Friday, December 16, 2011

Film education - to the power of Ghibli

To almost quote a well-known UK retailer, never knowingly underestimate the potential of film to educate in a whole range of contexts. Here at IFI Education, we are fairly used to full houses of teens glued to subtitled films on weekday mornings, despite the conventional expectation that ‘young people won’t watch subtitles’. Yesterday, however, we had a fresh reminder of just how much a good film can engage a hugely diverse audience.


The Secret World of Arrietty, the latest film from the famed Japanese Studio Ghibli, was showing as part of our schools’ programme. The previous day, IFI Education’s Dee Quinlan and Elaine MacGinty looked after a full house of primary school pupils who watched and loved the dubbed version. Dee introduced the film, and talked a little about Japanese animation and how they might compare it with more familiar animation titles. Positive feedback gathered by Elaine afterwards ranged from the observant, ‘I loved the small details in the house’, to the surprising, ‘Humans and small people could connect’.


But it was the second screening that offered both a snapshot of film education and the potential of cinema itself. The largest group in the house were from an Irish language medium secondary school where students study Japanese. Their Japanese teacher introduced the film in Japanese and they watched the film to hear Japanese being spoken and experience Japanese film culture. A second group were from a deaf school, for whom the film was accessible as subtitled and their teacher signed Dee’s introduction in English. The other schools were Transition Year students watching for film studies. While not quite Babel, engagement with the film was through five different languages, with the initial connection being the audience’s literacy in the language of film itself. 



During our two-year research project, Film Focus, the results of which are due for publication in early Spring, we and the many film educators with whom we worked observed a whole host of ways in which film education is taking place around the country. We also were consistently reminded of the fact that the world for young people, irrespective of ability, is a visually mediated one and it’s the job of education to reflect that. That’s why access to a range of film is essential, be it through subtitling, providing readers, schools programmes, festivals, special events. We’re hoping for many more babel-esque experiences with schools’ audiences during the new term, even if they yield nothing more than one of yesterday’s feedback remarks, ‘I liked the happy ending’…

Alicia McGivern
Head of IFI Education

Visit our website for more information on IFI Education and IFI Schools Programme.
For booking or more information on IFI Education events, contact Dee Quinlan (t 01 679 5744, e: schools@irishfilm.ie).


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Horgan Projector

This 35mm cinema projector, which is displayed in the window of the Tiernan MacBride library, was donated to the IFI Irish Film Archive by Jim Horgan, Furbo, Co Galway, who is the grandson of James Horgan, photographer and shoemaker of Brown Street, Youghal, Co. Cork.



In the 1890s and 1900s, James and his brother Thomas Horgan toured Youghal and neighbouring towns and villages with a magic lantern slide and moving image show. They projected slides of local and foreign scenes, films from the Lumieré Brothers and local topicals - films they made themselves of local beauty spots and activities.

Such was the popularity of these film shows that in 1910 the Horgans began building Youghal’s first cinema. Seven years later, after considerable delays caused by the First World War, the Horgan Picture Palace opened in Friar Street on St Stephen’s night 1917.

The cinema seated 600 people with wooden benches to the front of the auditorium and more comfortable, upholstered seating to the rear. The walls of the auditorium and foyer were elaborately decorated with hand-painted scenes.
Variety shows at the cinema included slide presentations, newsreels, short silent dramas and sing-alongs, where the words of popular songs were projected on the screen. The projections were accompanied by the Horgan’s Picture Theatre Orchestra.

The Horgan's Picture Theatre Orchestra

A great attraction for the cinema audiences was the occasional screening of the Youghal Gazette, a newsreel featuring items of local interest produced by the Horgans for exhibition in their cinema. Items included: Corpus Christi processions, people leaving Sunday mass, the return of local men from Wormwood Scrubs prison in England (c. 1917) celebrations at the end of World War 1, outings to the sea and a series of clever photographic animations. These films have been transferred from the nitrate originals and are preserved at the IFI Irish Film Archive.

The Kamm projector was probably one of the two original machines installed for the opening of the cinema in 1917, but certainly dates from no later than the mid 1920s. It was adapted for screening sound films, possibly in 1929, when the Trial of May Dugan (dir. Bayard Veiller)- ‘an all talking picture’- was shown in the Picture Palace. The projector was powered by an electrical generator with a hand-crank built in for emergency use.



The Kalee lamp-house currently mounted on the machine is not the original one. It was not unusual to update the lamp-house as more powerful luminants became available. This Kalee model housed a carbon-arc lamp with a manually advanced arc-rod system mounted before an adjustable convex mirror.

