the outside world.

Alan J Pakula’s Oscar-winning All the President’s Men returns on Thursday, June 22nd. Journalists Carl Bernstein (Hoffman) and Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) of the Washington Post work together on what initially appears to be a minor story of little import, a break-in at Washington’s Watergate Hotel in 1972. Their investigation led to the eventual downfall of the Nixon administration.

In Tootsie, directed by Sydney Pollack, Hoffman plays Michael Dorsey, an actor struggling more because of his difficult reputation than lack of talent. Desperate for work, he poses as ‘Dorothy Michaels’ in an audition for a daytime soap opera. Featuring a wondering comic turn from Hoffman, Jessica Lange won an Oscar for her role as actress Julie Nichols. The film screens on Saturday, June 24th.

Hoffman’s two Oscar-winning performances will also be shown during the season, both on Sunday, June 25th. Hoffman received his first golden statuette for his performance as workaholic Ted Kramer in Robert Benson’s Kramer Vs. Kramer. When his wife, Joanna (Meryl Streep), walks out, Kramer is forced to take care of his young son alone. In Rain Man,Hoffman plays autistic savant Raymond Babbitt, the older brother of Charlie (Tom Cruise); Charlie searches out his long-lost sibling, when he learns that Raymond is the major beneficiary of their father’s estate. The film went on to win four Oscars, including Best Picture.

Tickets for these screenings are available now at www.ifi.ie or by calling the IFI Box Office on 01 – 6793477.

SCHEDULE:

JUNE 10th (20.40) MIDNIGHT COWBOY

JUNE 15th (18.30) LENNY

JUNE 17th (20.30) MARATHON MAN

JUNE 18th (14.00) PAPILLON

JUNE 22nd (18.20) ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN

JUNE 23rd (20.40) STRAIGHT TIME

JUNE 24th (18.00) TOOTSIE

JUNE 25th (16.00) KRAMER VS. KRAMER

JUNE 25th (18.10) RAIN MAN

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IFI Launch The Irish Adverts Project

 

The Irish Film Institute (IFI) today celebrates Ireland’s advertising heritage with the unveiling of a collection of restored television adverts from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. The adverts, the culmination of an 18 month-long project to preserve and digitise Ireland’s TV advertising past, document the fascinating evolution of Irish consumer society and culture over three decades, and are free-to-view worldwide on the IFI Player.

The IFI Irish Film Archive, supported by a grant from the BAI’s Archiving Funding Scheme, has catalogued, digitised, restored and preserved a large collection of 35mm film television advertisements made in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. These commercials were made for broadcast on Irish television by a number of prolific Irish advertising agencies including Wilson Hartnell, Birchall, Hunter, and Arks, for a variety of Irish and international corporations.

The collection, numbering nearly 8,000 rolls of film, had been held in a number of damp warehouses for decades and, as a result of poor storage conditions, had suffered physical deterioration and contracted a mould infestation before it was transferred to the IFI Irish Film Archive in the mid-1990s. The IFI Irish Film Archive team has salvaged this material, through a combination of painstaking processes including frame-by-frame assessment, extensive physical and chemical conservation, followed by scanning and digital restoration. The collection has also been catalogued and preserved according to international best practice, thus safeguarding it for the future and making it widely accessible for the first time.

This project has resulted in the creation of a substantial Irish TV advertising archive of leading brands ranging from Cadbury to Calor, and promotional films for state organisations such as Dublin Corporation, the ESB and CIÉ. It is a rich treasure trove of national memory and cultural artefacts. These films may be only seconds long but, taken together, they provide a unique window into Irish society and consumer habits over the course of three decades. They tell us much about the community they were made for, as well as the era they were made in, reflecting an Ireland of very different social mores, standards, dress sense, and attitudes to gender and race. Fascinating on many levels, they can be enjoyed from a nostalgic, historical, social or cultural perspective. Over 200 adverts are available to view now on the IFI Player at ifiplayer.ie.

This project has been transformative for the IFI Irish Film Archive on many levels. The funding provided by the BAI enabled the IFI to invest in the specialised digital equipment necessary to tackle such an enormous digitisation and conservation project, the first undertaken by the Institute since the publishing of its Digital Preservation and Access Strategy. Through the process of developing the complex preservation and digital workflows required to utilise these new technologies for this project, the IFI Irish Film Archive’s reputation for digital innovation has been cemented.

Ross Keane, IFI Director, commented, “We are delighted to be adding this critically important material to the IFI Irish Film Archive’s online collection. This project has been a huge undertaking for the organisation, and we are particularly pleased to be able to share the results with the public through our our new IFI Player, which provides access to many parts of our vast collection to audiences right around the world, free of charge.”

Michael O’Keeffe, CEO of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI), added, ‘The BAI is delighted to be associated with this Irish Film Institute project. The preservation aspects of the project, together with the historical and cultural value of the advertising material, are commendable. It epitomises the aims of the BAI’s Archiving Scheme by contributing to the preservation of Ireland’s broadcasting heritage, and record of Irish culture.’

Commenting on the launch, Group Chief Executive of Wilson Hartnell/Ogilvy Group, J.P. Donnelly said, ‘We are most grateful to the Irish Film Institute for resurrecting some of the iconic advertising of the 1960s. Wilson Hartnell/Ogilvy was at the heart of many of these great ads, which helped build some powerful brands and some great categories that became the backbone of the Irish market. Many of these brands still live on today, and prove what David Ogilvy always said — “unless your brand is built on a big idea, it will pass like a ship in the night.”

 

 

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Chinese-language Film Festival Ireland @ IFI

      

The inaugural Chinese-language Film Festival Ireland débuts this year at the Irish Film Institute with Made in Taiwana festival highlighting the work of master filmmaker Hou Hsiao-Hsien and his longtime collaborator, screenwriter Chu Tien-Wen.

The festival will run from May 11th to 14th and will feature rarely-screened award-winning films by the internationally-acclaimed Taiwanese master director, as well as an exclusive masterclass and post-screening Q&As. The masterclass, supported by Screen Training Ireland, will be led by Chinese-language cinema expert Professor Chris Berry of King’s College London.

Commenting on the festival’s slate, Programme Director Marie-Pierre Richard said, ‘Hou Hsiao-Hsien has been instrumental in bringing East Asian cinema to the world stage. His subjects are intimate and personal, but his films speak to a universal, timeless human experience. We are grateful he and Chu Tien-Wen have generously accepted our invitation to visit Ireland and launch this festival.’

Regarded as the founding father of the 1980s Taiwanese New Wave movement, Hou’s films are distinct in their melancholy, impressionistic, and passionately humanist style. They offer an intimate and uncompromising radiograph of Taiwan’s history of change. Long shots and largely static camera positions make his films instantly recognizable. His work is powerfully immersive, filled with nuance and intuition.

The festival opens on May 11th with a screening of the martial arts epic The Assassin (2015) set in 9th-century China during the last years of the Tang Dynasty. Filmed on location in Taiwan, Mongolia and Hubei Province, the film centres on an assassin tasked with killing corrupt officials by her master, Jiaxin. The film won the Best Director prize at Cannes, and was nominated for several international awards including the BAFTA for Best Foreign Language Film. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with the director and screenwriter.

The festival will feature rare screenings of three films spanning Hou’s career. Fuelled by memories from childhood, A Time To Live, A Time to Die, is both autobiographical and universal. The recently-restored The Boys from Fengkuei (1983), reflects on Hou’s youth, with gangs on the streets of southern port city Kaohsiung, while A City of Sadness, winner of the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, is rooted in a haunting period of 20th century Taiwan history.

