Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Pipe comes home for General Release

The last 6 months have been like a rollercoaster for The Pipe ever since it premiered at the Galway Film Fleadh back in July. Indeed, after 3 years of shooting and a year in the edit, I had no idea what the reaction would be from people, especially the locals, given that they had no idea what was in the film. That night of Thursday the 8th of July in Galway was a really nervewracking experience as people began to arrive, a large section of them from Rossport and the surrounding villages close to the Corrib project. Having filmed these people during their daily lives, at the protests and during some very difficult and painful times over the past 3 years, I had no idea how the community would react to seeing their souls bared on the big screen.

The reaction was really incredible, especially from people whose lives had been so intensely affected by the Corrib project, and all the emotions of the past 10 years seemed to flood back in those 83 minutes in the Town Hall Theatre; the joy, the humour, the pain of the jailings and the heartache of seeing their own community ripped apart by infighting. And although parts of the film were difficult for many of the people to watch, they seemed to really appreciate seeing their story told for the first time without being manipulated or spun.

Risteard Ó Domhnaill (Director) & Lelia Doolin at the premiere
in the Town Hall Theatre at the Galway Film Fleadh

Winning Best Doc at the Galway Film Fleadh then acted as a springboard internationally. Although Galway is a relatively small festival, it has a great profile abroad and success here was crucial in getting recognition by the Toronto Film Festival, one of the two big North American festivals. Selection for Toronto was a massive achievement but it did bring its own worries, as we were now competing against the best documentaries in the world. However, instead of getting lost among the 300 or so films there, we managed to carve out a really good profile for ourselves. We got fantastic coverage in the Toronto papers and amazingly got 7 minutes on Canada’s prime time news features show on CBC. The reason for so much attention before the screening was timing; it was directly in the wake of the devastating Gulf Oil spill and peoples' minds were very focused on the oil industry and its relationship with the environment and small communities. Also, in Canada there is a very divisive national debate going on regarding the extraction of massive amounts of oil from Canadian tar sands, despite huge environmental impacts.

Risteard Ó Domhnaill (Director), Rachel Lysaght (Producer),
Áine Ní Dhúil and Nigel O'Regan (Editor) at Toronto International Film Festival 

Having sold out all of our screenings beforehand, I was a bundle of nerves going into our first screening as I had no idea if the Canadians would actually ‘get’ the story. Remember, here was a small community in one of the most isolated corners of Ireland with a very particular story, sense of humour. and a very unique way with words (at times more like Irish in terms of sentence construction). Remarkably, the Canadians, traditionally a fairly conservative audience, reacted very emotionally to the film and gave us a standing ovation! That was the point for me when I knew that this story would travel, and I was delighted that the audience could empathise with the people on screen. People saw in the characters their own neighbours, friends and relations, and felt that this could be a  community anywhere - Canada, Nigeria, Russia – any community whose rights have been set aside by their own government in favour of a very powerful private interest – in this case it just happens to be Shell. Off the back of Toronto we got a lot of interest from ordinary people and distributors, and from there on we were ‘out the gap’.

We screened in the London and Amsterdam film festivals with great success, just narrowly missing out on the top prize in the prestigious ‘Green Screen’ competition to Into Eternity by Michael Madsen, but the judges felt The Pipe deserved an ‘honorable mention’ none the less. We screened at the Cork Film Festival to a sell-out crowd of 250 at the Gate cinema who then offered us a 2 week cinema run on the back of the success of that screening on a cold, wet Monday night. The Cork audience was probably the most vocal audience I have ever experienced - laughing out loud, expressing their shock at the treatment of some of the characters in the film, and taking me on in a very frank and challenging debate in the Q&A afterwards. Only last week we screened at the Foyle Film Festival in Derry and picked up the award for Best Documentary, and I was amazed at the depth of knowledge people had up in Derry regarding the politics and history surrounding Corrib!