The film reels were enclosed within heavy metal spool boxes which provided protection against fire from the highly flammable nitrate film stocks used commercially until the 1950s. The Kamm machine was somewhat unusual in that the take-up reel was housed within the lower body of the projector and not jutting away from the projector frame. The projector carried reels of no more than 2,000 ft approximately 20mins at sound speed. Feature length films were shown on two projectors with each projector showing alternate reels.

The cinema featured a back-projection system with projectors located behind the screen. The small space that was created between the projection box and the screen was used for some time as a bedroom. The cinema remained open until 1988. In 1996 the building reopened as a Heritage Craft Centre.

The IFI Tiernan MacBride Library  

This projector was meticulously restored by Bernard Matthews (Ardee, Co Louth) a member of the Projected Picture Trust. The Trust, registered in England, is committed to the preservation and exhibition of still and moving image equipment.

In addition to the magnificent projector, the IFI Irish Film Archive building also displays the camera on which the brothers shot their films and  the Archive holds a document collection relating to the administrative history of the Horgan Picture Palace and spanning the years 1917 -1956 collection. These include screenings diaries, gross and net takings records, accounts ledgers, logs of ticket sales, and carbon copied correspondence.

Sunniva O'Flynn
IFI Curator

Support the IFI Irish Film Archive Preservation Fund and donate today [here].

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ballymun Lullaby: community cinema


Frank Berry, director of Ballymun Lullaby shares his thoughts about the resurgence of community spirit in Ireland in recent years, and how he came to create this film. It is opening at the IFI on Friday December 16th and will run until the 22nd. The Ballymun Children’s Choir will sing Christmas carols in the IFI before the screenings on December 16th and 18th, and Frank will take part in a post-screening Q&A on 16th.



My work in the area of community video has been the most rewarding of all the work I’ve been involved in. I have directed probably more than 20 community projects, mainly for organisations with little money but in need of promotion. These local films would have big themes covering educational opportunities, personal development, disability and social disadvantage. I made one such community video for the Ballymun Music Programme in 2003 and when I returned to Ballymun in February 2009, I was struck by the changes in the area and the success of Ron Cooney’s work. Ron and I met for coffee and that’s how Ballymun Lullaby the film began.

Due to the film’s roots, I have been describing Ballymun Lullaby as a piece of community cinema. Many commentators have spoken about the return of community spirit in Ireland since the boom ended, how society is reconnecting with values that had become less important. This inspires me to find other stories that I believe are as important as this one. I believe Ron Cooney’s sincerity and vision gives us hope. 

And I know I won’t have to look far. Community cinema is all around us.

Frank Berry
Director

For more information and bookings, visit our website or call on 01 679 3477.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Sharing European cinematographic heritage


The popularity of content sharing websites like YouTube has led to an expectation from the general public that moving image archives should be able to make all their holdings available on-line. A reasonable expectation you might think, but making material available in this way is much more difficult than most casual viewers might imagine. 

Once Upon a Tram

Like many moving image archives, the IFI Irish Film Archive does not own the rights for 99.9 % of the material is holds, so must seek permission from the copy right owners of each piece of footage it wants to make available to the public on a case-by-case basis. In addition to the resource implications of this process, rights holders are understandably wary of their personal collections being available in a manner over which they have no control, and of course the misappropriation and reuse of material without the owners’ permission is another big concern. As archivists we have to try and find a balance between making the collections we hold widely available to the public and protecting the rights and goodwill of the people who have entrusted their films into our care.

In recent years the IFI Irish Film Archive has published a number of DVDs with the aim of bringing our collections to a wider audience and we also recently began to work with the Europa FilmTreasures project which encourages European citizens to discover their shared European cinematographic heritage.  The project is the brain-child of Serge Bromberg, founder of Paris-based Lobster Films. Serge had long been aware of the meticulous work being undertaken by film archives throughout Europe and of the difficulties that existed in making this work available to a wider public. He felt that an online project that respected the rights of the copyright holders and used anti-copying and anti-downloading security measures, would give film archives a democratic way to highlight their collections in an international context.

Once Upon a Tram

The IFI Irish Film Archive currently has 4 titles available to watch on the site, with more being added all the time. Each film is translated into French, German, Italian and Spanish to ensure it is accessible to as many European citizens as possible.  Our most popular film is Once Upon a Tram (1959) which to date has received over 20,000 viewings. Produced by Leinster Studios, Once Upon a Tram looks at one of the last journeys of the Howth Tram and is a record of an elegant and leisurely form of transport of a by-gone era. The film was made with the realisation that trams were about to become a thing of the past in Dublin, with the opening scenes of the film featuring shots of tram lines in Dublin’s city centre being dug up. Once Upon  A Tram focuses on the different people who make use of this mode of transport and is narrated by Cyril Cusack.

Also on view on the EFT website are Voyage to Recovery (1953) and  Tony Bacillus and Co (1943) These films were part of a series of educational and public information films made by the National Film Institute (now the IFI) in the 1940s and 1950s on behalf of the department of Health.