The festival will also present the Irish premieres of Huang Hui-Chen’s documentary Small Talk (Best Documentary, Teddy Award, Berlinale 2017) and Midi Z’s The Road to Mandalay (Fedeora Award for Best Film, Venice Film Festival, 2016). A special screening has also been organised with the support of the Taiwan Film Institute of the remastered wuxia martial arts classic A Touch of Zen (1971), the first Chinese-language film to win at Cannes, plus a programme of six short animation films curated by Dr. Chi-Sui Wang, Executive Curator, KuanDu International Animation Festival (KDIAF) and presented in association with KDIAF and the Animation Department, Taipei National University of the Arts.

David O’Mahony, Head of Cinema Programming at the IFI, added, ‘This festival gives audiences the opportunity to see the very best of modern Taiwanese cinema, alongside rarely-screened classics that form the basis of the canon of cinema from east Asia. We’re particularly excited to have Hou Hsiao-Hsien and Chu Tien-Wen visit the festival to discuss their acclaimed work.

Tickets for Made in Taiwan are available now at www.ifi.ie/made-in-taiwan or by calling the IFI Box Office on 01-6793477. More information is also available fromwww.clffi.ie.

MADE IN TAIWAN SCHEDULE:

THURSDAY MAY 11th (18.00): The Assassin

The screening of The Assassin will be followed by a Q&A moderated by John Maguire of the Sunday Business Post.

FRIDAY MAY 12th (18.00): A Time to Live, A Time to Die
The screening of A Time to Live, A Time to Die, will be followed by a Q&A moderated by Tara Brady of The Irish Times.

FRIDAY MAY 12th (21.15): Small Talk

SATURDAY MAY 13th (12.00): Masterclass with Hou Hsiao-Hsien

SATURDAY MAY 13th (14.30): The Boys From Fengkuei

SATURDAY MAY 13th (18.00): The Road to Mandalay

SUNDAY MAY 14th (14.00): A Touch of Zen

The screening of A Touch of Zen will be introduced by Professor Chris Berry

SUNDAY MAY 14th (17.30): A City of Sadness

The screening of A City of Sadness will be followed by a conversation with Hou Hsaio-Hsien, Chu Tien-Wen, and Professor Chris Berry

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Czech New Wave @ IFI

 

The IFI, in association with the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Ireland, present ‘Intimate Lighting’, a season of films from the Czech New Wave. Featuring the work of cinematic masters such as Jiří Menzel, Jan Němec, Miloš Forman, Ivan Passer and Karel Vachek, this new season represents a rare opportunity to see these highly influential films on the big screen. The IFI is also delighted to welcome Professor Jaromír Šofr, cinematographer on Menzel’s Closely Observed Trains, for a Q&A and Masterclass.

The films presented in this season were produced during a period of political liberalisation in Czechoslovakia during the 1960s, a time of flourishing artistic creativity which allowed a group of astute young writers and directors to produce a wealth of highly imaginative, politically engaged cinema. The filmmakers featured in this season, most of whom were students of the Prague film school, FAMU, smuggled damning critiques of the government into their state-funded films and hence many were indefinitely shelved or banned outright. A number of filmmakers left the country after the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968.

Kicking off the festival on Saturday 8th at 14.00 is a double-bill featuring Moravian Hellas, a documentary on the Strážnice Folklore Festival directed by Karel Vachek, and Jan Němec’s Diamonds of the Night, in which two unnamed teenage boys flee a German train taking them to a concentration camp. Němec’s second film of the season, A Report on the Party and the Guests, centres on a summer party rudely interrupted by a strange authority figure, and screens on Saturday 22nd.

Miloš Forman’s highly amusing, semi-improvised The Loves of a Blonde screens on Sunday 9th at 14.00, while his Oscar-nominated classic, The Firemen’s Ball, will show on April 29th. When a grand ball is arranged by a small town’s fire brigade in honour of their oldest serving member, the self-serving institute descends into farcical dysfunction.

Intimate Lighting, the festival‘s title film, will be presented on Wednesday 12th at 18.30. A beautifully observed drama of the everyday, that sees Petr, a musician, and his girlfriend, Stepa, travel from Prague to a provincial town where he is due to give a concert. This was the only film directed by Ivan Passer in Czechoslovakia.

Nobody Will Laugh, directed by Hynek Bočan and inspired by a Milan Kundera short story, tells the story of Karel Klíma, a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts who gets himself into trouble when he loses a paper written by an aspiring but hopeless student. The film screens on Wednesday 19th at 18.30.

Director Evald Schorm’s 1969 film, The Seventh Day, the Eighth Night, will show on Wednesday 26th at 18.15. When the stationmaster of an unremarkable Czech village disappears, a group of travelling actors arrive to perform a passion play, which is enough to spark an outbreak of collective paranoia amongst the villagers who begin to question the identity of these alleged actors.

Winner of the 1968 Best Foreign Language Oscar, Closely Observed Trains screens on Sunday 23rd at 20.00. The film that brought the Czech New Wave movement international acclaim tells the story of Miloš, an unambitious 22-year-old signalman in German-occupied Czechoslovakia. His encounters with a variety of characters bring the naive young man into contact with the tragedy of the war. The film’s cinematographer, Professor Jaromir Šofr, will attend this screening and participate in a Q&A.

The following evening, Professor Jaromír Šofr will conduct a Masterclass in the IFI. The focus of the discussion will be Professor Šofr’s work as a cinematographer in 1960s. The Masterclass will provide audiences with information on the conditions for filmmakers in the 1960s Czechoslovakia and provide contextualisation for the films presented throughout the season.

Closing the season on Sunday, April 30th at 14.00 is Juraj Herz’s The Cremator. Made hastily during the Prague Spring of 1968, Herz’s nightmarish tale centres on a fanatically zealous cremator who believes he is releasing the souls of the dead for reincarnation. The screening of The Cremator will be introduced by noted costume and set designer, Joe Vaněk.

‘Intimate Lighting’ is presented in association with the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Ireland. For more information about the festival and to buy tickets, please visit www.ifi.ie/intimate-lighting.

A multi-event pass, 5 films for €45, is available by phone or in person from the IFI Box Office – 01 679 3477.

For interview requests and images, please contact Michelle McDonagh (mmcdonagh@irishfilm.ie) at the IFI Press Office on 01 679 5744.

‘INTIMATE LIGHTING’ SCHEDULE:

SAT APR 8th (14.00): Moravian Hellas (Moravská Hellas) and Diamonds of The Night (Démanty noci)

SUN APR 9th (14.00): The Loves of a Blonde (Lásky jedné plavovlásky)

WED APR 12th (18.30): Intimate Lighting (Intimní osvětlení)

WED APR 19th (18.30): Nobody Will Laugh (Nikdo se nebude smát)

SAT APR 22nd (14.00): A Report on The Party and The Guests (O slavnosti a hostech)

SUN APR 23rd (20.00): Closely Observed Trains (Ostře sledované vlaky)

MON APR 24th (18.30): Public master-class with Prof. Jaromír Šofr

WED APR 26th (18.15): The Seventh Day, the Eighth Night (Den sedmý, osmá noc)

SAT APR 29th (14.00): The Firemen’s Ball (Hoří, má panenko)

SUN APR 30th (14.00): The Cremator (Spalovač mrtvol)

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Niall McCann’s ‘Lost in France’ @ IFI

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The IFI presents a special screening of Niall McCann’s latest documentary, Lost in France, which chronicles a 2008 pilgrimage to France of a number of Scottish bands signed to the independent Chemikal Underground record label. The screening will be followed by a satellite broadcast from the band’s performance.

