Review of Irish Film @ DIFF 2019: Dub Daze

Dakota Heveron reviews Shane J. Collins’ take on modern Dublin in his comedy-drama feature, Dub Daze

Director Shane J. Collins has hit the ground running with his first feature length film Dub Daze, which premiered at the Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival on Saturday. There couldn’t have been a better place for it, as it became clear right from the opening scenes that the film was an open and honest love letter to Dublin, written by one of the city’s own.

The film weaves together three discrete but connected narratives of young adults all trying to make a place for themselves in the city, each faced with their own particular obstacles. Dan (Ethan Dillon) and Baz (Sam Lucas Smith) are two friends looking for a way to celebrate their last day of school, but Baz’s recklessness ends up getting them in trouble with a local drug dealer named Petal (Clide Delaney). Sean (Shane Robinson) and Jack (Nigel Brennan) are medical students from Cork looking for a place to stay in Dublin. Sean is quickly accepted by a group of well-off Irish students who make Jack the butt of their ‘fresh off the tractor” jokes, causing Sean to question just where his loyalties lie. Fiona (Leah Moore) has dreams of making it as a musician, but she is forced to contend not only with Dublin’s cutthroat music scene, but also her father’s alcoholism.

It is to the film’s credit that despite the multiple plotlines and numerous characters scattered across its landscape, it manages to avoid becoming confusing or convoluted. The characters are so distinct and well-formed that we as the audience always know exactly who we’re with. This is due in large part to the film’s editing (done by Collins himself), as well as the incredible talent of its cast. There is nothing exaggerated or put-on in the actors’ deliveries; their performances are down to earth and strikingly realistic.

There are moments when the film itself feels like one long session, an unpredictable and turbulent night out in Dublin, punctuated by genuinely poignant moments that emphasize the incredibly three-dimensional emotions and realism of the characters. Scoring this night out is a well-chosen mix of songs largely featuring Irish musicians including Bantum, Majestic Bears, Indian, and This Side Up.

Also central to the film is of course Dublin itself. Dub Daze is clearly a labour of love, and Dublin is the focal point of its affection, the camera lingering just as lovingly on a graffitied wall as it does on the Samuel Beckett Bridge. The film makes a point to bring together its three narratives, connecting the city’s north, south, and center. There is a sense of intimacy in this connectedness, and in the consistent banter and comradery between its characters, painting the picture of a city where, despite its urbanity, ‘everyone knows each other’.

Deadly.

 

Dub Daze screened on Saturday, 23rd February as part of the Dublin International Film Festival (20th February – 3rd March 2019).

 

Shane J. Collins, Writer/Director of ‘Dub Daze’

 

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Strong Irish Line-up @ ADIFF 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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ADIFF Irish Film Review: Sing Street

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Ailbhe O’ Reilly sings along to John Carney’s Sing Street, which opened this year’s Audi Dublin International Film Festival.

You could be mistaken for thinking that John Carney’s latest film Sing Street is essentially pitched as High School Musical set in Dublin in the ’80s.  Not exactly the premise of a great film, but you would be wrong as the movie is a real gem.

Carney has already gotten some notice for the low budget Once and the more mainstream film Begin Again – both of which I liked, but I believe that Sing Street is his best yet. The cast of mainly unknowns – apart from the lead Cosmo’s parents played by Aidan Gillen and Maria Doyle Kennedy and his brother Jack Reynor (in a truly awful wig!) – rise to the task and give the film a naturalism that is rare in musicals.

The lead Cosmo (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) and his friend Eamon (Mark McKenna) are particularly strong as the film’s Lennon and McCarthy – with some beautiful song writing scenes that are becoming a staple in Carney’s films.

The story follows Cosmo as he is forced to move to an inner city school, Synge Street CBS, when his parents are experiencing money problems. As with all coming-of-age stories, there is of course a girl that Cosmo wants to impress, so he then naively decides to form a band with his school mates in order to woo her.

What makes Sing Street unique and gets the audience on side is that Carney doesn’t forget he is in Dublin in the ’80s, it is unpretentious and the director uses the Irish sense of humour to great effect. There are many laugh out loud moments poking fun at the decade’s style, the fickle lives of teenagers and the awkwardness of adolescent’s love lives.

The film is also more realistic than most musicals as the issues of school bullying, cruel teachers and family problems are all dealt with as part of teenage life.

The film’s soundtrack is brilliant and you will find yourself toe tapping throughout to both the original score and eighties hits.