Voyage To Recovery

Voyageto Recovery aimed to demystify and de-stigmatise TB and its treatment.  It features Brian (Joe Lynch) a middle class family man and loving husband, who is undergoing treatment and convalescence in one of the government’s modern and well equipped TB sanatoriums. By refusing to be ashamed of his illness, Brian addresses the prejudices that existed in the public consciousness at that time regarding the disease. The film subtly reassures the public that the government was dealing with the problem of TB in an effective manner.

Tony Bacillus & Co

The second title Tony Bacillus & Co (1946) is a comical public information film about the threat of tuberculosis in which TB is represented by a menacing puppet, who attempts to infect a little boy puppet by placing various hazards - spitting, coughing and drinking unpasteurised milk - in his path. However, the boy puppet is well versed in disease prevention and T. Bacillus is foiled. Last year this film was chosen by the Europa Film Treasures project to have a score written by Anaïs-Gaëll Lozac'h and recorded by the prestigious Paris Conservatoire, and this addition greatly enhances the viewer’s enjoyment of the film.

Ciall Cheannaigh

Our latest addition to the project Ciall Cheannaigh (1969) is a delightful and quirky film made by Guinness brewery employee Mike Lawlor as part of the company’s Film Club, and takes a humorous look at the then recent phenomenon of shopping centres in Ireland. Showing the hustle and bustle of shoppers in Dunnes Stores in Cornelscourt, the film accurately captures burgeoning consumer society and is a charming portrait of Irish suburban life in the late 1960s.  On the look-out for bargains are a motley group of shoppers ranging from a priest and his housekeeper, grocery-shopping young couples, lingerie-buying ladies and children of all ages. The excitement of this new shopping experience is further conveyed by a frenetic soundtrack by renowned traditional Irish musician Dónal Lunny.

To see the films mentioned above visit the EFT website and we will let you know of any new additions to the project.


Kasandra O'Connell
Head of IFI Irish Film Archive

Support the IFI Irish Film Archive Preservation Fund - for more information and how to donate, visit  www.ifi.ie/preservationfund

For more information on IFI Irish Film Archive DVDs, visit IFI Film Shop or follow @IFI_FilmShop on Twitter. 





Wednesday, November 30, 2011

December at the IFI


Welcome to the IFI’s December programme and some great films to see us through to the end of the year. 

The much anticipated Argentinian film, Las Acacias, opens on December 9th. First time director Pablo Giorgelli’s film received a rapturous reception at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, winning the prestigious Camera d’Or, and has gone on to win over festival audiences and critics around the world, gathering momentum as one of the must see films of 2011. You will regret it if you miss it. 

Las Acacias

One of the surprising stories in film this year has been a turn to 3D by some of the great auteurs: Wenders, Herzog and now Scorsese, who has adapted the bestselling children’s novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret into his first 3D film, Hugo. The film has been puzzling film critics for while but the reports back from those that have seen it is that it is, as Scott Foundas writes in his programme notes, a ‘Scorsese Triumph’, and a master class in how to use 3D to the best effect. 

Hugo

Above all, Hugo is a eulogy to the importance of making sure our film heritage isn’t lost. Scorsese is a passionate advocate of film preservation, and has said “Film is history; with every foot of film that is lost we lose a link to our culture, to the world around us and to ourselves”. This is something that we believe absolutely to be true and the IFI continues to do everything in its power to ensure that Ireland’s film heritage is preserved for the future and, crucially, that is accessible for people to see. 

The collection that we hold in the IFI Irish Film Archive now numbers 27,000 cans of film and over 10,000 broadcast tapes, but what these numbers really add up to is Ireland’s cultural, political and social stories. Film is a great communicator and can bring these stories to life in a unique way. However, film is also fragile and has to be kept in climate-controlled vaults in order to prevent deterioration, which it is why it is essential that Ireland has a film archive that can properly preserve this precarious history.

IFI Irish Film Archive

We are the national film archive but we are at a critical time in our development: our archive building in Temple Bar has reached capacity and we cannot accept any more material, meaning that precious collections are in danger of being lost. We urgently need to build our Preservation Centre at the National University of Maynooth, on their campus, and we just have to raise our shortfall of €300,000 to ensure that our films have a safe, secure, long-term home and that the Archive can continue to ensure that.

GAA Football Gold DVD

Please help us do this in whatever way you can; donations of any size make a very real difference. Don’t forget that proceeds from our new GAA Football Gold and other great Archive products in the IFI Film Shop go directly to the Preservation Fund, so do your Christmas shopping there and support film at the same time! Thank you very much for your support. Visit www.ifi.ie/preservationfund for more details or to make a donation.