Chemikal Underground has been Scotland’s premier indie label since its establishment in the 1990s. The label has released work by a diverse range of fondly-remembered groups such as Bis, Magoo, and Urusei Yatsura, although the label’s greatest successes came from Arab Strap, Mogwai, and label-founders The Delgados.

In the label’s early years, a selection of its bands, including Alex Kapranos’s pre-Franz Ferdinand outfit, travelled to perform in Mauron, a small town in Brittany. Seven years later, the musicians retraced their steps. The resulting documentary provides the opportunity to make comparisons between the thriving Scottish DIY music scene of 20 years ago and the difficulties faced by new acts today, given the increasingly mainstream-focused music press and radio.

The cast’s reminiscences are engaging and often extremely funny, and, as one would imagine, the live footage and soundtrack are exceptional.

The screening will be followed by a live satellite performance by Alex Kapranos, Stuart Braithwaite, R.M. Hubbert, Emma Pollock, and Paul Savage. 

Tickets for this screening and live broadcast are available now at www.ifi.ie or by calling the IFI Box Office on 01-6793477.

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Irish Film Review: Pushtar

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Jonathan Victory takes a look at Alan Lambert’s film Pushtar, which screened at the IFI’s monthly Irish Focus on new Irish film and filmmakers.

In the distant future climate change has devastated the Earth. Pushtar, a tundra on the outskirts of the Himalayas,
 is home to a disparate settlement Among them, a breed of hypersensitive children acting as weather vanes to atmospheric changes that are guided by 8ft tall ‘Pteradogs’, and governed by a council of Elders.

 

This is one of those films. It’s good but it’s too weird to get the audience it deserves. Experimental film often eschews sequential narrative structure in favour of evoking an emotional journey; the viewer is meant to be engaged by the aesthetic or imagery rather than by the characters or story. Yet the story of Pushtar is not only one that could be followed, it should be followed for its approach to an issue so important yet surprisingly difficult to explore on-screen; climate change.

Acting as his own cinematographer, Irish director Alan Lambert explores the future of Earth and humanity should we allow greenhouse gas pollution to continue unabated. Set in the year 2365, Pushtar opens with space imagery that evokes the spirit of 2001: A Space Odyssey. The planet Earth has changed so much that for all intents and purposes, it is a different planet from the one we know and human behaviour has changed along with it.

Three centuries ago, our culture, technology, lifestyle and language were vastly different from what they are now. So why do films set in the future rarely deviate from characters who talk and behave like we do? Of course, to project what speculated changes humanity will undergo in centuries to come runs the risk of alienating audiences if the characters are too different from us. But that is precisely the challenge Pushtar runs towards.

The context of life is different now that climate change has ravaged the planet. The remnants of humanity live in the world’s highest mountains, avoiding merciless heat, ferocious storms and lethal clouds of methane, as they struggle to survive in living conditions similar to our cavemen ancestors. And that’s the part of Earth that’s still habitable.

The film opens with a group of racially-diverse nomads seeking the titular Pushtar, a community of humans living in a Nepalese cave. Children have evolved the ability to detect changes in the weather, making adults dependent on their guidance for survival. As they travel across rugged mountains, they must avoid speaking to conserve oxygen which is now low in the atmosphere. Much of the film’s dialogue in the first 20-odd minutes is through the sign language of American Plains Indians.

When they finally reach the oxygen-rich refuge of Pushtar and are inducted by an Elder, his deep, Caribbean voice says, “History is Dust” and relieves the tension of eerie silence. This film suggests that we take more than just speech for granted. The Elder outlines how little knowledge remains of the civilisation that came before theirs, intoning that “Passion is Dust. Requiem is Dust. Symphony is Dust.” Theirs is a “scientifically-run society” where survival is such a conscious priority that there is simply no time for prejudices of ethnicity, religion or ideology. Yet their technocratic mindset is itself ideological and leads to tension between those who trust the Children to keep them safe and those who advocate the use of genetically-engineered Pteradogs.

The Pteradogs are an interesting concept but are clearly wolfhounds super-imposed to appear larger. This is one of many times where the film’s budgetary limitations show in its special effects, which often just consist of the imposition of stock footage. At other times, the special effects are impressively seamless. The Pteradogs themselves are a disappointing aspect of the film, moreso for how repetitive they become. They do very little other than stand around panting so we never see them use the abilities they are prized for. Whoever first said directors should “never work with kids or animals” might take some consolation that at least the young cast playing the Children convey so much effectively in their silent scenes.

One could imagine this premise being approached any number of ways such that it would make for a compelling but more conventional genre piece; Some YA fantasy where the Children protagonists realise the Pteradogs are being pushed by some shadowy conspiracy; An eco-conscious Leonardo DiCaprio drama where he’s trying to keep the frayed community together; and so on. This story could have had a big budget to match its big ideas and yet we are presented with a low-budget experimental piece with an ambiguous ending.

At times, it evokes qualities of Terrence Malick and Nicholas Winding Refn. Indeed, its aspirations towards transcendence with its philosophical contemplations, striking visuals and racially-diverse cast, lend it a spirit similar to films like Ron Fricke’s Baraka or Peter Brook’s Mahabharata. The form ends up meshing with the content well. The budgetary constraints may lead to tighter framing but that leads to a greater sense of claustrophobia, intimacy and intensity.

Indeed, a recent talk by Alan Lambert at the IFI revealed more insight into the filmmaking process. The camera is usually static, yet snowflakes and wisps of smoke give scenes a sense of motion and energy. The size of cavernous spaces is conveyed through echoes. The landscape’s shifts from calm to hostile back to calm are conveyed by the pulsing soundtrack and diverse yet consistent changes in colour palette.

And although some vista shots were captured with Australia standing in for Nepal, most of the location filming was actually done on Killiney Hill. A lot of interior scenes were shot in the basement of Filmbase. This is an outstanding contribution to Irish cinema if for no other reason than demonstrating what kind of high-concept genre-piece can be accomplished when funded by no more than crowdfunding and an Arts Council grant.

And what of the film’s message? Does Lambert effectively communicate the dangers of climate change by focusing on how human behaviour would be impacted? When asked at the IFI talk, whether the film presented an optimistic or pessimistic scenario for humanity, Lambert’s conclusion was that the whole point of the film was to depict a society completely different from ours. Therefore projecting our own value judgement onto it would be missing the point.

The film expects a lot from its audience to engage with such ideas on such an advanced level. Pushtar stands out among Irish cinema for its visionary sweep and global consciousness. It is worth seeking out, even if it doesn’t have mass appeal, it has mass relevance. Irish film would benefit from more thought-provoking genre pieces like this.

 

Pushtar screened on Tuesday, 16th August 2016 @ 18.30

 

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Competition: Win Tickets to ‘Pushtar’

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Alan Lambert’s film Pushtar screens at this month’s IFI Irish Focus on new Irish film and filmmakers on Tuesday, 16th August 2016 @ 18.30.

In the distant future climate change has devastated the Earth. Pushtar, a tundra on the outskirts of the Himalayas,
is home to a disparate settlement Among them, a breed of hypersensitive children acting as weather vanes to atmospheric changes that are guided by 8ft tall ‘Pteradogs’, and governed by a council of Elders.

Thanks to our friends at the IFI we have a pair of tickets to give away. To be in with a chance of winning, email filmireland@gmail.com with Pushtar in the subject line by 2pm Monday, 15th August when the Film Ireland Hat will consult with the elders and select a winner,

Director Alan Lambert will participate in a post-screening Q&A.

