The Canal – Review of Irish Film at Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2015

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Ruairí Moore stretches his legs along The Canal, Ivan Kavanagh’s latest nightmare, which screened as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.

So much of what constitutes classic horror is bound up in style and aesthetic – with each successive slasher flick where the order and extent of grotesquery is generally ranked by ethnicity or attractiveness, the gateway to the true shock and awe that horror is capable of providing creaks a little further shut. With The Canal, Ivan Kavanagh plants a foot in the jamb and barrels the door wide open.

A loving father and husband, David (Rupert Evans) is surprised to learn that his new family home was once the scene of a series of horrific murders. Initially dismissive, the mild-mannered film archivist soon begins to question his sanity when the brutal images begin to insinuate themselves among the various aspects of his personal life.

Nothing ground-breaking, but then it is not the plot that will see audiences stuck to their seats. Kavanagh’s love of cinema is immediately evident; the hum of film-reel and the snap-hiss of the projection light are the first images to startle, and it’s a device the director returns to time and time again.

Where much modern horror subsists on jump-scares, The Canal opts for a much more humdrum brand of dread, where the everyday is an invasive force. Sound design is key here, the growl of coat-zippers and the sudden slamming of doors adding a more ominous dimension the haunted-house scenario.

Neither is Kavanagh afraid to let silence and space stretch, favouring largely static cinematography but for the odd tight zoom – the end result is a gathering sense of genuine dread that is a welcome tonic to the flimsy and fleeting hysteria that is the foundation of so much of the genre.

There is much and more that could be said of the cast, but suffice to say that newcomers Kelly Byrne and Calum Heath can’t help but steal the show, particularly in the funny and all-too-brief respites from the unrelenting force that is the rest of the film.

Raw, visceral and atmospheric, The Canal is one of the best horror films to grace Irish screens in far too long a time, and possibly the best these shores have ever produced. For those unmoved by patriotic sycophancies, a decent core workout is promised at the very least.

 

The Canal screened on Saturday, 28th March 2015 at The Light House Cinema as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.

Check out our reviews of the Irish films that screened at this year’s Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.

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InConversation with Grainne Humphries

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This episode of InConversation features Grainne Humphries, Festival Director of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival since 2007.

 

The 2015 Jameson Dublin International Film Festival takes place 19 – 29 March.

 

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You can check out our preview of the Irish films screening at this year’s festival here

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Jameson Dublin International Film Festival Mash-up Trailer

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The programme for the 13th Jameson Dublin International Film Festival was officially launched this week with Jack Reynor and Gerard Barrett in attendance.

 

Take a look at the exclusive mash-up trailer that highlights the films that are showing as part of the festival.

 

 

The 13th Jameson Dublin International Film Festival will take place from the 19th – 29th March 2015. The full programme is now available to view from the festival website jdiff.com

 

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Russell Crowe to Attend Jameson Dublin International Film Festival

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The Jameson Dublin International Film Festival have announced that Russell Crowe’s directorial debut The Water Diviner will screen on Friday, 20th March

 

Academy award winning actor Russell Crowe will attend the festival next month to introduce his new film The Water Diviner and participate in a post-screening Q&A at the Savoy Cinema.

 

Entertainment One’s forthcoming release, The Water Diviner, is a tale of love, faith and heroism. Four years after the devastating battle of Gallipoli in Turkey during World War I, Australian farmer and water diviner Joshua Connor (Russell Crowe) travels to Istanbul to discover the fate of his three sons who enlisted to fight amongst their allies but have been reported as missing in action.

 

When his questions are blocked by military bureaucracy, he’s aided by a beautiful hotel owner (Olga Kurylenko) and then by Major Hassan, a Turkish war hero (Yilmaz Erdogan) who becomes an unlikely ally. As Joshua heads across the tragic, war-torn landscape searching for answers, he struggles to find his own peace but desperately holds onto hope.

 

The 13th Jameson Dublin International Film Festival takes place from 19th – 29th March 2015. The full lineup for the Festival programme will be announced on Wednesday February 25th www.jdiff.com. The Water Diviner will be released in cinemas by Entertainment One on 3rd April 2015.