With all good wishes from everyone at the IFI for a happy and peaceful Christmas and New Year, and we look forward to seeing you in 2012. 

Sarah Glennie
Director

See Saoirse Ronan in the IFI Irish film Archive Preservation Fund video and visit 

For new releases, DVDs, books and special offers - follow IFI Film Shop  @IFI_FilmShop on Twitter.






Friday, November 25, 2011

Closing Weekend Highlights at the IFI French Film Festival

It's hard to believe that we're already hit the final weekend of the 2011 IFI French Film Festival, but don't despair - many would argue that we've saved the best for last, so don't miss out on the final weekend of big films and guests.

Jean-Pierre Darroussin in Early One Morning

We're very excited about one of our special Festival guests this year - the one and only Jean-Pierre Darroussin, star of Early One Morning. In this excellent drama he gives a riveting performance as a bank excecutive who calmly shoots his bosses dead and then reminisces on how he got to this point while he waits for the police to arrive. Darroussin will introduce the screening on Friday night and then will partcipate in a Q&A with esteemed French critic and documentary filmmaker Michel Ciment. This Q&A promises to be a real treat. Darroussin will also introduce the screening on Saturday (while Michel Ciment will also introduce his own film, Once Upon a Time . . . A Clockwork Orange).

The Minister

Winner of the FIPRESCI Prize in Un Certain Regard at Cannes, The Minister, Pierre Schoeller's study of a government minister dealing with political and personal crises, is a true highlight of this year's Festival. It has one screening only (Friday night) and tickets are selling fast, so we strongly urge you to book soon so you don't miss out on this incredible film.

Claude Miller

We were due to welcome Claude Miller, one of France's most influential and respected filmmakers, to the Festival to introduce his two films that we have on offer: I'm Glad my Mother is Alive  and See How they Dance. Unfortunately, we just received the news that Claude is unwell and he deeply regrets not being able to make it to Dublin on this occasion. Instead, critic and filmmaker Michel Ciment will introduce both of these films.

If you're still gagging for more guests, this Saturday (12pm) also sees a free panel discussion entitled French Cinema Now. Participating will be critic Michel Ciment, actor Jean-Pierre Darroussin, director Anna Novion, and members of the Irish film industry. The panellists will debate trends and movements in French cinema, and will examine comparisons with Irish filmmaking. The event is free but ticketed.

Beloved

It was chosen to officially close this year's Cannes Film Festival, and we've selected it to play twice over our closing weekend - Beloved finally hits our screens. You may have seen the image on posters all over town and adorning the cover of this year's Festival programme, and we're delighted to finally get to screen Christophe Honoré's thoroughly enjoyable 'musical' Beloved. The films spans four decades in the life of its protagonist Madeline and its sports an all-star cast including Catherine Deneuve, Chiara Mastroianni, Ludivine Sagnier and Louis Garrel.

So there's all this (and plenty more) to catch over the final weekend of the Festival. To see the full programme, please visit our website, and don't miss any Festival updates by following @IFI_Dub on Twitter and use #IFIFrench.

Ross Keane
Public Affairs & Marketing Director

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

We're halfway through the IFI French Film Festival...

It's been a busy few days as we hit the halfway point at the IFI French Film Festival, but we have lots of highlights still to come...

The Silence of Joan director Philippe Ramos
with actor Liam Cunningham

After the Gala Opening last Wednesday, the Festival guests just kept on coming throughout the opening weekend. Director of The Bird, Yves Caumon participated in a second Q&A on Thursday following his film, and no sooner had he flown home that Philippe Ramos, director of The Silence of Joan, joined us to introduce his film on both Friday and Saturday. As an added bonus, Liam Cunningham - star of The Silence of Joan - also joined us for Saturday's screening. Luce Vigo, daughter of legendary director Jean Vigo and President of the Jean Vigo Prize, was here throughout the weekend to introduce the selection of screenings within this programme strand.

Luce Vigo with Laurent Marie

There were sell-out screenings to beat the band over the weekend. Romantics Anonymous was the first film in the Festival to sell out (don't worry, it will return for one week only from December 16th), but was quickly followed by queues leading out the front door for the double screenings of Declaration of War, His Mother's Eyes and House of Tolerance.

Pater

The next few days sees a range of favourites from this year's Cannes and Venice film festivals. Selected for competition at Cannes, Pater is Alain Cavalier's experimental narrative which proved an enormous hit with critics. Each month within the regular IFI programme, we host a special French Film Club screening in partnership with the Alliance Francaise, and to mark the second anniversary of this Club, Pater has been selected as the official French Film Club screening during this year's Festival. As with all Club screenings, IFI and Alliance Francaise members can avail of a special €7 discounted ticket price. We've also selected this screening as a special night for the IFI Best Members. So, to let all our blog readers in on a little secret, we'll be offereing all ticket holders a complimentary glass of French wine after tonight's screening. (Pater will also screen on Wednesday at 4pm).