Book tickets here

 

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IFI Irish Focus: Director Alan Lambert on ‘Pushtar’

PUSHTAR_Kashmira_Larkin_2015

 

Ahead of its screening as part of Irish Focus at the IFI, experimental filmmaker Alan Lambert introduces his film, Pushtar, to Film Ireland.

 

Although I have been using low-budget film techniques and working in non-commercial formats for many years, the origins of my film Pushtar are not to be found along a path of film development, or even in identifiable film formats, but along a path exploring theoretical strands of earth sciences that connect to my film work at a tangent. One such project emerging from these strands is ‘The Seventh Earth’, an ongoing concept driven website project. It touches on aspects of climate change and more specifically the predicted 6 degree global temperature increase, now a barometer for many climatologists.

In relation to The Seventh Earth, I often found myself in discussions with environmental scientists as frequently as with experimental filmmakers and artists. The conversations often followed a familiar path of exploring geo-engineering and practical scientific solutions – flooding the Sahara, draining the Yangtze, or dispersing tons of ash into the upper atmosphere to drop the Earth’s temperature by a degree. Necessary, fascinating and often charged though these conversations were I found myself increasingly aware of the absence of a certain idea within them, the idea that the people that were going to be dealing with these situations in the future were not going to be like us – no more like us than the 19th Century people dealing with the industrial revolution. Their mind-set would have fundamentally changed.

During the same period, I returned to Japan to complete some work after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The society I was greeted with was very different to the one I had left a month before. My friends and clients had not slept properly in weeks. They never knew when to brace themselves for an aftershock, of which they were experiencing four per day. The electricity was only being used at half par – street lights and shop displays were left off – everything was at half par. I felt like I had walked into Europe during World War II. The uncertainty was in itself exhausting. This intensified my feeling that the grand-children of people living with this uncertainty on a daily basis would have to adapt to it, practically and emotionally, in ways that we simply cannot foresee.

I felt that it would be worth using the low-budget film techniques that I had developed, and the non-commercial formats which I was free to work within, to make a film that placed the viewer within that future world – and close to people who regard their reality very differently. People for whom much that we take for granted has been un-learned – for whom the concept of stability itself has become alien.

But I wanted to avoid a certain trap of science-fiction – namely to set a futuristic premise and then simply proceed with a thinly veiled contemporary genre piece. I wanted to give the viewer time to really forget their own daily lives before beginning to feel close to any of my protagonists. I wanted to create a feeling that they were seeing these people and their daily lives at close quarters but also from an immense distance – like observing something in a microscope. And a feeling that it is being observed not entirely consciously, but perhaps through a half-waking, half-sleeping state – as if a film viewed from a higher consciousness, suggesting in many ways that achieving that higher consciousness is in itself the way to adapt – and perhaps the only way…

Pushtar is that ‘higher place’.

The story that emerges follows the path of children that have developed a unique sensibility to weather changes and are used by the elders as natural barometers, to warn of encroaching atmospheric changes – dangerous changes, as a drifting cloud of silent and deadly methane can replace the breathable air around them in moments. These children are paired with their ‘Pteradogs’, 8 foot tall hyper-bred wolfhounds that act as guides, mentors in a world they may intuitively know better.

As their community continues to move to higher ground, these children and animals develop forms of communication un-decipherable to the adults. The final threads of the world as we know it fade away.

As Max LeCain observed, “… ( the film is ) more like part of an eco-system in form than a narrative; something melting, a process… like a documentary inside a dream ” – or a child’s dream of a film.

In keeping with this premise of gradual, organic change, the film was made in a very improvisational and un-structured way. I let the children and the animals lead the way and shaped most of it in editing.

The film features newcomers Dean Cronin and Kashmira Larkin as the leading children, Keshet Zur and Ademola Oladeji as their guardians and Richard Marsh and Niamh O’Farrell as the head priests, with the voice of the master of ceremonies provided by French actor Dominique Monot. The soundtrack was improvised by European Sensoria Band and Guests.

 

The film was crowd-funded on Rockethub and Indiegogo and supported by the Arts Council of Ireland

 

Pushtar screens on Tuesday, 16th August 2016 @ 18.30 at the IFI as part of Irish Focus, a focus on new Irish film and filmmakers.
 
Alan Lambert will participate in a post-screening Q&A
 
Tickets are available here or from the IFI Box Office or on 01 679 3477 

 

 

 

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Liam Cunningham @ IFI

 

The Irish Film Institute welcome actor Liam Cunningham for a special preview screening of his latest film The Childhood of a Leader followed by a Q&A on Thursday, August 18th at 8 p.m.

Liam Cunningham is an Irish actor best known as Davos Seaworth in HBO’s smash hit series Game of Thrones, a role that gained him international recognition. He has worked on leading TV series, including Outcasts, Camelot, Dr. Who and Merlin. Liam’s debut film role was as a police officer in, Into the West and alongside his expansive television career he has appeared in many award-winning films, including War HorseThe Guard, Hunger, Safehouse, and the box office hit Clash of the Titans. 

An extreme case of nature versus nurture is unfolded in this debut from actor-turned-director Brady Corbet. An adaptation of Jean-Paul Sartre’s story, The Childhood of a Leader is a bold statement of intent which announces Corbet as a filmmaker of vision and ambition. The year is 1918; seven-year-old Prescott is in France with his American diplomat father (Cunningham), a significant player in the war-ending Paris peace negotiations, and his German mother (Bernice Bejo). Increasingly rebellious, the young boy responds to his distracted parent’s emotional neglect in increasingly alarming fashion.

Tickets for the screening and Q&A are available now at www.ifi.ie or by calling the IFI Box Office on 01 – 6793477.

The Childhood of a Leader will open at the IFI on Friday, August 19th with tickets going on sale Monday, August 15th.

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Interview: Henrietta Norton, ‘Born and Reared’

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Born and Reared tells the stories of four men living in Northern Ireland today in the aftermath of a conflict. Told from a contemporary perspective, the film captures, through their stories, the identity of a place and the men who live there. Following the film’s recent sell-out premiere in Galway, Born and Reared screens in Dublin at the IFI as part of their Irish Focus strand.

Filmmakers Henrietta Norton and Dan Dennison spent over a year with everyday men of inner city Belfast whose lives had been defined by conflict. “We wanted to explore ideas around masculinity and male identity in contemporay Belfast,” Henrietta explains. “How do you go from having a position of power, whether it be within an organisation or a belief system or whatever, to going back to being a taxi driver, a joiner or a dad. We wanted to explore those themes from a contemporary perspective.”

Henrietta spent a lot of time in Northern Ireland herself as a child. Her stepmother was the Northern Ireland secretary Mo Mowlam, so she partly grew up in Belfast during the time the Good Friday Agreement was being drawn up. And then in 2013, Henrietta was in Derry working with “an amazing group of men, who had formed an organisation called Men’s Action Network, which they had started because a friend of theirs had committed suicide. They had created this space for men to come and talk about issues that affect them as men. I started thinking that this is something that is not being explored. This is something that is not being talked about – masculinity and identities, post-conflict.” So, for Henrietta, the project was shaped from both a personal and political perspective, as she asked the question, “while there was a political peace agreement drawn up in 1998, was there a human peace in Northern Ireland?”

Through each story we learn what has happened to these men and how the conflict has defined them in the aftermath of the Troubles. In order to achieve this it was vital for the filmmakers to gain the trust of the men they interviewed. Henrietta says, “We didn’t pick up a camera for the first five months that we spent time with those men before we started filming. We filmed the whole film over a year and for the first four or five months we just hung out. We met the families, we met the children, we met the friends and we just spent time together to build up trust and a genuine relationship because, for me, it was about finding the honesty.”