Sing Street has a great pace and a fantastic climax that will find you leaving the cinema smiling after a truly excellent Irish film. Carney is going from strength to strength and Hollywood is beginning to take notice.

 

 

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

Irish films at ADIFF

 

 

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What We Webbed

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Screen Daily takes a look at the Irish Film Industry

A wave of local filmmaking talent, ambitious producers and attractive co-production options are helping Ireland shine on the world stage.

 

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Queen for a Day: Sandra Bernhard Looks Back on The King of Comedy

On April 27, the Tribeca Film Festival (whose founders include Robert. De Niro) showed a newly restored version of  The King of Comedy, which was presented as the festival’s closing-night selection.  Ms. Bernhard spoke to ArtsBeat about her experiences making the film.

 

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A Century of Cinema

An essay by Susan Sontag about the decline of the cinema.

Click on the title to read the read the articles

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'The Guard' is second at the US Box Office!!!….sort of

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Element Pictures The Guard phenomenal success continues as it comes second at the US Box Office in average revenue per screen in its opening weekend, trouncing blockbuster new releases such as Cowboys & Aliens and The Smurfs.

The Guard took in $80,400 across 4 screens according to www.boxofficemojo.com for an average of $20,100 per screen,  Joe Cornish’s (Joe from comedy duo Adam and Joe) sci-fi comedy Attack the Block also out on limited release in the US this week achieved $130,000 across 8 screen for $16,250 per screen. Topping the average revenue per screen chart this past weekend is The Future directed by Miranda July taking in an impressive $28,200 on its single screen.

All three films put Cowboys & Aliens to shame as it took in a measly $9,653 per screen but a respectable $36,200,000 in total.

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A Response to 'What’s to Love about Irish Film?'

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Díóg O’Connell responds to Ferdia Mac Anna’s article insisting that there is indeed alot to like about Irish Film.

When the Irish Film Board was re-activated in 1993/94 at the start of the Celtic Tiger years, Ireland had a challenging game of catch-up to play. Unlike most European countries whose film production was supported through public and private funds throughout the twentieth century, Ireland had little resembling a film culture. Many of our European neighbours experienced national movements of political cinema, short lived in many cases but having far reaching impacts as they hit a nerve at a critical historical moment (German Expressionism, Italian Neorealism, French New wave etc.), an experience denied to Ireland due to an absence of wider infrastructure. The state ran scared of film culture for fear of offending the Catholic Church, failing to put any supports in place for indigenous film while at the same time, eager to support big Hollywood productions so as not to offend the Americans.

The response to film culture since the foundation of the state was split between censorship on the one hand, to that of creaming off any economic benefit of off-shore productions, regardless of how these films portrayed the Irish. Aside from sporadic film activity in the 1970s and 1980s by notable directors such as Joe Comerford, Pat Murphy, Cathal Black, Bob Quinn and Thaddeus O’Sullivan, there was little to call Irish cinema.

With the reactivation of the Irish Film Board, following the successes of Jim Sheridan and Neil Jordan on the international stage, Irish cinema was given a badly needed infusion. To expect, in a few short years, Irish film to do what other national cinemas managed in over a century, suggests a misplaced ambition that got us into serious trouble elsewhere. Instead, assessing Irish film over the past fifteen years as part of a developing film culture may answer some questions about its well being.

Distinctive narrative phases can be identified reflecting on the one hand the organic development and evolution of an industry forced to play catch up with other national cinemas, alongside the actively shaped approach, ideologically inspired and managed through policy decisions at Film Board level. The first phase of film up until the late 1990s saw the familiar and traditional themes retold. After a hiatus of seven years when the first Film Board had been cut off at the throat, a number of national themes, sometimes referred to as the ‘Holy Trinity’ of the Catholic Church, rural Ireland and the Troubles, needed to work their way through the national system (Broken Harvest, Maurice O’Callaghan 1994; Bogwoman, Tom Collins 1997; Nothing Personal, Thaddeus O’Sullivan 1995; A Further Gesture, Robert Dorhhelm 1996; Some Mother’s Son, Terry Gorge 1996; The Boxer, Jim Sheridan 1998), not really a surprise given the vacuum of film production in Ireland since 1987. Representations of repressed sexuality (Circle of Friends, Pat O’Connor 1995, Gold in the Streets, Liz Gill 1996) begin to fizzle out at the end of this phase particularly evident when compared with the types of films to emerge subsequently (About Adam, Gerry Stembridge, 2001; When Brendan met Trudy, Kieron J. Walsh 2001; Goldfish Memory, Liz Gill, 2003), signalling a shift, post-1998 in the direction of more progressive themes, situated mainly in an urban milieu. This second phase, following changes to IFB script development policy, experienced a dominant trend towards genre production – romantic comedies, thrillers and horror movies (Dead Meat, Conor McMahon 2004; Boy Eats Girl, Stephen Bradley 2005; Perrier’s Bounty, Ian Fitzgibbon 2009) as Irish filmmakers looked towards more mainstream international films as models.