Now that we are on the verge of a national cinema release, I just find it hard to believe that the story of this small isolated community is now going up against the big Hollywood blockbusters like Narnia and Harry Potter in cinemas around the country. However, I think it is crucial that the film is released at this time, despite it being the most competitive time of the year in cinemas. We are now in the middle of possibly the worst crisis to hit this country since the foundation of the State, our politicians having put powerful private interests ahead of the greater good of the citizens with devastating consequences, and I feel that the Corrib story is a microcosm of that larger picture.  Hopefully The Pipe will in some way give people an insight into this, but also show them that even in times of great despair and seemingly insurmountable challenges, people can find amazing resources within themselves, and within their communities, to get through the hard times, and even share a joke every now and then!

Risteard Ó Domhnaill
The Pipe

  • The Pipe goes on release from Friday December 3rd.
Special Events:
  • There will be a Gala Opening at the IFI on December 2nd at 18.00 with a Q&A with Risteard and members of the Rossport community.
  • On December 4th at 13.30 there will be a panel discussion entitled The Pipe: Rossport and the Corrib Gas Project chaired by journalist Lorna Siggins about the project and its impact on the community. Free but ticketed event.
  • On December 11th at 13.30 The Pipe: Politics and Film will look at the role art and filmmaking can play within a political campaign. Free but ticketed event.
The Pipe is produced by Scannáin Inbhear with funding from Bord Scannán na hEireann / the Irish Film Board and TG4.

Friday, November 26, 2010

In the Beginning (A l'origine) review

A film about building a road to nowhere could just as easily be called The Road to Hell. The French drama In the Beginning (A l'origine), which played last night to a packed cinema as part of the IFI French Film Festival, was truly an exercise in how to take a small story and turn it into a highly watchable thriller,as well as a study of the human need to grasp glimmers of hope in desperate times.

Directed by Xavier Giannoli (The Singer) it tells the story of Philippe/Paul, a conman who travels up and down France scamming equipment from construction sites for re-sale. Small time stuff, really, 'til he gets caught up in a town where highway construction had ceased two years previously because of a beetle infestation. Assuming the name Philippe Miller, he claims to be the project manager for a contractor and sets about restarting the building. The town’s mayor (Emanuelle Devos, luminous and credulous) who tells him that ‘the boss left for India with our subsidies and machines, and we were left with the unemployed’, willingly falls in, desperate to get things moving again.

At the local cheap hotel, chambermaid Monika is a single mum whose feckless boyfriend, Nicolas, needs a job to ‘calm him down’. She is drawn to Philippe and multi-tasks her way around his new project office where she fends off creditors and accepts his promise that wages will come through. Of course it all goes horribly wrong, but not before Philippe totally falls for both the Mayor and his own trick; we see him rally the construction troops through torrential mud and rain, convince a small bank manager that he is for real (don’t think I was the only one wondering why he didn’t just go to Anglo Irish Bank!) and take an interest in Nicolas.

But Philippe’s past catches up with him, in the gargantuan shape of sleazy con, Abel, played by Gerard Depardieu. We know it’s not going to end well as soon as he hoists his leather-jacketed frame into view. Philippe’s mental stability, his newly found love and all about him tumbles into the slithering mud of the motorway.

A terrific film for the Festival that will hopefully get a cinema release.

3 more days of the Festival to go.

Alicia McGivern
Head of Education

In the Beginning (A l'origine) goes on tour with access>CINEMA to Waterford, Galway and Wicklow.

The Final Weekend of the IFI French Film Festival

We're about to head into the final weekend of the IFI French Film Festival and after record audiences this year, we're expecting to go out with bang!

Tonight we welcome our next Festival guest, Michel Leclerc, director of The Names of Love (Le Nom des gens) who will introduce the film and participate in a post-screening Q&A. The film is now fully sold out.

The Silent World

Another Festival guest in over the weekend is Éamon de Buitleár who will introduce both films in our focus on Jacques-Yves Cousteau. Digitally restored prints offer us a welcome opportunity to rediscover the work of the ethusiastic explorer, researcher, author and filmmaker (winner of three Oscars and the Palme d'Or) as we present two of Cousteau's films: The Silent World (Le Monde du silence) and The World Without Sun (Le Monde sans soleil) on Saturday and Sunday at 13.00 and 13.30 respectively. Éamon de Buitleár  will introduce both screenings. Éamon is an independent filmmaker, author and has been involved in natural history and wildlife programmes for many years.

