Monday, February 28, 2011

March at the IFI

The IFI’s March programme features the first 3D screenings at the IFI, exciting new Irish director Juanita Wilson’s first feature, and a major IFI collaboration in New York.

This month’s programme really does add a new dimension to the IFI, as Werner Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams will be the first film released here in 3D. This powerful technology has revolutionised and reinvigorated the cinema-going experience for many. What its impact on quality drama and documentary will be in the long term remains a controversial question, but one that lifelong innovators like Herzog will not shy away from exploring in the coming years. The documentary is a rare glimpse of the ancient paintings of the Chauvet Cave and I hope that the grown-up subject may tempt a few members and patrons to come to the IFI for their first 3D experience.

Cave of Forgotten Dreams

March sees the start of an exciting year of IFI International activity in the U.S. as part of Imagine Ireland, Culture Ireland’s year of Irish arts in America 2011. We start with Hidden Ireland, a three-month long documentary film series drawn from the IFI Irish Film Archive and presented in collaboration with the New York Library of the Performing Arts at the Lincoln Centre. The series will offer New York audiences fascinating insights into contemporary Irish life and into the past that has shaped it. It explores perceptions of Ireland as moulded by America, comprising films about Ireland; about Irish experience in the U.S.; about a living culture within a diasporic community; about exile and home-coming; and a series of new documentaries made by Irish people as they consider Irish society today.

IFI International

Closer to home, IFI National will be at the excellent Killruddery Film Festival (March 10th-13th) with a fascinating programme of recently restored early silent Kalem films, and a series of rediscovered silent films for children from the IFI Irish Film Archive.

Following the extraordinary success of her Oscar-nominated short film The Door, we are delighted that Irish writer-director Juanita Wilson will be joining us at the IFI to discuss the release of her uncompromising and highly recommended first feature, As If I Am Not There, following a female teacher’s harrowing experience of the horrors of the Yugoslav Wars. Another new Irish release to look out for is Mark O’Connor’s Between the Canals, a pulsating crime drama set in Dublin on St. Patrick’s Day which features a cast drawn from the north inner city and musician Damien Dempsey in his debut acting role!

As If I Am Not There

Few people stake a claim to a life as creatively productive and varied as Jerzy Skolimowski, the veteran Polish filmmaker who has also chalked up considerable achievements as a boxer, poet and latterly a painter. The IFI is delighted to welcome him to Dublin for a preview of his new film Essential Killing and a season of his work; a key event for fans of European cinema.

Jerzy Skolimowski

All this alongside the latest Woody Allen, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, a pair of Truffaut re-releases and the hotly-anticipated Submarine – join us for a busy springtime at the IFI.

Sarah Glennie

Friday, February 11, 2011

Matt Damon - True Grit

Matt Damon likes to joke that it’s taken the Coen Brothers sixteen long years to offer him a job. “Yeah, and then along came True Grit,” he smiles. “So it was worth the wait…”

Joel and Ethan Coen are extraordinary filmmakers, he says, and when they first approached him to ask if he’d be interested in working together there wasn’t a moment’s hesitation – even though, at that point, he hadn’t seen a script. The fact that it was a Coen Brothers movie was enough. “If the Coen Brothers ask you to work with Jeff Bridges on True Grit, that’s easy,” he says. “I was in before I knew what the movie was. And then I looked at it and the script is great and unlike anything I’ve had the chance to do before so it was a really easy decision.”

Damon first met the Coens back in 1994 when, as a young actor still making his name, he was cast alongside Frances McDormand – Joel’s wife – in a Tommy Lee Jones’ directed made-for-TV western called The Good Old Boys. Years later, their paths crossed again. The Coens were directing Billy Bob Thornton in The Man Who Wasn’t There. Damon and Thornton had been friends ever since they made All The Pretty Horses together and Matt would visit his friend on set. “I have a lot of friends who have worked with them – George (Clooney), Brad (Pitt), Billy Bob,” he says. “I was on the set of The Man Who Wasn’t There – I went to visit Billy a few times and you talk to crew members, guys like Roger (Deakins, director of photography), and they all say ‘you really should work with Joel and Ethan, you would love them..’ So it’s something everybody knows and everybody is always trying to get a job (with them). I was dying to work with them and any actor you talk to would say the same thing. If you ask for a short list of directors, they would be right there.”