The film comes to Dublin after its premiere at Galway and a private screening earlier this summer. “We’ve had some amazing responses from our audience. The general feedback is that it is incredibly refreshing. We did a private screening in Belfast to a local audience, which was terrifying because it’s their life and their world you’re showing to them – the response was unbelievable. One schoolteacher stood up and said every single teenager in Northern Ireland should see this film. Responses like that are really powerful.”

 

Born and Reared screens on Tuesday, 19th July 2016 at 18.30 at the IFI as part of Irish Focus, a focus on new Irish film and filmmakers.

Directors Henrietta Norton and Dan Dennison will participate in a post-screening Q&A.

Tickets are available here or from the IFI Box Office or on 01 679 3477 

 

 

 

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Podcast Interview: Kim Newman

 

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The IFI present Haunted Landscapes – A Season of Folk Horror from 16 – 30 July. According to David O’Mahony, Head of Programming at the IFI, “the term folk horror has been used to yoke together disparate cultural artefacts that exhibit common traits: an interest in paganism; traditional, rural communities with a connection to the land and its regenerative cycles; the importance of ritual and superstition over scientific rigour.”

The season welcomes renowned horror fiction novelist and critic Kim Newman to Dublin, who is attending the opening weekend to introduce Witchfinder General,  The Wicker Man and Quartermass and the Pit.

Paul Farren got on the Film Ireland phone to talk to Kim about the films on offer, and the dangers of playing with farm implements and falling into threshing machines…

 

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Tickets for the season are available now at www.ifi.ie or at the IFI Box Office on 01 679 3477.

FULL SCHEDULE

WITCHFINDER GENERAL July 16th (18.30)

THE WICKER MAN July  16th (20.45)

QUATERMASS AND THE PIT July  17th (14.00)

VALERIE AND HER WEEK OF WONDERS July  20th (18.30)

BLOOD ON SATAN’S CLAW July  23rd (20.30)

THE DEVIL RIDES OUT July  24th (14.00)

NIGHT OF THE DEMON July  27th (18.30)

THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT July  30th (20.30)

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Capstones Shift @ IFI

                      

The IFI will present a special screening of Roberto Rossellini’s Germany Year Zero (1948) on June 1st and will host two walking tours complemented by film and architectural analysis, on June 18th, as part of Capstones Shift, a multi-disciplinary, city-wide programme exploring the architectural legacies left by the early 20th-century Irish revolutionary period.

On June 1st (19.00), the IFI presents Roberto Rossellini’s Germany Year Zero (1948), exploring the destruction of Berlin after World War II, and introduced by Professor Kathleen James-Chakraborty, UCD School of Art History and Cultural Policy. FollowingRome, Open City (1945) and Paisan (1946), director Rossellini turned to the ruined city of Berlin to complete his trilogy of films in this devastating portrait of an obliterated post-war Europe, and one of the most affecting films about childhood in the history of cinema.

On June 18th at 11.00 and 14.30, in collaboration with the Irish Architecture Foundation, the IFI presents Dublin Plays Itself – two walking tours complemented by film and architectural analysis, exploring the impact of the 1916 Rising on the fabric of Dublin and the post-conflict recovery and evolution of the city in the 100 years since. The walking tours will be conducted by Dr. Ellen Rowley, Irish Research Council EPS Fellow, DCC Heritage + UCD Architecture; Merlo Kelly, Architect and Architectural Historian; and IFI Head of Irish Programming Sunniva O’Flynn. Both walks begin in the IFI, touching down in the IAF’s riverside premises on Bachelor’s Walk and in the Hugh Lane Gallery, Parnell Square for screenings of illustrative material from the IFI Irish Film Archive. Points of architectural interest along the route will be described by architectural historians Dr. Ellen Rowley (morning walk) and Merlo Kelly (afternoon walk). The tour will be open to up to 30 participants in each group.

Capstones Shift is a programme of lectures, exhibitions, conferences, film screenings and publications exploring the architectural legacies left by the early 20th-century Irish revolutionary period, from the loss of buildings destroyed to the debates about how to repair the city fabric and on to the rebuilding itself. It is presented by Dublin City Council and University College Dublin Decade of Centenaries with the support of The Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and in association with Architecture Ireland, Ireland 2016, The Irish Architectural Archive, The Irish Architecture Foundation, the Irish Film Institute, The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage, The National Library of Ireland and The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland.

IFI SCHEDULE OF EVENTS:

GERMANY YEAR ZERO
JUNE 1ST (19.00) + introduction by Professor Kathleen James-Chakraborty
Tickets are available to buy online at www.ifi.ie or by calling the IFI Box Office on 01 679 3477.

FROM THE VAULTS: DUBLIN PLAYS ITSELF
JUNE 18TH (meet at IFI, 6 Eustace Street, Dublin 2)
11.00 – 13.45 Group 1 — conducted by Sunniva O’Flynn & Dr. Ellen Rowley;
14.30 – 17.15 Group 2 — conducted by Sunniva O’Flynn & Merlo Kelly
Walking Tour tickets: €10 (no concessions available)

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IFI Irish Focus: Experimental Filmmaker Maximilian Le Cain on ‘Cloud of Skin’

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Cloud of Skin, the first feature by experimental filmmaker Maximilian Le Cain, screens as part of Irish Focus at the IFI. Below Maximilian introduces his work to Film Ireland.

 
Cloud of Skin is my first feature film. It was produced in collaboration with the Dublin-based Experimental Film Society collective, of which I am a member, and has in common with all my work that it is experimental in form.

It’s a narrative film, telling the story of a man, played by Dean Kavanagh, who is haunted by the memory of a blind woman with visionary powers who obsessively revisits the sites of their love affair. But it doesn’t unfold as a traditional narrative, it plays out more like an immersive dream experience in which normal perceptions of time are suspended.

My films are guided by a sense of exploration: the exploration of an atmosphere, an emotion, a series of techniques. They are experiments into what cinema is capable of and what I am capable of achieving with cinema.
 
In making Cloud of Skin a ‘first’ feature, I wanted to go back to silent cinema and explore my relationship with it or with certain aspects of it. Most obviously, the film is almost entirely without dialogue – in fact, the sound is comprised entirely of a soundscape created by the composer Karen Power. But what really interested me, looking at films by people like Jean Epstein or Frank Borzage, is the way some masters of silent cinema were able to take the simplest stories and use them to generate the most extraordinary emotion through imagery and rhythm, to the point that the subject matter transcended itself and almost took on the power of music.
 
Without imitating silent film techniques, I wanted to echo the iconic power of these movies. So I took this very simple, very dark love story and used it to create something that’s really about the experience of sight, touch, perception.

The powerful onscreen presence of the three actors that appear in it and the extremely atmospheric locations we used, as well as Karen’s extremely compelling soundtrack, are the crucial elements in weaving this spell. And I wanted to employ almost all the technologies I’ve been working with since I started making films in the ’90s in specific ways that hopefully resonate through contrasting very modern-looking DSLR imagery with slightly dated, almost home-movie DV or Super-8 footage. Using different visual textures has always been crucially important in my films and these ones speak to recent memory – and, hence, forgetfulness – in quite an evocative way.

Cloud of Skin screens on Wednesday, 25th May 2016 at 18.30 at the IFI as part of Irish Focus, a focus on new Irish film and filmmakers.
 
Maximilian Le Cain will participate in a post-screening conversation with Dean Kavanagh. 
 