Other highlights over the Closing Weekend include your second chance to catch Copacabana (after the first screening sold out) starring Isabelle Huppert and her real-life daughter Lolita Chammah in a very enjoyable comedy (Saturday 27th, 21.00). The legendary Jean-Luc Godard is saying that Socialism / Film Socialisme (Saturday 27th, 17.00) is his last film (we're not sure we believe him!) but come along just in case!

Babies (Bebes) follows four newborns in Japan, Mongolia, Namibia and the US over the course of their first year and was a surprise hit in the States when it went on release. It's beautifully shot and often hilarious, and a perfect Sunday evening film (Nov 28th, 18.30).


If you enjoyed Metropolis back in September, you now have another chance to see it's star (Brigitte Helm) in action in Marcel L'Herbier's classic 1928 film Money (L'Argent), a visually spectacular film based on Emile Zola's 1891 novel about the allure and destructive power of money. A fitting film to watch after all the deliberations about our Four Year Plan!

We hope you enjoy the last few days of the Festival.

Ross Keane
Head of Marketing & Communications

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Remaining 5 Days of the IFI French Film Festival...

After record numbers attended screenings at the IFI French Film Festival over the first 5 days, there are now just 5 more days remaining as we hit the halfway mark...

After Gerard Depardieu's new film Mammuth sold out on Saturday, tonight's screening is also now fully booked, and we just have a small number of tickets left for this Thursday's screening. Book in advance to avoid disappointment!

Other highlights over the coming days include two of Wednesday night's offerings, Copacabana and Mademoiselle Chambon. Copacabana stars real-life mother-daugher Isabelle Huppert and Lolita Chammah in Marc Fitoussi's enjoyable comedy about a conservative daughter so embarrased by her baba-cool mother that she will not invite her to her wedding, prompting Huppert to make changes to her lifestyle. Huppert attacks her part with relish, while her daughter Chammah (also starring in Memory Lane this evening, Tuesday) shows how she too is an actress of great talent. We had hoped that Lolita would be able to join us at both her film screenings, but due to circumstances beyond our control, she is no longer able to make it to Dublin on this occasion.


Mademoiselle Chambon is a beautiful film telling the tale of a family man who falls for his son's school teacher. It's a film of gesture and expression, of extreme subtlety and understated eroticism, made wholly credible by the two superb performances at its heart.

 Mademoiselle Chambon

Another highlight for the latter part of the Festival is In the Beginning (A l'origine) which was shown to great accalim at Cannes in 2009.  Starring Francois Cluzet and Emmanuelle Devos, the film is based on a true story about a small-time conman and a case of  mistaken identity, and has a timely element of social critique.

In the Beginning

For those of you who were unable to get into our sold-out Opening Film, The Names of Love (Le Nom des gens), it returns this Friday for a second and final screening at 18.30. Director Michel Leclerc will be our next Festival guest and will introduce the film and then participate in a post-screening Q&A.

And don't forget, if you want to book a table in the IFI Café Bar to avail of our special French Festival menus, you can do so by calling 01 679 8712.

We hope you enjoy the final 5 days of the Festival.

Ross Keane
Head of Marketing & Communications

Monday, November 22, 2010

IFI French Film Festival 2010 - First Weekend A Great Success

The first weekend of the festival saw some fantastic films and some brilliant special guest appearances. Michel Ciment arrived from Paris on Friday in time to do an interview with Sean Rocks on RTE 1's Arena programme. You can listen in here. Michel was around to talk after his documentary Michel Ciment: The Art of Sharing Movies and to greet his friend John Boorman who came in on Sunday for a documentary about his life and work.

Laurent Marie talks to Michel Ciment at the IFI
There is still time to get along to two festival highlights taking place tonight. Restless will be followed by a wine and cheese reception courtesy of our sponsors ATOUT FRANCE. There will also be a cider tasting to tempt people to enter their festival competition for a holiday in Brittany. Enter here
ATOUT FRANCE Brittany Competition
Also showing tonight is the second festival film about Algeria. Outside the Law follows the sold-out screening of Of Gods and Men on Saturday with just as much excitement. Rachid Bourchareb's historical drama provoked huge drama at Cannes with protests and denunciations from the establishment for its daring  comparison between the FNL and the French Resistance.