 

The Water Diviner: The Savoy Cinema | Friday 20 March. Tickets will be officially on sale for this event as of today and can be purchased online http://bit.ly/1McTsGv or www.jdiff.com or at their Box Office which is now open Monday to Friday 11am – 5pm on 13 Lower Ormond Quay. The JDIFF 2015 Season Ticket is currently available to purchase at €245 along limited edition merchandise. Also new this year is the Bring A Friend Season Pass, two season tickets for €425.

 

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JDIFF Review – The Grand Budapest Hotel

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Stacey Grouden checks in to Wes Anderson’s The Budapest Hotel, which had its Irish premiere at the weekend as part of the 12th Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.

 

In an early scene in Wes Anderson’s latest film, a girl admires the stone bust of an author, famous for his book, The Grand Budapest Hotel. Through a series of flashbacks to 1985, 1968 and the 1930s, broken into chapters, we uncover the colourful story of its past, as told by its eccentric owner and former employee, Zero Moustafa (Abraham) to the author of the novel.

The Grand Budapest Hotel, a lush Alpine resort in the fictional European nation of Zubrowka in an alternate 1930s, is run by the gently flamboyant concierge M. Gustave (Fiennes). A hit with the establishment’s more mature female guests, Gustave’s relationship with one particular lady, Madame Desgoffe-und-Taxis (Swinton), comes under close scrutiny when she is murdered and her will bequeaths to him a priceless painting, ‘Boy with Apple.’ Together with his loyal lobby boy, Zero (played as a young man by Tony Revolori), Gustave takes the painting and flees, desperate to clear his name and avoid the same fate as his late former lover.

Fans of Wes Anderson’s characteristic style won’t be disappointed as it retains the same storybook aesthetic for which he has been variously praised and criticised. The characters are lavishly costumed and the world beautifully realised in a series of decadent sets. Similarly, the film is divided into chapters, not only recalling his use of the same technique in The Royal Tenenbaums, but reminding the audience that we are hearing this story from the author, as told by Zero, to the author’s younger self. This structure – a frame within a frame within a frame – is often echoed in the composition, with deep halls, twisting staircases and rows of balconies outlining the characters in action.

But while a common argument about his films is that this quirky, distinctive style comes at the expense of substance, the narrative and thematic content here is deceptively rich. Ostensibly, The Grand Budapest Hotel sees Anderson presenting a postmodern and very entertaining twist on the 1930s-style detective story. But this structure, along with quietly elegant performances by Abraham and Revolori as Zero, see it elevated to a poignant memoir, an ode to times past, and to dearly-departed mentors. This can be seen not only in how the film presents M. Gustave as a long-passed, old-world gentleman, but is also perhaps a nod to old Hollywood, to Hitchcockian escapades on trains, Great Escape-style prison breaks, and the artisanal glamour of a well-designed, densely-detailed set-piece.

But the introspection offered by this many-layered approach would fall flat without the strength of its central performances, and while a number of Anderson’s staple actors make appearances – Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, Adrien Brody, among others – Ralph Fiennes steals the film as M. Gustave H. Achieving the subtle distinction between delivering a huge performance without being over-the-top, Fiennes balances his theatrical gravitas with his rarely-executed gift for comedy, making it impossible to imagine anyone else in the role. Just like a concierge, his performance adapts to every new situation with aplomb and never misses a beat.

Lively, but with moments of unexpected darkness, tension, and poignancy, The Grand Budapest Hotel is well worth a visit.

Click here for further coverage from the 12th Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.

 

 

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Interview: Dawid Ogrodnik

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Anna Pospieszynska met with Polish actor Dawid Ogrodnik, who stars in Pawel Pawlikowski’s Ida and the inspiring Life Feels Good by Maciej Pieprzyca, both of which are screening as part of the 12th Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.

Irish audiences will have a chance to dive into two beautifully crafted stories, which are great examples of the “journey” cinema, so intensely focused on self-discovery and pursuit of a character’s own identity. So lets start from the beginning and your journey into acting.