True Grit is based on Charles Portis’ classic novel set in the rugged, brutal un-tamed American West of the 1870s. Newcomer Hailee Steinfeld plays Mattie Ross, a 14-year-old girl determined to seek vengeance for her father who has been murdered by the 'coward' Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin).

She hires a trigger happy, drunken Marshall, Rooster Cogbugn (Jeff Bridges) to track Chaney down and bring him to justice. Cogburn has the quality she is looking for – as she puts it, he has “true grit.” They then discover that a Texas Ranger, LaBoeuf (played by Damon), is already chasing the killer and is determined to take him back to his home state and collect a handsome reward. For Damon, finally getting the opportunity to work with the Coen Brothers lived up to, and indeed exceeded, his high expectations. “Completely and for a whole host of reasons besides being genuinely nice people. Each phase of the process was a real pleasure,” he says. “For a start it was a wonderful screenplay – it’s a great adaptation of the book. And then they sent us all storyboards where we could literally open this giant book and look at the shot design of the film. It was basically like looking at the movie in cartoon form before you go and make it. So you got all of this information before you even enter into the process of production, and then within production, they have an incredible flexibility in terms of being available to good ideas that happen in the moment. And so it’s just that kind of combination, which really means that they’ve got total mastery of the process of directing.”

Working with Ms Steinfeld, who makes her feature film debut in True Grit, was a pleasure, he says. Indeed, he pays her the compliment of comparing her to a young Jodie Foster. “She’s quite extraordinary,” he says. ”She’s thirteen years old and I wouldn’t believe that a thirteen year old would really be capable of this type of performance. It’s a really tough role but she’s just got an enormous amount of poise. I would go back and forth to Texas when we were shooting and I would go home and say to my wife ‘this girl reminds me of Jodie Foster..’ And I hope for Hailee that she is like Jodie because the business can be brutal and Jodie Foster is an example of somebody who clearly has a great deal of intelligence and talent and has come through it and has got the better of the business rather than the other way round. She’s emerged as a great artist, and by all accounts a great human being, and I’m hoping that’s what Hailee has in store for her. She’s really bright and she’s a really good kid. And this was a wonderful environment for her because there was a crew and a cast full of parents and people who wanted to create a good environment for her. But it’s not always like that and I think we were mindful of that. We all felt a certain sense of responsibility for her.”

Damon had never worked with Jeff Bridges before although, he recalls, he did get the chance to read with him some fifteen years ago.  “I knew Jeff’s work obviously, and was a big, big fan. I reminded him that I’d once auditioned with him. He was reading for potential sidekicks for the movie Wild Bill and I had worked with (director) Walter Hill and so I got to come in and read with Jeff Bridges, which was great. He was very nice to me. He, of course, didn’t remember because he’d probably read with 100 guys but that was my one Jeff Bridges encounter. So it was great to work with Jeff and to see him in action. I feel like a lot of actors approach their work out of a place of darkness, and I think that’s a very effective way to do it and a lot of great performances have been created that way, but I think there are other actors who come predominantly out of a place of joy, and that to me is Jeff. The environment is just joyful when he’s working - we had a lot of fun and I laughed a lot.”

Damon’s character in True Grit, LaBoeuf, likes to tell a story especially if it concerns his own past exploits – much to the annoyance of Cogburn. It’s ironic then, that after a violent encounter with a band of outlaws LaBoeuf nearly bites off is own tongue. But even that doesn’t stop him holding court. The actor reveals that he used one of his daughter’s hair bands to help make the speech impediment sound authentic. “I figured out how to do it a few months before,” he explains. “I took one of my daughter’s hair bands and wrapped it around my tongue to kind of give myself that handicap and then tried to speak normally and it just worked really well. I had dinner with Joel and Fran (McDormand) here in New York a few months before we started shooting and said ‘let me show you..’ And I pulled the hair band out, wrapped it around my tongue and he liked it and so we stuck with that.”

Damon is a big fan of the western genre and, he says, True Grit is a faithful adaptation of Portis’ highly acclaimed novel. “It’s hard to find material that feels like it’s not just a retread of something,” he says. “But this is a western that deserved to be made. I read everything and I hadn’t come across a script that was this good, with directors of this calibre and a role like this. It was a very easy decision for me. I’d say it is a very faithful adaptation of the book, and obviously there are some corners you need to cut to tell a story in two hours but I think this is a pretty faithful rendering of the book.”