Friday, November 19, 2010

French Film Festival - Upcoming Events & Highlights

The IFI French Film Festival kicked off last night with a sold-out screening of The Names of Love (Le Nom des gens). If you missed it, fret not, we have another screening on Friday 26th with director Michel Leclerc in attendance.

We've barely had time to recover from last night's Gala Reception where we all got to sample our special Festival French wines, and we're onto day two of the Festival, with lots of special events and highlights over the next few days.

Tonight you really don't want to miss Making Plans for Lena (Non ma fille, tu n'iras pas danser) which was written specifically for critically-acclaimed French actress Chiara Mastroianni who excels as a neurotic and flawed woman, flailing after the break-up of her marriage. And for a little word of warning, there are only a few tickets left for this evening's screening of My Afternoons with Margueritte (La Tete en friche) starring Gerard Depardieu, so we'd strongly recommend you book in advance.

My Afternoons with Margueritte

Most of our weekend special events revolve around our guests. Michel Ciment, esteemed French critic, will introduce the first film in our First-Time Directors Strand, Chicks (La Vie en ranch), this evening (Friday) at 19.15. He will also be participating in a Q&A after Michel Ciment: The Art of Sharing Movies (Michel Ciment, le cinema en partage) tomorrow (Saturday) at 14.30, and will introduce Jean-Luc Godard's Moments choisis des histoire(s) du cinema at 16.00 on Saturday. Our second Festival guest arrives on Sunday. John Boorman is the subject of the documemntary John Boorman: A Portrait (Un portrait de John Boorman) and our two guests will come together as Michel Ciment and John Boorman participate in a post-screenng discussion at 18.00 on Sunday.


On Monday we will have the second of our films in our First-Time Director's Strand. Restless (La Bel age) is a coming-of-age story set at both ends of the spectrum as 17-year-old Claire struggles with choices that will determine her future, while her grandfather is tormented by the choices he has made in the past. This screening will include a complimentary wine and cheese reception courtesy of ATOUT FRANCE and everyone will also be able to paricipate in a free Breton cider tasting.

There are plenty of other screenings and events on the horizon, so check out the full programme to find out what your Festival must-sees are.

Ross Keane
Head of Marketing & Communications

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Michel Ciment at the IFI French Film Festival

For almost fifty years, Michel Ciment has been a champion of the Seventh Art, not only in France but also throughout the world thanks to the translation of many of his books in different languages. His encyclopedic knowledge of world cinema and his countless encounters with film directors worldwide  - as exemplified in his recent Film World (2009) - is matched by a consummate art of in-depth analysis, thorough without being academic, accessible and always passionate.

He joined the French film journal Positif (the arch rival of Cahiers du cinema) in 1963, and published his first book ten years later, Kazan by Kazan. Michel Ciment has been highly praised for his interview skills, which led to revealing insights into well-known directors such as Kazan, Rosi, Losey and many more. His best-seller is the magnificently illustrated volume on Stanley Kubrick, first published in 1980.

Few documentaries have been made about critics. Simone Lainé’s film, Michel Ciment: The Art of Sharing Movies (Michel Ciment, le cinema en partage) shown on Saturday November 20th at 14.30, bears testimony to the part Michel Ciment has played not only in exploring cinema as a major art–form, but more importantly in reaching out to the public at large, sharing his passion with all of us. In addition to his books, his articles and interviews in Positif and many a foreign film periodicals, he has collaborated regularly to France Inter’s Le Masque et la plume, a popular Sunday evening radio programme in which a panel of critics discuss new releases or films crowned by major Film Festivals. For anyone who’d rather stay at home on Sunday nights in order not to miss the heated discussions and invariably entertaining arguments of the critics who take part in Le Masque et la plume, it is indeed a rare treat to have the opportunity to see Michel Ciment in the flesh and hear him live in Dublin.

Laurent Marie

Michel Ciment's schedule at the IFI French Film Festival

Friday November 19th:
Saturday November 20th:
Sunday November 21st:

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

IFI French Film Festival Opening Weekend

The Opening of this year's IFI French Film Festival is now only a matter of days away and the IFI is gearing up for what promises to be an excellent 10 days and nights of the best French cinema. With tickets selling fast and numerous guests about to arrive, the time is nearly upon us to immerse ourselves in the finest French film...