Tickets are available here or from the IFI Box Office or on 01 679 3477 

 

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Report: After the Chick Flick: Female Identities and Hollywood Film

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Sarah Griffin enjoyed a lively discussion at ‘After the Chick Flick: Female Identities and Hollywood Film’, which followed a screening of Howard Hawks’ 1940 screwball comedy His Girl Friday at the IFI.

 

Panel discussions on film screenings are often an outsider’s way into the more critical side of cinema – where the deep (and meandering) thoughts can really be let loose.  So it proved with ‘After the Chick Flick: Female Identities and Hollywood Film’ in the IFI on Saturday 5th of March, with a lively discussion taking place after a screening of His Girl Friday (1940).  An emblematic screwball comedy, the film was a jumping-off point to dissect the genre commonly referred to as the ‘Chick Flick’; charting some of its history, analysing its place in our modern world of female action stars, and questioning the generally held belief that the style has outplayed its usefulness.  The term is often used pejoratively – dismissively aligning (and maligning) disparate movies together – but has also denoted a certain type of film that remains, as Prof. Diane Negra stated, our premier genre of intimacy.

Joining Prof. Negra for post-film discussion was Dr. Deborah Jermyn and Dr. Shelley Cobb, speaking to a good number of attendees who had laughed their way together through Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell’s classic battle of the sexes. To begin, Prof. Negra gave a brief overview of the period of generic stability the Chick Flick enjoyed from the 1980s on, and how it has steadily declined in representation – to the delight of its many detractors.  Coinciding with the post-millennial explosion of the Bromance, there are lots of factors to explore in how the Chick Flick has adapted to this brave new world, and whether it has survived the recent evolution or been left firmly in the past.  In the time given for discussion, we could try skim the surface of whether the Chick Flick is worth investigating, worth considering and, in the end, worth preserving.

Dr. Jermyn qualified her position by telling the gathered group that she is currently researching Nancy Meyers, a name synonymous with Chick Flicks and someone who has actively revelled in the moniker through her prolific career.  As it happens, Meyers had a strong connection to His Girl Friday, as Dr. Jermyn explained – having found much in the film to emulate in her own filmmaking, perhaps most importantly the emphasis placed on dialogue.  Her own output echoes the back-and-forth battle of the sexes in these early film types (not yet pigeon-holed as ‘women’s movies’), where the courtship was more egalitarian in nature.  Thanks to postfeminism and all its wily tricks, Dr. Jermyn pointed out that despite the rolling on of years we are still as preoccupied with the same central question this 1940s classic grappled with: can women have it all?

Dr. Shelley spoke about her own influences, most particularly her studies of Jane Austen’s works and how they have filtered down into movie making and the representation of romance.  She questioned how useful or problematic the ‘Chick Flick’ term is, and the shift in culture influenced on all sides by the solidifying of the ‘Bromance’ movie, raunch culture, Judd Apatow’s brand of feminism, and the rise of the ‘female friendship’ sub-genre.  Also on the table were the recent ‘alternative’ Chick Flicks that (mostly male) critics laud as turning the genre on its head, saving the style or representing ‘good’ feminism – Bridesmaids (2011) and Trainwreck (2015), to name two high-profile examples.  As with the best panel discussions, the greatest revelations were those you felt you could and should have seen yourself – the decline of star-driven Chick Flicks, and actresses whose names you could automatically associate with a certain type of film.  These are stars of the past we all recognise; Julia Roberts, Meg Ryan, Sandra Bullock, Jennifer Lopez, Reese Witherspoon and Katherine Heigl.  Female stars now appear to actively avoid the genre, relying more and more on action films to anchor an acting persona.  Yet the Chick Flick was an area where women were allowed to take up space – what do we lose in its exit?

Prof. Negra talked again about Chick Flicks’ movement away from the playfulness and intimacy of a film like His Girl Friday.  The ’80s marked this diversion, highlighted by Nora Ephron’s filmic belief that men and women are totally different, resulting in a cinematic style-glut summed up by Ephron’s Sleepless in Seattle (1993) – a couple presented as two separate entities until the very final act.  When talking about intimacy, (and the lack thereof), in visual representation it would be hard to avoid speaking about the pornification of modern society.  By sheer ubiquity, it has affected Chick Flicks perhaps more than any other genre in terms of the representation of courtship and intimacy, leading to a response of cinematic chasteness.  There is a sense of generic exhaustion about the Chick Flick, and an uncertainty in the current gender order that means ensemble casts and female friendship movies take precedence.

As with the very best of panel discussions, the questions from attendees were rapid and insightful.  Emerging adulthood and extended adolescence in millennials was raised, with an enthusiastic response from the panel – how this has changed Chick Flicks, making it harder to stage a happy ending in terms that are recognisable to cinema-goers often forced by economic situations to continue living in arrested development.  It was pointed out that the shared cultural experience of cinema has largely disappeared, apart from behemoths like Star Wars, and shifted to television – another suggested nail in the coffin of Chick Flicks.  Event movies are, of course, big business, and in a production culture that largely favours worldwide releases and global integration, the banter of the Chick Flick has fallen to the wayside in favour of more easily marketable vehicles.  With the #OscarsSoWhite controversy still a strong part of the conversation, the important issue of Chick Flicks’ essential whiteness and concern with affluence was well worth discussing.  The working class romance has largely been abandoned, and while ensemble movies allow for token diversity in casting, the genre is still very committed to whiteness.

The discussion had to be halted because of time constraints, but there was a feeling of eagerness and enthusiasm that could have kept it going for hours more.  Combining a screening with a panel discussion works so beautifully to bring everyone to the same point of reference for conversation, and this one opened up the concept of Chick Flicks as a genre worthy of much more thought.  It provided a free space in which to let the inner film nerd out to chat with like-minded people, and agree and disagree in security.  The audience left with loud chatter, and a thirst for more – surely the job of any event like this, and boding well for the coming year at the IFI.

 

 

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‘Sing Street’ Director John Carney and Cast @ IFI


Director John Carney and lead actors Ferdia Walsh-Peelo and Mark McKenna will attend the IFI for a Q&A following the opening night screening of their new film Sing Street on Friday March 18th. The screening will start at 8pm.With money tight in a boozy, middle-class 1980s Dublin household, youngest son Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) is forced to transfer from his private school to the Brothers in Synge Street where posh new boys are easy prey for the school bullies. Working on relationship advice and musical cues from his much-admired, louche, older brother (Jack Reynor), he forms a band to attract a sophisticated older woman (Lucy Boynton) who he persuades to appear in a series of music videos.

Tickets for this screening + Q&A are available now from the IFI Box Office on 01 679 3477 or online at www.ifi.ie.

Sing Street opens in cinemas nationwide on St. Patrick’s Day.

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Podcast: Interview with Diane Negra, Professor of Film Studies and Screen Culture and Head of Film Studies at UCD

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This Saturday (5th March) the IFI hosts a panel discussion looking at female identities and Hollywood film followed by a screening of Howard Hawks’ 1940 screwball comedy His Girl Friday. Diane Negra, Professor of Film Studies and Screen Culture and Head of Film Studies at UCD, along with Dr. Deborah Jermyn (Roehampton University) and Dr. Shelley Cobb (University of Southampton) will address a diverse set of questions in relation to the continued viability of the ‘chick flick’ as a means of coming to grips with some of the ideological uncertainties, ambivalences and industrial shifts that currently characterise female media representation.

Sarah Griffin sat down with Diane Negra to talk about Saturday’s event and discuss the historical roots of the contemporary chick flick, the representation of women in chick flicks, and what the post epitaph chick flick is.