A major hit at the Venice Film Festival was Abdellatif Kechiche's Black Venus which tells the true story of Sarah Baartman, an African slave exhibited as a freak show attraction  in nineteenth century London and Paris. Yahima Torries is simply astonishing in the lead role, and this is definitely one of the hot tips of this year's Festival.

Service Entrance

If you saw Potiche earlier this year, you'll recognise Fabrice Luchini (Catherine Deneuve's chauvanistic husband in the '60s comedy) in Service Entrance. This is a light-hearted and amusing comedy of worlds colliding as staid banker begins to take pity on the plight of the maids working at his mansion. If you're  a fan of Pedro Almodovar, you'll recognise a lot of the faces from his films.

It looks like the next few days are shaping up to be as busy as the last!

Ross Keane
Public Affairs & Marketing Director

To see the full programme, please visit our website.


Don't miss any Festival updates - follow @IFI_Dub on Twitter and use #IFIFrench

Bernadette: Notes on a Political Journey

Director Lelia Doolan reflects on the making of Bernadette: Notes on a Political Journey

I hadn't thought beyond getting the film finished. 
I hoped that it might give courage to new generations. There were times when Bernadette's prophecy: "It will be found under the bed when we're gone" seemed a definite possibility. She would also ask inconvenient questions like -- "what's the shape of this film?" when I'd still be moseying around in the dark under mountains of archive material asking myself the same question. 

Bernadette McAliskey

We were a small band: herself and myself, Joe Comerford, Gordon Bruic – in vigorous and convivial altercation and debate. Further along the way, Deirdre McAliskey, Deirdre Learmont, Hugh Doolan and a small army of generous-minded pals pushed us along.  
When the pieces were finally quilted together, we sat down together at the Galway Film Fleadh and took a long breath.



The documentary has been on the move since then – to London, to Glasgow and a great human rights gathering there; to Cork, and now for this welcome short run at the IFI before it travels to the north and further afield. 
It seems to have a reviving effect on people’s spirits so far…
So good.

Lelia Doolan
Director of Bernadette: Notes on a Political Journey

Bernadette: Notes on a Political Journey runs exclusively at the IFI from November 18th - 24th. 
For more information & bookings, please visit our website [here]

Friday, November 18, 2011

Job Shadow Initiative Award for the IFI Irish Film Archive


Last April I had the rewarding experience of spending my work day in the company of Darren McCarthy, who was sent from the CRC on the Job Shadow Initiative. Brainchild of the IASE, this scheme teams disabled people with employees nationwide for a day or week every April. Its dual remit is education of companies in the potential benefits disabled people can bring to the workplace, while giving participants an insight into what it is like to work for a company for a day. 

CRC Cert presentation at the Marino College

Credit must go the Lucy Collis, Darren’s key-worker for her fortuitous placement of a candidate with extraordinary suitability for the archive. Darren modestly introduced himself as a film collector, but is more of a curator, having amassed a personal archive of some thousands of film titles on DVD. Moreover, Darren has consolidated one of the largest personal repositories of film titles, with an exhaustive encyclopaedic knowledge of its content.

A cinematic kinship blossomed when I learned Darren was a fellow horror cinema enthusiast. Glaring gaps in my knowledge were filled and I was soon grounded in the realisation that I was a mere fan in the presence of an aficionado of great standing. From Hitchcock to Carpenter, Darren could answer any question on the genre. More impressive still was his talent for instant recall of any gem from his vast trove of film knowledge. This faculty was advanced beyond expertise, and any film organisation would benefit from such an exceptional asset.

Darren McCarthy at the IFI Irish Film Archive

Darren personifies the truth in the old saying ‘there’s no teaching like self-teaching’. His self-taught ethos was a catalytic inspiration for me to reinvigorate my own learning curve. I also felt Darren stimulated my colleagues in a distinct way, both more insightful and endearing that many esteemed visitors from ‘The Industry’ over the years.

For my part I wished to impart to Darren the hands-on experience of repairing a 35mm print post screening, and in urgent need of work. With splicer in hand we set to work on a Steenbeck, an antiquated pre-digital editing machine. We then updated the record for the film in inmagic, the IFA’s database on which its collections are meticulously catalogued. That we gelled as a team was evident in our completion of this task in record time.

In today’s proliferation of googling generalists, it was refreshing to behold Darren’s authoritative knowledge of a specialised field, wrought through years of dedicated film procurement and meticulous study. This was complemented with Darren’s fluid command of the net, evident in scenes he provided to illustrate films under discussion.