Damon, 40, was born in Boston, Massachusetts and first started acting at school. He attended Harvard University to study English and after college returned to acting, winning small roles in Mystic Pizza and School Ties. His performance as a drug-addicted soldier in Courage Under Fire (1996), for which he had lost 40lbs in body weight, earned him strong reviews. In 1997 he won the Oscar for Best Screenplay for Good Will Hunting, along with his childhood friend, Ben Affleck. In recent years, he starred in the hugely successful Bourne trilogy, playing Jason Bourne, a former government secret agent who has lost his memory and is desperately trying to piece his old life back together. His other credits include Saving Private Ryan, The Talented Mr Ripley, All The Pretty Horses, The Legend of Bagger Vance, Ocean’s Eleven, The Good Shepherd and The Informant.

Damon and his wife, Luciana, have four daughters and live in New York City.

Watch the trailer here. True Grit opens on Friday, February 11th.

Article courtesy Paramount.

Jeff Bridges - True Grit

By Donna Walker-Mitchell

Q: Hi Jeff, how are you?
A: Great thanks, I couldn’t be better.

Q: What made you want to do this film, True Grit?
A: It was the Coen brothers really (Joel and Ethan). They’re great writers, for one thing. The dialogue they write feels very real and appropriate for the story they are telling. I worked with them on The Big Lebowski (in 1998) and people often think there was a lot of improvisation on that movie, but all of those lines were scripted. They’re incredible.

Jeff Bridges in True Grit

Q: You play Marshal Reuben J ‘Rooster’ Cogburn who seems quite tough and hard. How easy or difficult was it to empathise with him?
A: Well, I’m not hard (laughs). I think being hard means being gruff, mean and that you don’t like too many people. That’s not me. I like people and I’m more light and airy. I’m not hard in any way.  He’s a wonderful character and he’s fascinating. He’s kind of full of himself and standoffish when you first meet him. But it turns out, he loves talking about himself, he’s probably starved for company and he likes a drink.

Q: John Wayne won an Oscar for this part in the 1969 film. How much of a challenge was it to make this role your own?
A: The first bit of direction the Coen brothers gave me, because I was curious as to why they wanted to do a remake of this classic western, was ‘We’re not making a remake of the western. We’re referring to the book that Charles Portis wrote.’ I read the book and then I knew what they were talking about. It’s a wonderful book and it’s not something unlike the Coen brothers might make. I could instantly see them doing it. I didn’t refer to the John Wayne movie.

Q: Is that because you didn’t want him influencing your own version of Rooster?
A: Well, John Wayne is such an important figure in cinema, but I really took the Coen brothers’ direction to heart. I never thought ‘How did John Wayne do this?’ I didn’t mess with that at all. I just did it as if there had never been any other movie basically.

Q: What was the best thing for you personally about making True Grit?
A: One of the best things about doing this movie was that I invited my daughter Jessie to be my assistant on this movie so she was with me every step of the way. She plays guitar, sings and writes and we even put on a few concerts while I was doing this film. We did one concert in Sante Fe which was terrific.

Q: You also shot Crazy Heart in Sante Fe, right?
A: I did. Actually, I stayed in the very same house again while making True Grit. It was like coming home again for me.

Q: This film is based more on the book than the original film. How would you best describe the differences?
A: Well, the story is roughly the same. The approach to it, just the look of it, is trying to be as authentic as possible. This one feels like it’s representing that time a little more accurately though.

Q: Is a lot of the script directly from the book?
A: Yes, it is. I think in the original film, they used dialogue from the book too and no wonder because the dialogue from the book is just wonderful.

Q: You’ve worked with some incredible directors in your career. What makes the Coen brothers so special for you?
A: Each director is so unique, but I love working with the Coen brothers. They create an atmosphere on set which is very relaxed and pleasant. They surround themselves with people they have worked with many times before so there was a real family atmosphere on this set.

Q: Since working with the Coen brothers on The Big Lebowski, have you noticed a change in their style of directing?
A: Not really, no. Joel cut his ponytail, that’s about it (laughs).

Jeff Bridges in The Big Lebowski

Q: Matt Damon said ‘yes’ to this film before he even saw a script. Did you feel the same way?
A: Well, when I first heard about True Grit, I was in the middle of making Tron. It’s always disconcerting and kind of pisses me off when I get offered a movie while I’m making a movie, especially when it’s a movie that really sounds interesting. I knew as soon as I heard about it that I was going to like it. I’d been dying to work with the Coen brothers again for so long. Whenever they invite you to come play, you know it’s going to be so cool.