 

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Tickets: €10 for both screening and panel discussion (tickets not sold separately) are available at www.ifi.ie. There will be a short break after the screening (approx. 30 mins) before the discussion starts.

Diane Negra is Professor of Film Studies and Screen Culture and Head of Film Studies at University College Dublin. She is the author, editor or co-editor of ten books including the forthcoming The Aesthetics and Affects of Cuteness (Routledge, 2017). Her work in media, gender and cultural studies has been widely influential and recognised with a range of research awards and fellowships. She currently serves as Co-Editor-in Chief of Television and New Media. Professor Negra has served on the Board of Directors of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies and currently serves on the Board for Console-ing Passions.

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Podcast: Interview with Cathal Black

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In February, the IFI hosted a comprehensive retrospective of the work of Cathal Black.

Sunniva O’Flynn Head of Irish Film Programming at the IFI writes “Part of Ireland’s ‘First Wave’ of independent filmmakers in the 1970s and ‘80s, Black began to explore the contradictions, problems and preoccupations within Irish society in a way which hadn’t before been attempted in film. He wanted to “make Irish films for Irish audiences, pictures that are recognisably Irish but stand up to European notions of style . . .  to be truthful to our own visual interpretation of this country and reach Irish audiences our way.”

Black’s narratives of distinctly drawn and wholly sympathetic individuals are often bleak but leavened by dark humour, or historical and enlivened by ingrained and powerful passions. He burrows into the national psyche to find unsettling tales of unease – of alienation, homosexuality, prostitution, emigration, poverty and despair. His characters fight to escape the shibboleths of Ireland’s heroic past and the injustices of its present.

His early films are wrought in a stark, social-realist tone. His later, more generously budgeted 35mm features employ more traditional narrative modes to tell powerful, character-driven period tales. His feature documentaries explore the lives of determinedly off-beat individuals in features that are handsome and revealing. His latest film, Butterfly (in its theatrical premiere), returns to fictional form in a finely acted psychological drama about a young woman avoiding demons from her past.

Cathal Black, activist, Aosdána member and filmmaker, has sustained a visionary cinematic practise for almost 40 years – long may he continue to unsettle and engage.”

Grace Corry talked to Cathal for Film Ireland.
 
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The IFI will present the a complete programme of films directed by Cathal Black (Feb 6th-14th) and an in-depth career-spanning interview hosted by Dr Tony Tracy (NUIG) on February 13th (which includes a screening of his latest film, Butterfly). 

Sunniva O’Flynn, Head of Irish Film Programming says “We are pleased to present Cathal Black’s catalogue in its entirety and to expose audiences to these compelling stories and to the full force of his uncompromising vision which he has sustained for over forty years.”

Black’s narratives of distinctly drawn and wholly sympathetic individuals are often bleak but leavened by dark humour, or historical and enlivened by ingrained and powerful passions. He burrows into the national psyche to find unsettling tales of unease – of alienation, homosexuality, prostitution, emigration, poverty and despair. His characters fight to escape the shibboleths of Ireland’s heroic past and the injustices of its present.

Black has sustained a visionary cinematic practice for almost 40 years, since his directorial debut, Wheels in 1976. This adaptation of John McGahern’s story tells of a young man’s return home to fraught relations with his father on the family farm. Our Boys (1981), though suppressed for many years, is one his best known works. A politically and technically bold film, it exposes the culture of fear and brutality which reigned in Christian Brothers’ institutions for much of the 20th century.

Made during the 1980s recession, Pigs is infused with fury and despair. Jimmy (Jimmy Brennan), a gay man separated from his wife, moves into a crumbling Henrietta Street mansion alongside a host of other misfits. Though relieved by moments of dark comedy, a bleaker vision of urban life had not been seen before in Irish film. Korea, released in 1994, was Black’s second John McGahern adaptation. In Cavan in the 1950s,teenager Eamon (Andrew Scott) has emigration on his mind as he spends his last summer with his father; John Doyle (Donal Donnelly) before leaving home. The film revisits themes of generational conflict and examines the inextricable hold of history on the present.

Love and Rage, released in 1998, was Black’s most stylistically ambitious work to date, with outstanding cinematography of stunning island locations by the Polish master Slawomir Idziak (Three Colours Blue), a big-name cast and a tale that builds to a full-blown Gothic climax. Set at the end of the 19th century on a large estate on Achill Island, Agnes MacDonnell (Greta Scacchi) a tough pipe-smoking, gun-toting English landowner meets her match in the dark, mysterious James Lynchehaun (Daniel Craig). Despite their obvious class and age differences, a passionate and dangerous affair ensues.

Invisible World, released in 1999 is a film which explores the invisible world of healing. It follows Tony Hogan as a child on his journey through illness into health and then later his first tentative steps to become a healer. In 2007, Black created a film that is sensitive, beautiful and, in its own right, a finely crafted piece of poetry: Learning Gravity/The Undertaking  is a film about Thomas Lynch, a Detroit-based mortician who is also an Irishman and when not in the US, Lynch lives in Co. Clare and is a poet and essayist of immense repute. The film is neither morose nor melancholic, but is rich in Lynch’s passion and humour.

As part of the retrospective, the IFI will present the Dublin premiere of Black’s new drama  Butterfly (2015), a taut character study in which Leonard (Denis Conway), a lonely probation officer, estranged from his wife, is faced with the difficult task of writing a report on Teri (Antonia Campbell-Hughes), a mercurial young graphic designer with convictions for minor theft.

SCHEDULE

FEB 6TH (14.00) WHEELS + OUR BOYS

FEB 6TH (15.40) PIGS

FEB 7TH (14.00) KOREA

FEB 10TH (18.30)  BUTTERFLY + INVISIBLE WORLD

FEB 13TH (14.00) IN CONVERSATION – Cathal Black with Dr Tony Tracy followed by screening of BUTTERFLY

FEB 13TH (18.30)  LEARNING GRAVITY / THE UNDERTAKING

FEB 14TH (16.00)  LOVE & RAGE

Tickets for these screenings + Cathal Black in conversation on Feb 13th are available now from the IFI Box Office on 01 679 3477 or online at www.ifi.ie.

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IFI + IMMA Film Series: What We Call Love

Still from 'L’age D’or' Dir: Louis Bunuel / 1930 / 63 minutes / B&W, 35mm
Still from 'Under The Skin' Dir: Jonathan Glazer / 2013 / 108 minutes / Colour, Digital

Saturday 23 & Sunday 24 January 2016, 1.30pm, IFI

IMMA is partnering with the Irish Film Institute on a weekend programme of films selected to respond to IMMA’s current exhibition What We Call Love: From Surrealism to Now. The selected films reflect how the surrealist tradition has incorporated themes of love into their experimental works; from the early days of cinema to the present.

The weekend programme includes a Saturday double bill in original 35mm, and a contemporary work on Sunday in Digital HD.

Film Series Programme Details

Saturday 23 January 2016, 1.30pm, IFI
A short talk from Rachel Thomas (Head of Exhibitions, IMMA) introduces this film series in the context of the IMMA exhibition; What We Call Love: From Surrealism to Now. This will be followed by a Double Bill on 35mm:

Un Chant D Amour (A Song of Love)
Dir: Jean Genet, 1950, 26 minutes, B&W, 35mm

This silent film directed by political and radical gay icon Jean Genet, presents a passionate relationship between inmates, separated from each other by prison walls. A revolutionary vision of emancipation through sensuality, Genet’s only film is a milestone in LGBT filmmaking.