Gavin Martin (IFI) collecting the Award

While collecting our respective awards from presidential candidate Seán Gallagher and Lord Mayor Andrew Montague, Darren enthused about an I.T. course he was set to start at Marino College. I hope his exposure to our database will benefit this endeavour, especially if he creates records for his own vast collection some day.

Gavin Martin
Collections Officer
IFI Irish Film Archive

For more information on the IFI Irish Film Archive, visit our website [here].
Watch the IFI Irish Film Archive Preservation Fund film, starring Saoirse Ronan [here].

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The IFI French Film Festival has begun...

The 2011 IFI French Film Festival kicked off last night with the Gala Opening and screening of The Bird.

Maria Manthoulis (Unifrance Films), Director of The Bird Yves Caumon
and French Ambassador Emmanuelle D'Achon at the Gala Opening

After months of planning and preparation, the IFI French Film Festival finally kicked off in style last night with a gala screening of Yves Caumon's beautiful film The Bird. The Festival was officially opened by Sarah Glennie, Director of the IFI, Emmanuelle D'Achon, French Ambassador, and Yves Caumon, director of The Bird.

To a packed cinema, Yves Caumon charmed the audience and even posed the question of why cinemas around the world seem to be predominantly full of women?! The screening was followed by a Q&A with Yves, and then by the annual reception where the French wine flowed and the cheese went down a treat!

Yves Caumon introducing his film The Bird

But we can't all sit back now that the Festival has started as we're straight into the next 11 days (and nights) of films, discussions and guests. For anyone who missed the opening film last night (tickets sold out quite some time ago), there's a second chance to see The Bird this evening, and Yves Caumon will once again participate in a Q&A.


Declaration of War

There's an abundance of highlights to choose from over the next few days. France's official submission for next year's Oscars, Declaration of War, is on tonight (and will be screened again on Sunday evening) and is certainly one not-to-be-missed. Star of two films in this year's Festival, Catherine Deneuve has her first outing in His Mother's Eyes on Sunday evening, an intricately plotted study of mother-child relationships.

House of Tolerance

One of the standout films from Cannes this year, and one of the hottest tips of the Festival, is Bertrand Bonello's House of Tolerance which follows the lives and interweaving stories of prostitutes within a Parisian brothel. This may be your only opportunity to see this remarkable film, so seize the opportunity! And we're all ready to receive the second (of many) special guests at this year's Festival. Director Philippe Ramos will be with us on Friday and Saturday to introduce his film about Joan of Arc, The Silence of Joan.

Philippe Ramos

Meanwhile, back at the IFI Café Bar, we've suddenly come over all French and are offering a selection of tantalising Gallic specials for the duration of the Festival. You can even pre-book your table by calling the bar on 01 679 8712.

A bientot!

Ross Keane
Public Affairs & Marketing Director

To see the full programme, please visit our website.
Do not miss any Festival updates - follow @IFI_Dub on Twitter and use #IFIFrench

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Launch of GAA Football Gold DVD - 9th November, Croke Park

Last Wednesday, the IFI decamped to the Mecca of the GAA, Croke Park, for the launch of our second GAA DVD. GAA Football Gold features footage of the 1947 to 1958 All Ireland finals which have been preserved by the IFI Irish Film Archive and is now made available to all GAA fans and anyone interested in the era. We were delighted that John Costello, Secretary of the Dublin GAA, brought a very special guest along with him, the Sam Maguire. Possibly the most popular guest of the day if the number of IFI staff and even the Minister's staff who wanted to get a photograph taken with the cup were anything to go by.

Bernard Brogan, Pat Giroy and Kasandra O'Connell (IFI)

Pat Gilroy, Dublin All Ireland winning manager and Bernard Brogan from the Dublin team made time in their very busy schedule to join us. It was fitting that since Dublin won the All Ireland this year, that they got an opportunity to pay tribute to the men that came before them, whose achievements are no less worthy of celebrating and recalling as the team of today. 

From the 1955/1958 Dublin panels we were delighted to welcome Paddy O Flaherty, Jim Crowley, Mick Moylan, Sean “Yank” Murray, Cyril Freaney, Cathal O Leary, Norman Allen who suffered an appendicitis before the 1955 All Ireland final and could not play but still features as he is introduced as one of the linesmen before the 1953 All Ireland final, Johnny Joyce, who holds the record for highest scoring player in a single championship match and GAA legend and former Dublin captain Kevin Heffernan and my own father Jimmy Gray a sub in 1955.

GAA Footballers 1955/58 with Annmarie Gray and Kasandra O'Connell (IFI)

Amongst all these Dublin players, came a brave Kerry man, Minister Jimmy Deenihan who was delighted to be able to formally launch our DVD despite the Dublin centric nature of the event. He did assure us Dublin wouldn't win it again! He did however take the opportunity to take credit for Dublin's All Ireland win last September by being introducing the Brogan brothers' mother and father to each other. The GAA is obviously something that is close to the Minister's heart and he spoke at length and with great passion about the era, which included many successful Kerry players.