Q: I understand there was plenty of horse riding in this film, which you’d be quite comfortable with, I’d imagine.
A: Very. I have a ranch up in Montana and I love to ride up there. But riding the horse and doing the battle scenes was tough because I’m used to riding horses, but not with the reins in my teeth, holding two guns with a patch over one eye! I did the battle scene once on a mechanical horse and then Joel said to me ‘All right. Let’s do this for real.’

Q: How has your life changed since winning the Oscar for Best Actor?
A: It really hasn’t changed too much at all. I went straight back to work the day after I won on True Grit, so that was just as well.

Q: Where do you keep your Oscar?
A: My wife has collected all of my awards and she has put them on a shelf in between the kitchen and the dining room.

Q: Speaking of your wife, your marriage is remarkable for its longevity. You’ve been married for 33 years now.
A: You know, it was pretty much love at first sight. My prized possession is something I have in my pocket. I was making a movie up in Montana about 36 years ago. All during this scene I keep looking at this girl who is absolutely gorgeous.  I couldn’t take my eyes off her. I finally get my courage up to ask her out for a date. She said no, but added ‘It’s a small town, maybe I’ll see you around.’ Well, that turned out to be true. We met and fell in love and that’s my wife. Now the end of that story, 15 years after that when we’d been married, I was at my desk opening mail and stuff and I get a letter from the make-up man in that show. It said ‘I was going through my things and I found a photo of you asking a local girl out. I thought you might want this photograph.’ I have two photographs – a close-up of her and a shot of the exact moment she said no when I first asked her out on a date. Whenever I doubt, is she the woman I should be with, I think about this moment and several other moments in our relationship and I think, there is no doubt. That’s my leading lady.

Q: Have you always been a fan of westerns?
A: Oh yeah. I remember my father (Lloyd Bridges) making westerns when I was a kid. I used to love it when he’d come home and he’d still have his costume on. I would put his hat on and his boots then call my friends and say ‘You have to come over. You should see what my Dad has here!’ I love westerns and always have.

Q: In your opinion, what makes a good western?
A: I like westerns that transport you back into those times, that feel very authentic. I’m not too big of a fan of ones that over-romanticise the genre. It was a fascinating time in our history.

Q: Do you have a favourite western you like to watch over and over again?
A: My father made a classic - High Noon. I also love She Wore A Yellow Ribbon and Red River, all those John Ford, Howard Hawks movies.

Q: When did you first read the book, True Grit?
A: I read it as soon as I found out about this film and its always exciting when you’re making a film based on a book because the book fills in all the gaps and answers any questions you might have.

Q: Can you talk about what it was like working with Matt Damon and Josh Brolin?
A: I hadn’t worked with either of them before, but I admired both of those guys. Matt and I had quite a few scenes together, but Josh and I didn’t, so I can only really talk of Matt. It was really great working with him and we hung out together when we weren’t working and really got to know each other. Matt has wonderful comic timing and he had great commitment to this role.

Q: For a film which deals with some serious issues, it also sounds like audiences will get a laugh out of this movie too.
A: Definitely. I think it’s good comedy, which comes out of the seriousness of the situation.

Q: With parents who were both actors, did you feel like you were born to be an actor or did you ever want to do anything else?
A: Growing up, I thought maybe I’d be a musician or get into art, painting and sculpting. I’ve been able to keep those alive. That’s one of the best things about acting for me, is that you get to use all of your extra curricular stuff. It all applies.

Q: What’s the most valuable piece of advice you’ve ever received and who gave it to you?
A: My father taught me all the basics of acting so that has always stuck with me. My mother was an actress - in fact she was probably the best actor of the group - but she kind of gave it up to be a professional mother. She was a wonderful mum. She gave me the best advice though. Every time I’d go off and work she’d always say ‘Now remember. Have fun!’ Then she’d also say, ‘And don’t take it too seriously.’ My wife now tells me the same thing and it’s a great reminder because you can forget sometimes.

Q: Do you think you’ll like to retire one day?
A: I think about it every once in a while. I think it would be good to retire every couple of years and then go back to work. That would suit me fine. Like my Mum tried to instill in me, I’ll keep doing this as long as I’m having fun and I’m certainly still doing that.

Watch the trailer here. True Grit opens on Friday, February 11th.

Article courtesy Paramount.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Coen Brothers – True Grit

A few years ago the Coen Brothers started toying with the idea of making a movie out of one of their favourite books – Charles Portis’ much loved novel, True Grit.