L’Âge d’Or
Dir: Luis Buñuel
, 1930, 63 minutes, B&W, 35mm
In a series of thematically linked vignettes, a couple’s attempts at consummating their relationship are continually thwarted by the bourgeois values and mores of their society. Collaborating with Salvador Dali, Louis Bunuel experimental feature is a classic of the surrealist movement.

Sunday 24 January 2016, 1.30pm, IFI
Under The Skin
Dir: Jonathan Glazer, 2013, 108 minutes, Colour, Digital

An alien has landed in Glasgow. Taking the form of a woman, she drives around the city luring lonely or lecherous men to a grim fate. Social realism and science fiction meld to startling effect in Jonathan Glazer’s hugely inventive third feature, a mesmerising audio visual experience with Scarlett Johansson perfectly cast as the unknowable, predatory being.

Booking Information

Tickets cost €7 per day. €5.50 concession tickets are available for IFI and IMMA members. Tickets are available from www.ifibooking.ie

Exhibition Concessions :: As a film goer you can avail of the concession rate (€5) entry for theWhat We Call Love Exhibition in IMMA on Sat 23 and Sun 24 Jan by presenting your IFI ticket stub or booking confirmation (email or physical ticket).

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Call For: Programme Delivery Officer @ IFI

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The Irish Film Institute wishes to appoint a Programme Delivery Officer to work in their busy Irish Film Programming (IFP) Department on a part-time three year fixed term contract. The successful applicant will have a Film Editing / Post-production qualification; experience in project delivery within tight production deadlines; and a strong interest in Irish Film – both contemporary and archival.

Closing date for applications: 5pm Monday October 26th, 2015

Please send cover letter and CV to jobs@irishfilm.ie

 

Job Description : Programme Delivery Officer

Reporting to:                         Head of Irish Film Programming

Key Relationships:     IFI Director, Head of Irish Film Programming, IFI International Coordinator, IFI Irish Film Archive Staff, Projection Staff, Exhibitors, Filmmakers

Purpose of Role:        To assist the IFI Curator and the IFI International Coordinator in facilitating access to Irish film for Irish and international exhibitors; to deliver programmes of Irish material (both contemporary and archival) for presentation through IFI International , IFI National and other Irish Film Programming strands in IFI and further afield; to provide technical support to the IFP department; to catalogue and maintain IFP collections; to assist with other activities of the IFP Department as required.

 

 

Key Tasks and Responsibilities:

 

Programme Delivery Officer will be responsible for:

 

  • Liaising with IFP colleagues to identify, source, digitise and create Irish film programmes for presentation in IFI and elsewhere.
  • Delivering programmes in a range of formats as required by exhibitors to include digi-beta, Blu-ray, DVD, DCP and other digital formats.
  • Compiling programmes using IFI’s digital editing system
  • Complying with Archive’s Collections Management and Access Procedures
  • Maintenance of IFP Collections Database using Inmagic CS/Textworks 10
  • Liaising with exhibition partners to ensure format and equipment compatibility
  • Liaising with filmmakers to source materials for IFP programme
  • Managing schedule of work in an efficient manner.
  • Identify IFP equipment needs and advising and supporting members of IFP team with their exhibition-related technical requirements.
  • Actively engage with developments in Digital Media Acquisition and Management systems within the Archive, embracing relevant in-house and external training opportunities where appropriate;
  • Contributing to programming activity within IFP Dept. as required
  • Providing administrative support to IFP colleagues as required
  • Communicating formally and informally with IFP, Archive and IFI Projection colleagues to ensure efficient management of activity.

 

Other

  • Promote the IFI’s position as national agency with responsibility for promotion of Irish film through maintenance of excellent standards in film presentation.
  • Maintain a detailed knowledge and understanding of national and international practice in digital editing and best film presentation practise.
  • Contribute to a positive working environment through teamwork, skills sharing and open communication
  • Undertake various administrative duties as required

 

An ideal candidate will have the following skills and experience:

  • A qualification and experience in use of Final Cut Pro, Avid or equivalent filming editing tools
  • Film or Media Studies qualification and/or experience
  • Meticulous organizational skills
  • Good interpersonal skills
  • Strong literacy
  • Familiarity with computer database systems

 

 

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Competition: Win Tickets to ‘Talking to My Father’ + Q&A @ IFI

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Modern architecture in Ireland reached a high point in the early ’60s and one of its most celebrated figures was Robin Walker. Robin studied under Le Corbusier and later worked alongside Mies van der Rohe in Chicago. Upon his return to Ireland he became a key agent in the shaping of the emerging modern nation.

Looking again to Dublin’s streets which he has so faithfully recorded in earlier works (James Gandon, A Life; Alive, Alive Oh!), Sé Merry Doyle follows Simon Walker, a quarter of a century after Robin’s death, as he explores the legacy of his father’s work. The film allows Walker’s buildings to speak for themselves, taking us with Simon in his search for Robin’s architecture of place. (Sunniva O’Flynn).

Talking to My Father is released exclusively at the IFI from Friday, 16th October 2015. Director Sé Merry Doyle will take part in a Q&A after the screening at 18.30 on 16th October.

Thanks to our good friends at the IFI, we have a pair of tickets to give away to Friday’s screening plus Q&A.

To be in with a chance of winning answer the following question:

Complete the title of Sé Merry Doyle’s 2010 documentary:

John Ford – ____________________.

Email your answer to filmireland@gmail.com before 2pm Thursday, 15th October when the Film Ireland Hat will plan, design, and construct a winner.

 

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Documentary Film Making Seminar @ IFI

 

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Irish Film Institute, Eustace St. Dublin 2

10.30-17.30, Friday 9th October 2015

 

“‘Are You Sitting Comfortably?’  Documentary Film Making: Ethics. Platforms. Challenges” is a day-long seminar featuring screenings and discussions chaired by three leading broadcasters; Olivia O’Leary, Miriam O’Callaghan and Keelin Shanley.

 

As the broadcast and funding climate changes, with digital media creating new platforms for documentary journalism, and commercial pressures challenging film-makers in how they fund their work, the Mary Raftery Journalism Fund (MRJF) aims to support journalists and film-makers in ensuring journalistic standards are maintained in this rapidly evolving landscape. The event will provide a unique opportunity for attendees to watch relevant work, gain insights into the challenges today for experienced journalists and documentary film-makers and a chance to examine one’s own practice and ideas in the context of the evolving digital environment.

 

Areas under discussion will include the relationship between the film maker and the subject; ethics around the management of personal material by documentary makers; the ‘authored’ documentary versus agenda led film-making; and an exploration of the opportunities and challenges presented by the rapidly changing digital environment.

 

In the morning there will be an opportunity to see Behind The Walls (2011)  the final documentary series made by Mary Raftery. The screening will be followed by a discussion of the issues raised in the film facilitated by broadcaster and journalist Miriam O’Callaghan.

 

The afternoon will see two panel discussions. The first discussion will be chaired by Olivia O’Leary and participants will include Christopher Hird (Dartmouth Films), Colin Murphy (film-maker / journalist) and Janet Traynor (documentary-maker and journalist).

The second panel discussion be chaired by RTÉ’s Keelin Shanley and will feature Malachy Browne (Reported.ly), Dearbhla Glynn (film-maker), Carl O’Brien (journalist) and Tom Warren (Buzzfeed UK).

 

 

For tickets & event details, see: www.ifi.ie/mrjf. Tickets (€5 per session/€10 for 3 sessions) available from the IFI Box Office on 01-6793477 or www.ifi.ie/mrjf.

 

For further information, see: www.maryrafteryfund.ie

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