As someone who was born and bred into the GAA, I was delighted to introduce the event; Kasandra O'Connell, Head of the IFI Irish Film Archive also gave a speech detailing the work that went in to producing this DVD and the importance of our collection of GAA footage.

Dublin's All-Ireland winners Bernard Brogan (2011) and Kevin Heffernan (1958), and Minister Jimmi Deenihan

After the speeches, we watched a selection of clips from the DVD, including the 1958 final. It was great to see the former players point each other out, tease each other, and slap each other on the back for their performance especially as they were seeing the highlights of their final for the first time in over 50 years. In this era of DVDs, video recorders, youtube etc. it is hard to imagine that the record of such a significant day would be left to statistics, scorelines, a match report and fading memories. Nothing can replace the experience of seeing the matches again, to replicate the excitement, the drama, the heartbreak and the triumph. Due to the work of the IFI Irish Film Archive, these memories will never fade and the production of the DVD means that a new generation can appreciate how the game has changed and developed and can be reminded of past glories. It is a perfect Christmas present!

Profits from the DVD will go towards the IFI Irish Film Archive Preservation Fund.

Annmarie Gray
IFI Deputy Director

For more information on previous DVDs released by the IFI Irish Film Archive, including GAA Hurling Gold, Irish Destiny, Seoda or The O'Kalem Collection, please visit our website.

For orders and information on other DVD releases, please contact IFI Film Shop on 01 679 5727 or email: filmshop@irishfilm.ie


Friday, November 4, 2011

The IFI in Washington


The IFI has been working on a number of major projects in the US as part of Imagine Ireland, Culture Ireland’s year of Irish Arts in America 2011.

And so, as the curtain went down on Guests of the Nation; we raised a post-show glass to composers, foley and film-making artistes; snatched a very few hours of sleep and jumped on a train for our next engagement – a Ciné-concert at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC.

This Other Eden: Ireland and Film

The concert was to be the climax of This Other Eden: Ireland and Film, a film series which ran in the National Gallery between Aug 27th and Sep 25th.  Curated by IFI International alongside Peggy Parsons – one of the most highly regarded film curators in the US – the film series looked at the relationship between storytelling, literature and real life as refracted in the kaleidoscope of Irish fiction and non-fiction film.

Ross Keane, Sarah Glennie and I arrived somewhat bleary eyed in the nation’s capital but soon rallied as we marvelled at its grandeur, at the spakling white government buildings and the tree-lined mall stretching away as far as the eye could see – a relief after the hustle and bustle of New York



Our first appointment was at the Irish Embassy in Washington where Kevin Conmy, Deputy Chief of Mission hosted a reception (coordinated by Deirdre Bourke and Noreen Hallinan) celebrating the success of the film series.  He welcomed guests of the National Gallery of Art, the marvellous Washington-Irish cultural group - Solas Nua;  of Culture Ireland and of the American Ireland funds. Also in town were a group of Irish Military History Society members – over on an American Civil War research visit. The guests were treated to a foretaste of the full ciné-concert when Aran island fiddler Dr Aine Ni Chonghaile (on a fellowship in Notre Dame, South Bend, Illinois) accompanied by the short film His Mother (1912) to the great delight of all – particularly the military historians who, as a group, were probably least exposed to silent film and music presentations but who responded in the most enthusiastic, untutored fashion with great guffaws of delight at the film’s charming narrative.

Deirdre’s fellow musicians, all from Inis Oírr, arrived into town later that evening. They were gathered to reprise their performance of Aran of the Saints (1932) (premiered on the Aran Islands, Summer 2011) and to present a further three films with music performed as solo, duet and full ensemble pieces. On Saturday morning Deirdre, piper, Micheál Ó hAlmhain, his daughter, champion harpist Caitríona Ní Almhain and vocalist MacDara Ó Chonaola arose bright and early, starbucked themselves, gathered instruments (bodhráns, pipes, a Norwegian fiddle lent by Ms Loretta Kelly and a Harp lent by Washington instrument maker, Eric Kemper) and headed for the breathtaking east wing of the National Gallery of Art. A rigorous day of practise followed  – rehearsals to date had been by skype - and now, after months apart, the team were to meet face to face to fuse their talents and create a traditional Irish soundscape for the films. After  a hard day’s work we headed to nearby Fairfax Virginia where the serendipitously-scheduled Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann / Irish Traditional Music Festival was taking place – a chance for me to distribute fliers for the next day’s event and for the  musicians to meet up with a handful of old friends and see some of North America’s finest musicians strutting their stuff.