Depardieu in Mammuth

This year's Festival offers over 20 Irish premieres, and the Opening Weekend offers two new films starring the formidable Gerard DepardieuMy Afternoons with Margueritte is the latest offering from Jean Becker (a Festival guest in 2008) about the unlikely friendship between Germain (Depardieu) and Margueritte (96 year old Gisele Casadesus) which screens on Friday, 19th November at 17.15. In Mammuth, Depardieu stars as Serge who, on retiring, takes to the road on his old motorbike in search of paperwork from former employers that will allow him to claim full benefits. A road movie with a difference, it allows for frequently hilarious and bizarre encounters along the way. Both Depardieu films are selling very fast, so advance booking is highly recommended.

Michel Ciment

The first of our Festival guests arrives in on Friday. Acclaimed French critic Michel Ciment will introduce Chicks (La Vie au ranch), the first of three films by first-time directors in a new strand at the Festival. Sophie Letourneur's film focuses on the hectic social lives of a group of female college students and revolves around the apartment in which they live. Michel will also be in attendance at at the screening of Michel Ciment: The Art of Sharing Movies (Michel Ciment, le cinema en partage) on Saturday 20th November at 14.30 and will participate in a post-screening Q&A. The film gives a fascinating insight into a man who never lost his passion for film, and includes tributes from figures like Tavernier and Tarantino. This Q&A is a great opportunity to hear the esteemed critic talk about his life and work.

John Boorman

Another guest in our opening weekend will be John Boorman, director of acclaimed films such as Deliverance and The General. John Boorman: A Portrait (Un portrait de John Boorman) is  a fascinating documentary providing insights into Boorman's motivations and the recurring themes in his work. Following the film (Sunday November 21st at 18.00), John Boorman will participate in a Q&A with our other Festival guests, Michel Ciment. 

Making Plans for Lena

Another film not-to-be-missed this weekend is Christophe Honore's Making Plans for Lena (Non ma fille, tu n'iras pas danser) which was specifically written for actress Chiara Mastroianni (star of the sell-out 2008 Festival Closing Film A Christmas Tale/Un conte de Noel). Mastroianna excels once again, this time as the mother of two retreating to her family home after the break-up of her marriage.

This is just a sample of some of the Opening Weekend films and events at this year's IFI French Film Festival. Be warned, films are selling out fast, so book soon to avoid disappointment. If you still can't decide which films to choose, don't forget that you can also avail of our special Festival packages; €40 for 5 films and €70 for 11.

The IFI Café Bar will also be transforming for the 10 days and nights of the Festival. With changing daily specials and discounted offers, be sure to reserve your table on 01 679 8712.

The full Festival programme can be found here.

A bientot!

Ross Keane
Head of Marketing & Communications 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

'GAA Gold' DVD Launched at Croke Park

Today will surely go down as one of the most interesting in my time at the IFI Irish Film Archive, as I got to hold a camán on the pitch at Croke Park alongside Críostóir Ó Cuana, President of the GAA, and hurling legends such as Seán Óg Ó Ceallacháin, Sean Cronin, Norman Allen and Tony Wall. The occasion was the launch of the latest IFI DVD release GAA Gold which brings together 11 All-Ireland hurling finals (1948-1959) which had been filmed by the National Film Institute and had been safely held in the Archive's vaults for the last few decades but had not been widely shared with the public until now.

This DVD covers the period 1948 to 1959 and brings us back to a golden age in hurling’s history. A time of flat caps, before shin guards and helmets, before cruciate ligaments had been invented, and when you actually had a chance of seeing Dublin in a hurling final! The DVD contains rare footage of some of the greatest players ever to lift the camán, legends such as John Keane, Tony Reddin, Jimmy Doyle, the Rackard brothers, Eddie Keher and of course Christy Ring, to name but a few. Cork and Tipperary’s three-in-a-row wins are featured, as is the legendary Kilkenny win of 1957, and Waterford’s only All-Ireland hurling victories, which are the opening and closing matches on the DVD.