My road has led me to confrontation with myself and defining what I want and how I can get there. I realised I had to stake everything on one card to reach my goals. Undoubtedly, it was a very difficult decision to make, particularly if you are 12 years old. Nevertheless, there was that nagging feeling of something awaiting me and I did need to see it. So I sold everything I owned and left thome to realize my dreams. There was definitely a lot of luck involved as I met many really good people on my journey, first in music and then at acting school. As a result of my decisions, I am here. The funny thing is that even now my intuition tells me there is more for me to discover so I needed to keep moving ahead.

Every journey might make you weary. Could you count on an emotional boost to push you forward?

I think each project I got involved in drove me significantly forward. Definitely one of the first key people I met was the director Leszek Dawid with whom I worked  on I am the God (Jestem Bogiem). Thanks to him I learned to be honest with the camera and that to pretend emotions is your worst enemy.  You have to really feel it regardless of how many times you have played it. Never try to ‘rewind’ feelings, as you would lose your realness.  Life Feels Good, with Maciej Pieprzyca, was the biggest challenge of my life and taught me a lot about humility and helped me see an actor’s work from a different perspective. Suddenly you dedicate your whole life to one project and it becomes your objective.

You have been presented as an actor who fishes for roles of the outsider, which places you in the great company of Dustin Hoffman, Johnny Depp or Christian Bale. At the same time it requires a lot of effort, time and energy. What makes them so appealing?

It is both challenging and inspirational. After some point you realize that the brain acts as an extremely absorbent sponge. It enables you to readjust and engage with a huge variety of elements and particulars, which brings you eventually to the stage of metamorphosing into a character you are to play. And this is what fascinates me in this job. On the one hand it creates a comfort zone as you are creating a persona you have nothing in common with in real life. On the other, there is a danger of the pastiche and grotesque sneaking into your work if you do not do it right. It is a risk you need to take but you need to get ready and be responsible for all pros and cons that go with it.

Looking at your character in Ida, I see his symbolic weight that enriches the life of Anna, the female protagonist. Like metaphysical doors, she has to enter through them to continue her path to self-discovery and change. How did getting involved in this movie transform your life?

The script was one of the reasons why I decided to take part in it.  Then there was my love of the saxophone and music. As the movie takes place in the ’60s, it was a very special time for Jazz, especially on the Polish scene. The director, Pawel Pawlikowski, wanted the soundtrack to reflect the movie’s ambience, which just added extra value to the project. In regards to my character, there was nothing extreme about him. However, what mesmerized me was the inner world he shared with the Anna, expressed by gestures, tunes and a desire to find an understanding, kindred spirit.

Polish Cinema is showing a new face, highlighting its more universal line of storytelling. We can see it in freshly produced pictures, such as Life Feels Good, Imagine and Lasting’ As a young actor attending international film festivals, how would you describe the audience’s reactions to this change? And what else would you like to see?

It is a very interesting direction. You can see how well received our movies were in 2013 and how many festivals have already included them, e.g. Montreal, Berlin, or even now in Dublin. I believe it is just the beginning. We might lack a directing personality that is not afraid of pushing it forward and embracing all new elements and themes that this trend can offer but we are definitely getting there. Also in terms of acting, Polish Cinema is very much rooted in a script which can focus on following a word-by-word structure, which definitely keeps us different, and it is great. However, maybe there should be just a bit more space for improvisation. You can see in American films that many directors give actors more freedom. Of course you don’t want to have it overdone across many scenes as often happens in such movies, but it might give us an opportunity to react to some situations more organically. Plus, we shouldn’t be afraid of experimenting as well as introducing new topics. Film is a limitless form of art and shouldn’t be confined or restricted by social taboos or difficult subjects such as homosexuality or transsexuality. I hope one day our cinema will be full of amazing scripts that give us a breath of fresh air, directed by young minds behind the camera, ready to steer us to new cinematic waters.

Click here for further coverage from the 12th Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.

The 12th Jameson Dublin International Film Festival runs 13 – 23 February 2014,


 

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JDIFF 2014: Irish Film Preview – Irish Short Film

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Friday, 14th Feb 2014

Light House Cinema @ 6:30PM

JDIFF presents another hand-picked selection of the best Irish shorts.