For Joel and Ethan, this tale of a young girl’s quest to seek justice for the death of her father – aided by two, vivid, colourful hard-bitten lawmen – provided all the raw ingredients for a classic western. “It’s a very simple story, it’s just a girl going to avenge her father’s death,” says Ethan. “But actually, like No Country For Old Men, it’s a pursuit story. They are going after the bad guy and it just seemed like very promising material for a movie. It’s funny and it has really strong characters, particularly the young girl, who is a very determined character who refuses to give up.” Joel adds: “It’s very interesting that the main character is a kid and it’s a movie that kids can go and see. We hadn’t done that before and it has a different kind of flavour. And like Ethan says, it’s very simple – the kid goes off looking for her father’s killer. We liked the power of that story. It made it very attractive to us.”

True Grit is set in the rugged, brutal un-tamed American West of the 1870s. Newcomer Hailee Steinfeld plays Mattie Ross, a 14-year-old girl determined to seek vengeance for her father who has been murdered by the 'coward' Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin). She hires a trigger happy, drunken Marshall, Rooster Cogbugn (Jeff Bridges) to track Chaney down and bring him to justice. Cogburn has the quality she is looking for – as she puts it, he has “true grit.” They then discover that a Texas Ranger, LaBoeuf (played by Damon), is already chasing the killer and is determined to take him back to his home state and collect a handsome reward.

Casting the young girl who would play Mattie Ross was crucial because the story is driven by her quest. The Coens admit that after a sweep that had seen the production audition thousands of young hopefuls they were beginning to get a little anxious about finding the right actress for the part. And then Hailee Steinfeld walked in and their search was over. She is, they say, a “natural” who handled the pressure on her slender shoulders with ease. “Yeah, we were kind of getting worried,” says Ethan. “It’s funny, we saw some interesting girls, and it’s so important to get that role right. And you start convincing yourself that, ‘oh this girl is good’ or ‘she’s interesting..’ And you sort of force yourself to think that would work, even when they are not perfect.  And then we met Hailee at kind of the 11th hour and she was perfect and she’s great, so that was a big relief because then you can stop trying to convince yourself that Plan B is good enough.”

Hailee is relatively inexperienced actress and True Grit marks her feature film debut. In the past, she has appeared in commercials and had a role in Kelsey Grammar’s short-lived television series, Back to You. She also made a TV pilot for Nickelodeon. “So she had done a little bit, but not a lot, a small amount of stuff,” says Joel. “She wasn’t a rank amateur in the sense that you know, a kid from the middle of nowhere who had never been in front of the camera before but on the other hand it was very limited.
“But she’s only 13, so how much experience could she have? I guess there are 13 year olds with lots of experience. In fact, we saw some of those and you have to be careful sometimes with too much experience at that age. But, she’s certainly a natural in terms of being comfortable in her stuff and she wasn’t intimidated by anyone or by the process. I think we sort of knew when we cast her that that was going to work, and then there was a certain amount of relief when we started filming and she was
just great.”

The Coens had memorably worked with Jeff Bridges twelve years ago on one of their best-loved films, The Big Lebowski. Bridges had played The Dude, a bowling loving, dope smoking slacker who gets mixed up in a kidnap plot. The film, which also starred John Goodman and John Turturro, has gained cult status amongst its legions of fans all over the world. “We had talked about it working with Jeff again but it’s just always the question of finding the right thing,” says Joel. True Grit was the perfect project, they felt, and Bridges was their only choice to play the gnarled lawman Rooster Cogburn, who has gone to seed, physically, but is still a force to be reckoned with. “Jeff was obvious really right off the bat once we actually started thinking about it, because actually, to tell you the truth, the list is not long when you get into that age, that kind of physicality,” says Joel. “And Jeff, because we’d worked with him before, was the first person that we thought of. We thought, ‘why look any further?’ Because he’d be really good in this part and we asked him to do it and fortunately he said yes.”

Bridges, who won the Best Actor Academy Award in 2010 for his performance as a washed up country musician in Crazy Heart, embraced the part of Rooster Cogburn with gusto, tackling many of his own stunts. “It’s really funny because it’s a very specific age and condition, not as specific as it is with the girl, where like two years either way means she’s wrong,” says Ethan. “But Jeff is like, well he’s great first of all, but he’s like old enough, fat enough. I mean, he’s not in perfect shape and you can’t have a perfect health, fitness and beauty gym rat body because that would be wrong but he also had to be robust enough to do the part because it’s demanding stuff.” Joel adds: “Jeff did most of his own riding and he did most of the stunts - most of what you see happening in that movie is Jeff, with the exception of some of the riding where there was no reason to use him because he was too far away.”