Remember the thrill attached to seeing an Irish film in the cinema alongside other genre productions, films that didn’t feature green fields and lashings of rain as the dominant iconography. Maybe they weren’t the most polished of narrative forms, but they certainly gave a breath of fresh air to the perceived nature of ‘Irish film’.

2001 is documented as a record year for Irish films with nine films being released in Irish cinemas. Clarence Pictures, Buena Vista International and Abbey Pictures accounted for the release of eight of the films funded by the Board. While the shift towards script development may account partly for increased exhibition rates, the launch of Clarence Pictures and Abbey Pictures (Irish distribution companies) and the development of Buena Vista International focussing on Irish productions at this time meant increased opportunities for Irish films to progress towards box office release and DVD/video distribution.

Clearly film production doesn’t occur in a vacuum and to develop as a cultural form, space, time and support systems are required. Since 2005, the scripts produced have been more eclectic in style, less generically formulaic and often displays an auteur stamp (Adam & Paul, Lenny Abrahamson 2004; Garage, Lenny Abrahamson 2007; Once, John Carney 2007; His & Hers, Ken Wardrop 2009; Savage, Brendan Muldowney 2009), and produced on very low budgets. These films have not only struck a nerve with the audience but are generally critically acclaimed, not just in niche film festival auditoria.

I reckon there’s a lot to like about Irish film and I suspect if the pattern continues, there will be more. The diversity across films such as I Went Down (Paddy Breathnach, 1997), How Harry Became a Tree (Goran Paskaljevic, 2001), Nora (Pat Murphy, 2000), The Most Fertile Man in Ireland (Dudi Appleton, 1999), Disco Pigs (Kirsten Sheridan, 2001) and A Man of No Importance (Suri Krishnamma, 1994) to name but a few reveals an assorted mix. There was a time when a universal groan would echo around the lecture hall when you mentioned Irish film. Now students of the subject have their favourites and their allergies but they are not indifferent. And because they have grown up with seeing mainstream and genre Irish film in their local cinemas, there is a renewed curiosity about older Irish films, often concerned with the ‘Holy Trinity’. Rather than seeing ‘Irish film’ as one size that fits all, when viewed up close there is a diversity and range warranting a second look.

Díóg O’Connell

Díóg O’Connell is a lecturer in Film & Media Studies at IADT, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin. She completed her PhD in 2005 entitled ‘Narrative Strategies in Contemporary Irish Cinema 1993-2003’ and has published articles and critical reviews on this period. Her book, New Irish Storytellers: Narrative Strategies in Film is published by Intellect, 2010.

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Issue 114 – The Rise and Rise of the Irish Short

An Gaeilgeoir Nocht
An Gaeilgeoir Nocht

Rebecca Kemp takes a look at the Irish language’s most prolific calling card.

The short form has experienced a renaissance of late, with festivals giving it greater attention and the press more column inches. This is due in no small way to the increased accessibility of the genre, cheaper and easier to use equipment, wider exhibition opportunities presented by the internet, and the ability to download onto portable devices. As a champion of the low budget and experimental, the Irish film industry is producing more films in this form than ever before. An Irish short even won an Oscar in 2006, Martin McDonagh’s Six Shooter.

Cheap and quick
With the short form appealing to most filmmakers’ modest budgets and audiences’ ever decreasing attention span, making shorts in the Irish language has never been more popular. One could go so far as to say that the Irish-language short has eclipsed its feature equivalent in gaining international recognition and in becoming the primary medium in which Irish-language films are currently being made. Shorts are responsible for pushing the genre further in terms of subject matter and production, and have become an important platform on which to expose the Irish language to a non-Gaelic speaking audience.

Does this mark a new dawn for Irish filmmakers, or is it still a case of filling out a form and making a film that fulfils funding criteria? Do critics have a point that many films are made that have no basis in the Irish language, but are simply script translations done to qualify for funding? Others may rightly complain that many films are made by people who don’t understand Irish and disregard the nuances of regional dialects and colloquialisms.

The full article is printed in Film Ireland 114.

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