But the DVD is more than just a record of great hurling achievements; it also provides us with a snap shot of an Ireland long gone. The camera team skilfully recorded the excitement in the capital on match day as they follow the crowds from Heuston Station, down O’Connell Street, and up to Jones’s road. For me these crowd scenes are almost as compelling as the match footage. Other highlights are the small details: Mattie Fouhy and Willie John Daley playing bootless, a canine spectator invading the pitch and being escorted to the sideline, crowds hanging from the railings and lining the wall behind the score board in the days before health and safety spoiled the fun, linesman smoking as they wave their flags, and footage of the opening of the new Hogan Stand in 1959.

However, I don’t think there will be much debate about the fact that it is Micheal O’Hehir’s rousing commentary that steals the show. In the early days much of the action was missed by a single cameraman struggling to keep up with the fast play, but O’Hehir’s enthusiastic commentary more than fills the gaps, creates a sense of occasion, and succeeds in building an air of tension for the audience who already would, of course, have known the score.

The 11 matches contained on this DVD are the beginning of what we hope will be a series of All-Ireland DVDs from the Archive collection. We aim to follow up with the football finals of the same period. The fact that this footage survives is due to the on going work of the IFI Irish Film Archive. The DVD serves as reminder that our moving image heritage is invaluable and needs to be given the same protection as the cultural collections held in our museums, libraries and paper archives. The proceeds of the sale of this DVD will go towards the cost of preserving our national moving image collection for the benefit of current and future generations.

Kasandra O'Connell
Head of Irish Film Archive

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Carrot Cake or Popcorn?

The IFI has recently been accused of ‘going commercial’ or showing more mainstream films than would be expected of an independent art-house cinema. Apart from the many problems associated with such terms as ‘independent’ and ‘art-house’, what this means for the most part is the screening of what are perceived as ‘commercial’ American films. The titles cited in these comments include Inception, Cyrus, Buried, The Social Network and The Kids Are All Right. All of these films are outstanding in their different ways, and to some extent their programming at the IFI hardly needs to be justified, especially since they are amongst the finest offerings available at the moment.

A few of the films in question are also interesting in that they blur the distinction between ‘art-house’ and mainstream. Distributors and marketing people seem to be fully aware of the crossover potential of movies like The Social Network and The Kids Are All Right, which were quite deliberately booked into independent and multiplex screens, with mixed results. A more extreme example is Christopher Nolan’s Inception, a box-office blockbuster which appears to have appeal across the board. Indeed, one could argue that Nolan is a kind of modern day Stanley Kubrick figure - an avant-garde artist who just happens to work with commercial projects and big movie stars. With Inception, Nolan has somehow married the film of ideas with a James Bond-style action movie that appeals to both intellectuals and fans of video games. The very least one can say of Nolan is that he is one of the most interesting of contemporary directors, maybe even a genuine auteur, whose work connects with a mass audience in ways that few so-called ‘serious’ film-makers ever manage.

David Fincher is another director who has his finger on the pulse of modern social trends, as confirmed in The Social Network. Although its subject matter could hardly be more topical - the intriguing story of the rise and fall of the founders of Facebook - the surprise of the film is that it’s also something of a throwback to the days of smart, witty writing of the kind to be found in the classic Hollywood films of a director like Billy Wilder. The writer of The Social Network is Aaron Sorkin, who is best known for TV’s The West Wing. It could be argued that much of today’s best screenwriting finds it outlet not in movies but in television, and there’s little doubt that the quality of Sorkin’s script for The Social Network is just as distinctive as Fincher’s work as director. Many people thought The Social Network would fail at the box-office because nobody wanted to see a movie about Facebook. The film’s success is perhaps explained by the fact that it is much more than a film about the founding of Facebook. As the critic Scott Foundas writes in his review of the film for the IFI’s November programme, it’s a movie on such timeless themes as power and privilege, and such unmistakably modern ones as the migration of society itself from the real to the virtual sphere.”

