The Jameson Founded in 2003, the Dublin International Film Festival sets the agenda of the year with its programme of outstanding Irish and international film. officially launched last night, announcing 138 films to be shown at venues across the city for 11 days at the end of March.
Among those 138 are 17 Irish feature films and 4 shorts, with the first, Mary McGuckian’s The Price of Desire, opening the festival on March 19th. This is an unusual Irish biopic in that it is set in France, and tells the controversial story of how Swiss-French architect/designer Le Corbusier effaced and defaced Eileen Gray’s moral right to be recognised as the author of her work and as one of the most forceful and influential inspirations of a century of modern architecture and design. Orla Brady stars in the leading role, with support from Vincent Perez, Francesco Scianna
Saturday March 21st brings two more Irish films, documentary Coming Home and horror From the Dark. Viko Nikci’s Coming Home is the story of Angel Cordero, a man who has served 13 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. It won Best Irish Feature Documentary Award and Amnesty International Award for Best Human Rights Documentary at last year’s Galway Film Fleadh. From the Dark is the latest from Conor McMahon, director of cult horror movie Stitches, centres on a young couple on a road trip through the Irish countryside who encounter an ancient force of evil. The film stars Niamh Algar, Stephen Cromwell, Gerry O’Brien, and Ged Murray.
The Irish film on Sunday is a very timely affair. Eat Your Children follows friends and filmmakers Treasa O’Brien and Mary Jane O’Leary, who were among the many Irish who emigrated following the financial crisis of 2008. Now back home they probe Ireland’s so-called acceptance of debt and austerity.
These are followed on Monday, March 23rd by Tadhg O’Suliivan’s newest documentary. From Europe’s edges, The Great Wall moves across various unidentified fortified landscapes, pausing with those whose lives are framed by borders and walls. Moving inward toward the seat of power, the film holds the European project up to a dazzling cinematic light, refracted through Kafka’s mysterious text (At the Building of the Great Wall of China), ultimately questioning the nature of power within Europe and beyond.
Tuesday brings us Sé Merry Doyle’s crowdfunded documentary Talking To My Father, and Liv Ullman’s adaptation of Miss Julie. Talking To My Father features two voices from two eras each concerned with how we as a nation understand the architecture that surrounds our lives, and focuses on the work of Robin Walker. Miss Julie on the other hand is based on the play of the same title by August Strindberg and starring Jessica Chastain, Colin Farrell and Samantha Morton. It tells the story of the daughter of an Anglo-Irish aristocrat who attempts to seduce her father’s valet in 1890’s Fermanagh.
On Wednesday the festival brings the modest All About Eva, the story of a resilient and alluring young female jockey, who infiltrates the stables of Pope Healy, a wealthy racing magnate. Commissioned by Kildare County Council and shot on location in Athy, it is directed by Ferdia Mac Anna and stars Sue Walsh, Liam Quinlivan, and Jill Bradbury.
Thursday, March 26th, brings two more features as BAFTA-nominated filmmaker Daisy Asquith explores her family’s painful Irish heritage in this moving documentary about her mother’s adoption in After the Dance, and Vivienne De Courcy’s Dare To Be Wild grace the screens. Dare To Be Wild is a contemporary romantic adventure that tells the true story of Mary Reynolds, a gifted landscape designer who challenges teh establishment at the Chelsea Flower Show. The film stars Emma Greenwell, Tom Hughes, and Séainín Brennan.
There are four Irish films on Friday, with documentary Tana Bana from Pat Murphy, Let Us Prey, the feature directorial debut of Brian O’Malley, Rouzbeh Rashidi’s experimental Ten Years in the Sun, and Glassland, the second feature from Gerard Barrett which recently won a special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. Tana Bana is focuses on the Muslim silk weavers of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, who after 2000 years working their trade, spinning, dyeing and weaving beautiful silk saris on simple wooden looms, face extinction from computerisation. Let Us Prey is an acclaimed Irish horror, starring Liam Cunningham, Pollyanna McIntosh, and Bryan Larkin, that follows a mysterious stranger in a remote police station who takes over the minds and souls of everyone. Ten Years in the Sun sees Rashidi continue his method of eschewing traditional narrative, in favour of the poetic interaction of sound, image and atmosphere, to create visually and sonically hypnotic films. And Glassland, which shared Best Irish Feature at last year’s Galway Film Fleadh finally comes to Dublin with Jack Reynor as a young taxi driver coping with an alcoholic mother in contemporary Tallaght.
Finally, the second last day of the festival, Saturday March 28th, brings three more Irish films, in Tadgh O’Sullivan and Feargal Ward’s Yximalloo, Joe Lee’s Wheel of Fortune: The Story and Legacy of the Fairview Lion Tamer, and Ivan Kavanagh’s The Canal. Yximalloo is a unique observational documentary exploring the difficult life and obscure work of the cult Japanese musician of the same name. The film won the Prix Premier for first feature at FiD Marseille in 2014. Wheel of Fortune is also a documentary based on Bill Stephens, an ordinary young man in 1950s Ireland with an extraordinary ambition: to become an international circus star. Or more specifically a lion-tamer! As you do. Last, but not least, is The Canal. This immersive horror has been gathering great acclaim from international audiences, and returns home to scare the locals. The film stars Rupert Evans as a father investigating a horrific murder that took place in his home in the early 1900s.
Tickets can be bought now from the JDIFF Website.