Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2011

If there’s one festival more than any other that I’ve attended in recent years, it’s the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival. I went along to the launch event on Tuesday evening in Tripod to get the lowdown. Running from the 17th – 27th February, the 2011 programme features over 130 screenings plus a myriad of special events, panel discussions, public interviews and industry masterclasses. It’s a tribute to the hard work of the festival team and sponsors that they’ve managed to pull together one of the best lineups the festival has ever seen. It’s even more of an an achievement when funding for the arts has been hit as much as it has over the past year couple of years.

Launching the festival programme were award-winning actors Maura Tierney (ER, Liar Liar), who is currently in Dublin for rehearsals of God of Carnage at The Gate Theatre, and Charlene McKenna (Raw, Dorothy Mills). The festival opens strongly with a debut Gala Screening of Richard Ayoade’s (The IT Crowd, The Mighty Boosh) Submarine. Audiences will also be treated to a succession of Irish premieres, including: George Nolfi’s action-packed The Adjustment Bureau starring Matt Damon; Emilio Estevez’s second film starring Martin Sheen, The Way; the tense thriller Unknown, starring Liam Neeson and Aidan Quinn; Irish film Wake Wood from the legendary Hammer Films starring Aidan Gillen, Eva Birthistle and Timothy Spall; Ken Loach’s thriller Route Irish, set on the most dangerous road in Iraq, and his son Jim Loach’s first feature Oranges and Sunshine as well as two of the shortlisted films for best foreign language Oscar, Incendies (Canada) and Life, Above All (South Africa).

Brand new for 2011 is the Jameson Cult Film Club, a series of special screenings which take place in unexpected non-cinema locations. First up is Bryan Singer’s The Usual Suspects with none other than Oscar winning star Kevin Spacey flying in to discuss the film. Details for the screening will be posted on the JDIFF Facebook page so keep your eyes peeled.

Supporting Irish film is an integral part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival, and this year the Irish programme includes 18 new features and documentaries and 20 short films. The 2011 Irish Talent Spotlight casts its gaze on the work of director Juanita Wilson, animator David O’Reilly and actor Aiden Gillen. There will also be a focus behind the scenes of the industry with a number of events: Screentest is a series of careers related panel discussions; a Screenwriting Panel discussion held in association with Dublin City Libraries, and the new screenwriting competition Untitled. Exploring the blurring boundaries between cinema and computer games, the Off The Grid event will also bring gaming ‘industry legend’ Charles Cecil to Dublin for a masterclass in interactive storytelling.

The festival celebrates the intrinsic role of music in many films with a captivating 90th anniversary screening of The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse accompanied by a live score by the RTÉ Concert Orchestra in the National Concert Hall. Many documentaries in the festival will also turn the lens on music, with Upside Down, the story of Creation Records, the label that brought us The Jesus and Mary Chain and Oasis; Good Cake Bad Cake: The Story of LiR, the band tipped to succeed U2; Kinshasa Symphony, a stereotype-dispelling view of the Congo through the eyes of L’Orchestre Symphonique Kimbanguiste and Ballymun Lullaby, the inspirational account of Ron Cooney’s Ballymun Music Programme.

Each year, Festival Director Grainne Humphreys, spotlights a number of international seasons. This February the focus is emerging Romanian cinema, highlights including the fascinating The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu and the bittersweet comedy Hello, How Are You? The hugely anticipated Latin Cinema Season includes Diego Luna’s (Y Tu Mamá También, Milk) skillful directorial debut, Abel, and the extraordinary Preludio, shot in a single take and exploring the development of love. French cinema is also well represented, with a screening of Little White Lies, directed by the multi-talented Guillaume Canet (The Beach, Tell No One) and François Ozon’s multi- Cesar nominated sparkling comedy-of-manners Potiche, starring Catherine Deneuve and Gérard Depardieu as the Closing Gala.

Augmenting all of the above will be the Discovery programme of new work from emerging filmmakers; Out of the Past showcasing the best in classic cinema and a fantastic array of documentaries including The Simpson’s Harry Shearer with his exposé of the reaction to Hurricane Katrina The Big Uneasy.

Before the main launch, we sat down with Grainne Humphreys who gave her top three of the festival as:

1) Werner Herzog’s 3D documentary, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, with a post-screening satellite Q&A.

2) Le Quattro Volte: a playful yet philosophical documentary about daily life in a remote Calabrian village with a scene that will ‘have you laughing until the end of the festival’.

3). The Woman with the Five Elephants: A beautiful documentary featuring the indomitable 85-year-old Svetlana Geier and her quest to translate Dostoyevsky’s five novels into German. “A film that really had an effect on me and one that I really had a connection with”.

You can download the full festival programme in PDF here. Tickets are on sale now (from €8-18) from the web site at www.jdiff.com, phone on (01) 6877974 and the Ticket Office at Filmbase, Curved Street, Temple Bar. There’s also the Facebook page and Twitter (@dublinfilmfest) account.

Here’s The Cave of Forgotten Dreams trailer:

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