Breakfast Wine
Director: Ian Fitzgibbon
Writer: Kevin Barry
Running Time: 11 minutes
They say it takes just three alcoholics to keep a small bar running in a country town, but what if you’ve only got two?

Atrophy
Director: Mairtín de Barra
Writer: Matthew Roche
Running Time: 13 minutes
Atrophy examines the sacrifices made in the name of development, and the effect they have upon people. A tale of old versus new, loss, friendship and an old farmer and his dog…

Rúbaí
Director: Louise Ni Fhiannachta
Writer: Anton Beag Ó Colla
Running Time: 11 minutes
The First Holy Communion is fast approaching but as an atheist, eight-year-old Rúbaí refuses to be a part of it. Rúbaí faces emotional blackmail, religious and philosophical debate and out and out intolerance in today’s supposedly diverse and modern Ireland.

Morning
Director: Cathy Brady
Writer: Cathy Brady, Sarah Woolner
Running Time: 20 minutes
Mary wakes up on the sofa with a banging headache. Her morning routine is broken by a persistent reporter.

Uisce Beatha
Director: Shaun O’Connor
Writer: Tadhg Hickey
Running Time: 8 minutes
Set in 1912, Uisce Beatha is the true story of Tom, a young man who leaves his home in rural Ireland to cross the ocean on the ill-fated Titanic. But a night of celebration beforehand results in a twist that will affect Tom’s fate drastically…

The Ledge End of Phil (From Accounting)
Writer-director: Paul Ó Muiris
Running Time: 6 minutes
Stuck outside looking in, Phil is forced to face the world he’s been ignoring. Now he must take a leap of faith or be trapped forever.

Mechanic
Writer-directors: Tom Sullivan, Feidlim Cannon
Running Time: 15 minutes
A mechanic at the end of his tether finds solace in old age…

4 Bhanríon
Director: Vittoria Colonna
Writers: Vittoria Colonna, Eoin Rogers
Running Time: 15 minutes
4 Bhanríon (4 Queens) is a black comedy about four elderly sisters who play a game of poker to decide who will take care of their elderly mother.

 

Director: Various

Duration: 99 minutes

Tickets are available to book from Filmbase or online here

Check out the rest of our previews of Irish films screening at this year’s festival.

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JDIFF 2013: West of Memphis

Gordon Gaffney on the latest ‘West Memphis 3’ documentary West of Memphis, which screened as part of the 11th Jameson Dublin International Film Festival (14-24 February 2013).

West of Memphis
Friday, 22nd February
Cineworld 11
18.00
147 mins

The documentary trilogy Paradise Lost dealt with the grisly murders of three 8-year-old boys in West Memphis, Arkansas, in 1993, the trial and conviction of three teenagers for the killings, and the subsequent doubts raised of their guilt.

With a combined running time of 5 hours, and directed by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky of Metallica documentary(and inadvertent comedy) Some Kind Of Monster fame, they were screened on HBO in 1996 and 2000. Part 3 was also released in cinemas in 2011 and went on to earn an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary in 2012.

Now we have what could be considered a fourth part. West of Memphis is directed by Amy Berg, best known for the harrowing sex abuse doc Deliver Us From Evil, but its producers have close ties to the grisly events of 1993.  Berg, and her producers, wisely spend as little time as possible going over the events from 1993 to about 2010, perhaps aware that not many people will wonder into theatres expecting an Elvis Presley biopic. Paradise Lost is acknowledged early on preparing the viewer for never-before-seen material.

Some of this new material is explosive, delving extensively into the background of ‘You-Know-Who’, which, perhaps coincidentally, led to a couple of walk-outs in my row at the screening.  The Paradise Lost series stirred many celebrities into fighting the West Memphis 3’s cause,  in particular Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder and Peter Jackson who both feature heavily here.

An infuriating jaw-dropping work, one gets the feeling that this is not the end of documentaries on this subject. The four films have a total running time of seven and half hours and as Will Ferrell’s James Lipton would say ‘If you haven’t seen it, rent it, watch it, put it in a locked cabinet for a year, then watch it again, it will change.. your …life.’

Gordon Gaffney

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