Lisa Cholodenko is yet another talented director who has benefited from collaborating with a scriptwriter, Stuart Blumberg, on The Kids Are All Right. The sole author of her earlier independent productions, High Art (1998) and Laurel Canyon (2002), Cholodenko was disappointed that audiences weren’t sure if these films were meant to be funny. “Partly what drew me to working with Stuart Blumberg as a co-writer,” says Cholodenko, “was that, in my other films, I felt the humour wasn’t expressed as assertively as I hoped it would be. When I heard people talking about my films - critics and others - they’d kind of wonder, ‘Were they funny?’ I thought they were funny, but they couldn’t discern the humour. So when Stuart and I talked about working together, I identified in him the potential to work on a more commercial canvas and with humour that was more obvious and mainstream.”

With the addition of a terrific cast headed by Julianne Moore, Annette Bening and Mark Ruffalo, Cholodenko has fashioned a smart comic drama that qualifies as one of the most enjoyable films of the year. Moore and Bening play a lesbian couple who’ve been together for over twenty years and have two teenage kids they conceived with the help of the same anonymous sperm donor. Complications arise when the kids decide to contact their biological father (Ruffalo), which worries the controlling Bening. All the tensions, awkwardness and frustrations of this semi-farcical situation are beautifully captured by Cholodenko and her team, especially in two extended dinner party scenes. The Kids Are All Right is an extremely funny and mildly subversive take on alternative family values. There’s a certain tension between the broad humour and the film’s more serious concerns, but overall Cholodenko’s strategy of reaching out to a wider audience works very well, as reflected in the film’s considerable success at the American box-office.

A final few words about the other two films cited at the beginning of this piece, Cyrus and Buried, both of which seem to have suffered from misrepresentation. A small-scale seriocomic drama made by the Duplass brothers, who came out of the so-called ‘mumblecore’ movement (low-budget, semi-improvised dramas about young ‘slackers’), Cyrus was marketed by 20th Century Fox as a broad and quite crude comedy. This gross misrepresentation meant that potential audiences had a completely false impression of the film. There were also a few misconceptions surrounding Buried. Made by a Spanish director but filmed in English, Buried is unusual in that it is part genre film and part bold formal experiment, set entirely in a coffin in which the central character is confined for the film’s duration. Significantly, this excellent movie didn’t work at all in art-house cinemas but fared much better in multiplexes. Perhaps this is an example of the multiplex audience being more rather than less adventurous than the art-house crowd.

Watch trailers for The Social Network and The Kids Are All Right. The Social Network runs at the IFI until Thursday November 11th, and The Kids Are All Right runs until Thursday November 18th.

Peter Walsh
Cinemas Manager

Friday, November 5, 2010

Capra for a Modern World

Remember the first time? When we all learnt what the words liquidity, or foreclosure, or even bank bailout meant? Seems like they only came into being a few years ago when in fact, that master of American cinema, Frank Capra, was dealing with the subject in his Depression era drama, American Madness, showing as part of the Capra Season which runs throughout November and December here at IFI.

As George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life would later be tested by a run on the bank, so too is banker Tom Dickson challenged in this post-Depression era drama. Written by Robert Riskin, it’s said to be based on the real-life Giannini brothers, whose bank prided itself on serving the ‘little people’. Promoting an idea that common sense and action would help America get out of depression, the film is remarkably prescient for the situation we find ourselves in today. And it’s very funny too. Fabulous crowd scenes depicting the run on the bank show off Capra’s directing talent, all on glorious display throughout this unique retrospective.

Visit our website to find details on all films within the Capra Season.

Alicia McGivern
Head of Education

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

We're ready for our close up: The IFI Irish Film Archive on TG4

Although the staff of IFI Irish Film Archive spend most their time viewing other people on film, every now and again the camera is turned on us. Some months ago Tile Films came to the Archive while shooting Cé a Chónaigh i mo Theachsa? (Who Lived in my House?) their new documentary series in which veteran traveller and broadcaster, Manchán Magan, explores the hidden history of Irish houses.   Episode one, which looks at the story of Spiddal House, features interviews with me and my colleague Manus McManus, and will be broadcast on TG4 on Thursday November 11th at 8pm. Don't miss it!

Cé a Chónaigh i mo Theachsa? is the series that tells the extraordinary stories of our houses and who lived in them before us. Who was murdered in our basement, who made love in the back bedroom and who hid under the stairs during the Civil War? How many children were born here and who did they become? The reason most people like historic buildings isn't just because of their architecture, which can be replicated, it's the knowing that others preceded us, and that lifetimes occurred in our homes. 

