We were delighted to partner with Dublin International Film Festival (DIFF) and work with the YIFM Young Film Critics as they enjoy this year’s programme. Here are their reviews on some of this year’s films. 


Dear Jassi

Fionn O’Mahony shares his insights at Dear Jassi:

After taking an eight-year hiatus from the big screen, and lending his directorial hand with a modern day television prequel series set before the events of The Wizard of Oz somewhere in between, Tarsem Singh returns with his adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. In this iteration of Shakespeare’s tragedy, 14th century Verona is swapped with the Punjab of 1996 and our star-crossed lovers take the form of Mithu, a lower-class rickshaw driver and the woman who immediately falls for him, Jassi, who is completely smitten after watching his performance in a game of Kabaddi. During an arranged meeting, the first obstacle in an ocean of debris that insists on estranging the couple is introduced, as it is revealed that Jassi lives in Canada and is only temporarily visiting her cousins in India.

Distance is only one of the factors separating the central lovers. Instead of a longstanding familial feud, the division between the two is largely due to class. Jassi’s family will never accept Mithu, as they consider him an illiterate proletarian boy unworthy of her love. Mithu also faces a multitude of barriers due to his societal status, as he struggles to get a visa and his attempts at finding a reliable booking agent prove to be futile. Mithu and Jassi may be a world away from one another with limited means of contact, however their plights are juxtaposed through some clever editing and cinematography, as sweeping camera pans are deployed during their phone calls, intercut with the events occurring in their respective areas captured by the same technique, creating a constant motion that eventually brings the doomed lovers closer to their cruel fate.

Dear Jassi may lack the fairytale-like grandeur of Singh’s 2006 film The Fall, or the epic and fantastical scale of his 2011 mythological effort Immortals, but the sombre tone of the film buttresses the fact that the events that are unfolding on screen are based on a true story. Singh certainly encapsulates this unfortunate and harrowing tale and transforms it into a cinematic spectacle–which can either be seen as one of the film’s strengths or one of its pitfalls–despite it not possessing the more magical elements of some of his earlier works. While it still boasts the vibrant colours that the rest of his oeuvre is known for, one cannot help but notice the sense of rage that emanates from the film. The frustration is aimed at the societal blockades that prevent Mithu and Jassi from having a happy life together, from the portrayal of Jassi’s extended family and the authority figures to the inevitable devastating final act. Before the credits begin to roll, our Bulleh Shah quoting narrator informs us that the real life families affected did not receive justice until almost twenty years later, and he implores us to research the case.


Red Rooms

Chloe O’Malley turns her eye to Red Rooms

Pascal Plante’s Red Rooms is a thriller that pulled off something not many can boast, breaking the separation between the world of the plot and the real world. And even the word breaking is an understatement! Its unflinching approach towards the dark web and that little bit of curiosity we all get for big crime cases paired with a terrifyingly subtle and powerful performance by Juliette Gariépy and stunning visuals creates a rooted-in-reality narrative; that will spook even an avid horror and true crime watcher like myself.

The first few moments establish Kelly-Anne (Juliette Gariépy) as a curious personality when she swiftly goes from sleeping on the streets to passing through courthouse security in formalwear to us later learning she’s a model. Juliette’s choice to portray the character with the same, emotionally distant demeanour as Ludovic Chevalier, who is on trial for three brutal murders that were also live streamed on the dark web, giving the movie its easily memorable title. Kelly-Anne, with no actual connection to the trial, becomes more and more obsessed with the case, akin to anyone who finds themselves drawn further into researching famous cold and ongoing true crime cases. Except there is something about the character that almost feels insane from this baseless interest.

However, for the duration of the film there is an uneasy and disturbing atmosphere, which is only amplified by the slow movement of the camera, the darkness in a vast majority of the scenes and a use of real world names, places and entities. Things mentioned in the courtroom scenes such as the existence of red rooms or The Onion Router network and the mention of bitcoin, online gambling, home assistants powered by artificial reality and smart homes keep the story relevant and grounded in Quebec in the present day. There is no way to distinguish what could or could not be real in Red Rooms. And because of this, the film is incredibly impressive and of course, terrifying and keeps the audience on edge throughout.

While, justifiably, the thriller genre is not for everyone, the film is phenomenal and is in particular one anyone who can stand the content or anyone who can appreciate the attention to particular detail needs to see on the big screen. It’s unpredictable, visually stunning, memorable and engaging, from the first frame to the last.


Mami Wata

Pia Roycroft looks at Mami Wata:

Mami Wata (2023) directed by C.J. ‘Fiery’ Obasi is a film like no other. Set in the traditionalist village of Iyi where Mama Efe (Rita Edochie) is the villages’ Intermediary between them and the titular goddess Mami Wata, Efe struggles with not only the loss of her powers alongside conflict within the village, but also friction within her own family unit. It is up to her two daughters, Zinwe (Uzoamaka Aniunoh) and Prisca (Evelyne Ily Juhen) to not only help their home and people but also mend their broken relationship through the act of discovering their true selves and redefining what identity really is not only for themselves but the audience too.

Though it is folkloric and fantastical, the film focuses on issues that are very real. Not only is it a film about the bond of family, there is also an underlying commentary on the societal prejudice and hardships of living as a woman in a society where men have a lot of power. As well as this, it speaks about the struggle of living traditionally in a modern society alongside colonialism, the connections between culture and identity and potential loss thereof.

It does all of these things in a very unique and interesting way, through a great story, beautiful camerawork courtesy of cinematographer Lílis Soares, a fantastic soundtrack by Tunde Jegede and the wonderful production design from Obasi himself. All of these aspects paired with the amazing performances from the cast, particularly the portrayals of the two sisters, make the film into a great watch that has you intrigued, entertained, and full of emotions throughout.

It is no surprise that the film won the World Cinema Cinematography Award at Sundance, as it is more than deserving of such praise. I definitely recommend it as though there are significant references and influences from other films, Mami Wata is one of a kind.

Dear Jassi, Red Rooms and Mami Wata all screened at DIFF 2024. The Young Critics course is run by Young Irish Film Makers in partnership with the festival.  Visit YIFM.com for more information about this training programme. 


Gemma Creagh is a writer, filmmaker and journalist. In 2014 she graduated with a First from NUIG’s MA Writing programme. Gemma’s play Spoiling Sunset was staged in Galway as part of the Jerome Hynes One Act Play series in 2014. Gemma was one of eight playwrights selected for AboutFACE’s 2021 Transatlantic Tales and is presently developing a play with the Axis Theatre and with the support of the Arts Council. She has been commissioned to submit a play by Voyeur Theatre to potentially be performed in Summer 2023 as part of the local arts festival. Gemma was the writer and co-producer of the five-part comedy Rental Boys for RTÉ’s Storyland. She has gone on to write, direct and produce shorts which screened at festivals around the world. She was commissioned to direct the short film, After You, by Filmbase and TBCT. Gemma has penned articles for magazines, industry websites and national newspapers, she’s the assistant editor for Film Ireland and she contributes reviews to RTE Radio One’s Arena on occasion.

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