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.”




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.


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


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.


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)


Niall McCann’s ‘Lost in France’ @ IFI


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.


Irish Film Review: Pushtar


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



Competition: Win Tickets to ‘Pushtar’


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



IFI Irish Focus: Director Alan Lambert on ‘Pushtar’



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