Cé a Chónaigh i mo Theachsa? sets out to unlock the real stories hidden in our walls. Manchán Magan takes us on a fascinating journey into the history of our houses. With the help of the experts, he will examine the existing architectural evidence of our houses, speak to neighbours, family members, local historians, and delve into the National Archives, local libraries and Registry of Deeds to discover the colourful characters of the past who kept their front door key under the mat of the same front step over a century ago. 

This fascinating new series is Tile Films latest production for TG4. The series was devised by Series Producer Stephen Rooke and Producer Rachel Towell.  Manchán Magan’s brother Ruán Magan directs.  Manchan and Ruán are a dynamic duo, who have travelled the world making a series of internationally acclaimed documentaries titled Manchán ar Seachrán for TG4. And now, following a 7 year break, Tile Films have brought them back together again to produce this high-end, intriguing and highly entertaining series Cé a Chónaigh i mo Theachsa? The series was made possible through the financial support of TG4, the BAI (Broadcast Authority of Ireland) Sound & Vision Fund and the Section 481 investment incentive for the Irish Film Industry provided by the Government of Ireland.

The IFI Irish Film Archive's involvement:
In the first episode of Cé a Chónaigh i mo Theachsa?, Manchán Magan is invited to Donal Standún’s house in Spiddal. He has heard this house has been associated with Galway Sheriffs, merchant princes, rock stars and movie moguls. Manchán meets house owner Donal Standún who bought the house in 1998 – realising a dream he had as a child – to live in the house and restore it to its former glory. Donal knows some of the history of the house within the last 150 years – but not who built it and owned the land initially. Manchán discovers that Donal’s restoration of Spiddal House hasn’t been the first one.  For most of the last 300 years Spiddal House was the seat of the Morris Family. The second Lord Killanin (Martin Morris) commissioned the great Irish architect William Scott to give the house a complete and radical face lift.

But its memories of former stable boy and neighbour Jim Dillon that surprise Manchán most and send him to the IFI Irish Film Archive in Dublin. It is here he discovers the story Jim Dillon had of John Wayne being at the house is true. The third Lord Killanin (Michael Morris) who lived in Spiddal House when Jim was a boy, was instrumental in bringing the film The Quiet Man to Ireland. In the IFI, Manchán views incredible unseen footage shot on the set of The Quiet Man and reads letters from Lord Killanin to John Ford (Producer) about filming the movie in Connemara. 

He discovers that Michael Morris is one of those epic characters that you find in great Irish literature.  As a major in the British army during the second world war he took part in the D-Day invasions. Before that, as a journalist, he covered the atrocities of the Sino Japanese War. Then, later in life, Michael Morris became president of the International Olympic Committee. Manchán meets his son, Redmond Morris, prolific Irish Producer who has worked on December Bride, The Butcher Boy, Michael Collins, The Wind that Shakes the Barley and most recently produced The Reader. Redmond shows Manchán his fantastic photos of his father and John Wayne, and the Morris family tree. An interesting link on the family tree sends Manchán to Inis Mór. There he meets local historian Pádraic Ó Tuairisg who can further trace the Morris family to the Fitzpatricks of Inis Mór – the Irish princes of trade in the 1650s and it is they who were the first landlords of the Spiddal House demesne. 

Kasandra O'Connell
Head of IFI Irish Film Archive

Monday, November 1, 2010

Before The Midnight Hour

In the first in a series of readings from some very special guests in the intimate surrounds of the IFI Café Bar, we present some local legends and heroes sharing their literary inspirations. They’ll read some passages from their favourite books, by their favourite writers and share ideas on why they are so inspiring.

The first night kicks off on Friday 5th November at 11pm with guests including well-known troubador, Jerry Fish, reading from legendary American Poet Charles Bukowski. Joining him will be performance artist Neil Watkins, known for his work with THISISPOPBABY and Silver Stars, reading from Michael Cunningham’s The Hours.

Tickets are priced at €10 (including a complimentary drink)
Places are limited so book now to avoid disappointment.
IFI box office on 01 679 3477

Aidan Kelly