We reconvened at the Gallery on Sunday to continue rehearsals and to prepare the auditorium for our concert.  The auditorium is a beautifully appointed  space – intimate yet with a 450 capacity. And then the audience began to arrive – a smattering of familiar faces from the Fairfax Fest; from the Embassy and from Solas Nua; and Kim Tomadjoglu from the American Film Institute. But more interesting perhaps were the hundreds of unfamiliar faces – regular Gallery attendees whose primary interest was in exploring new cinema, and in finding new ways of engaging with old cinema.  It was fascinating to expose this audiences (with probably no previous significant experience of Irish cinema) to an eclectic mix of Irish material – films about a short-lived whaling station on Iniskea, a surreal travelogue from 1922 featuring the ghost of Disraeli and President William Cosgrave’s mother, one about a peasant fiddler and finally the Catholic Film Society’s precursor of Flaherty’s iconic Man of Aran - all this and real live Gaelic-speaking Aran islanders too! 

National Gallery Curator Peggy Parsons summed up the success of the series thusly ….

“For the thousands who came to view the films (the total recorded attendance was 3,600), the series was both a wonderful eye-opener and a very palpable source of pleasure – surprising in terms of its depth, breadth, and novelty – with a coherent structure that afforded a concentrated view of Irish history, mythology and literature unlike anything else that has taken place in Washington in recent years.”

It was an honour to collaborate with this national cultural institution and to further the reach of our cultural exhibition programme through the support of Imagine Ireland – Culture Ireland’s programme of Irish Arts in the US.  A most welcome outcome of the project is a heightened interest in and receptiveness to new Irish cinema in Washington  and we look forward to an on-going programme of new Irish cinema at Solus Nua and at the National Gallery.

Sunniva O'Flynn
IFI Curator

For more information on IFI Irish Film Archive and it's recent IFI Irish Film Archive Preservation Fund campaign, featuring Saoirse Ronan, visit: http://www.ifi.ie/preservationfund/

Visit Imagine Ireland website http://www.imagineireland.ie/ for more information on other events featuring Irish arts in America. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

November at the IFI

Welcome to the IFI’s November programme and our annual celebration of French Cinema.

The IFI French Film Festival: Beloved

The IFI French Film Festival returns this month with a fantastic programme bringing you the best of new French cinema, and a chance to rediscover the work of some of its greats. We are delighted to be joined by leading figures in contemporary French Cinema: actors Sandrine Kiberlain and Jean-Pierre Darroussin, and directors Yves Caumon and Philippe Ramos. Distinguished critic Michel Ciment returns to the Festival for a screening of his new documentary on Kubrick and for a public discussion with one of our very special guests, distinguished director Claude Miller. This promises to be a fascinating encounter between two people who have done so much to define French Cinema and is not to be missed.

Film director Claude Miller

A focus for this year’s Festival is a special programme to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the Prix Jean Vigo. Established in 1951 the Prix aims to recognise directors whose work demonstrates a passion for cinema, a sense of innovation, and independence of mind – qualities associated with Jean Vigo himself. This visionary approach has ensured that the list of past winners includes France’s most distinctive filmmakers, and some extraordinary films – a selection of which we have been delighted to screen over the last few weeks. The programme continues during the Festival with the screening of previous winners and two films by Jean Vigo himself. We are honoured that Luce Vigo, President of the Prix and Jean Vigo’s daughter will be joining us to introduce the programme.

Prix Jean Vigo: All The Fine Promises

All this and 21 Irish premieres including some of the most celebrated titles from this year’s Cannes and Venice film festivals.  For more information on the full programme see www.ifi.ie or the separate Festival programme available in the IFI. The Festival would not be possible without the support of the French Embassy in Ireland and we are very grateful to the Ambassador, and all our Festival partners, for their continued support of what has become one of Dublin’s cultural highlights.

The IFI French Film Festival: The Bird

The IFI Irish Film Archive is custodian of one of Ireland’s most remarkable resources – our nation’s film. Preserving and making this extraordinary collection accessible to the public is central to the work of the IFI and we have exciting plans for a much-needed new IFI Irish Film Archive Preservation and Research Centre which will provide the Archive with a secure new home, and allow us to grow and develop in the future. We are launching a major fundraising campaign to help us achieve this and a very familiar face will be popping up on our screens to ask for your help – please take a moment to listen.

The IFI Irish Film Archive

The IFI Irish Film Archive tells the story of Ireland’s cultural, social and political journey throughout the last century and it is essential we make sure this vital resource is there for future generations. Your help with this is very much appreciated.

Sarah Glennie
Director

For more information and bookings, visit the IFI French Film Festival website (http://www.irishfilm.ie/french2011).  

Join the conversation on Twitter - use #IFIFrench and follow @IFI_Dub or find us on Facebook/IrishFilmInstitute for Festival updates, news and ticket competitions!