Matt Damon plays LaBoeuf, the talkative Texas Ranger who rides with Cogburn and Mattie on the trail of Tom Chaney and the gang of outlaws he’s with. Damon is a leading man in his own right but he’s also a character actor who takes pride in losing himself in a role. “We had seen Matt in The Departed and it was one of those kinds of roles where he was playing a character that wasn’t the classic The Green Zone character he does so well,” says Joel. “He wasn’t the leading man or Bourne Identity guy.
“He’s a guy that we’ve wanted to work with for a long time because he’s great, a very interesting actor. I think Ethan suggested him first of all, very early on.”

Brolin had worked with the Coen Brothers before, on their Oscar winning drama No Country For Old Men. “Once we thought of Jeff for Rooster we couldn’t think of anybody else because he was so perfect. And Matt was the same,” says Ethan. “We didn’t want to think about alternatives and fortunately they both wanted to do it so we didn’t have to. And with Josh Brolin we just assumed that he would be something in the movie, although we couldn’t figure out which role for a while. We knew we wanted him to be one of the bad guys and for some reason we thought he should be the coward,” he laughs.

True Grit was filmed on location in New Mexico and West Texas. It was, they say, a tough shoot with bad weather making conditions far worse than they anticipated. “It was a difficult movie. It’s very much an exterior movie and the weather was terrible, we had to scramble around,” says Ethan. “And everything involved in a Western is, of course, difficult – the locations, the horses – but it ended up not being as bad as we feared. The horse wranglers were great and they did a great job.” Joel adds: “We were out in snow, 50 mile an hour winds, it was a harder movie from a production point of view, than O Brother or No Country for Old Men. The weather was less cooperative, the conditions were more difficult and the elements were more extreme.”

Both the Coen brothers are fans of Portis’s novel, which was first published in 1968. There was also a 1969 film of the book, starring John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn. “We had seen the movie when we were kids, so we knew it, although we hadn’t remembered it very well,” says Joel. “We remembered enough of it to know that whatever it was, it was sufficiently different from what we were doing, that we didn’t really have to worry about it. People ask about whether the previous movie was a factor at all, whether it was intimidating in any way, but honestly, we weren’t thinking about it much – we were thinking about the novel and really didn’t care that they’d made a movie about it with John Wayne.”

Joel, 56, and Ethan, 54, were born and raised in St Louis Park, Minnesota, and started making movies on a Super 8 camera as children. Joel studied film at New York University and Ethan is a philosophy graduate from Princeton.  In 1984, the brothers wrote and directed Blood Simple, a noir thriller set in Texas. Three years later they made Raising Arizona, starring Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter, which was screened out of competition at the Cannes Film Festival and established their reputation as two of the most innovative filmmakers working today.

Their other films are Miller’s Crossing, Barton Fink, The Hudsucker Proxy, Fargo – which was nominated for seven Oscars, winning two (Best Actress for Frances McDormand and Best Original Screenplay) – The Big Lebowski, The Man Who Wasn’t There, Intolerable Cruelty, The Ladykillers, No Country For Old Men – nominated for 8 Academy Awards, winning four including Best Picture – Burn After Reading and A Serious Man.

Watch the trailer here. True Grit opens on Friday, February 11th.

Article courtesy Paramount.

IFI Education Spring 2011

As the sun sets on a winter which threatened to send us back to the ice age, February heralds several welcome arrivals. The stretching daffodil days of spring around the corner and the new IFI Education Spring/Summer Programme for schools! As the award season heats up and the plaudits curtsy to the multi-Oscar-nominated The King’s Speech, we kick off our programme for schools on February 10th with another critically acclaimed Oscar contender, The Social Network. Jesse Eisenberg plays Mark Zuckerberg, the fresh-faced Harvard graduate whose brainwave spawned the social networking phenomenon that has changed the way we communicate, and given him riches beyond that of a monarch. We ran this film for our Teen Film Club back in October and had an overwhelmingly positive response, and so its place in our programme was ensured. A second date is scheduled for March 8th at the IFI, and it will also screen at The Model in Sligo on Mar 10th and Roscommon Arts Centre on April 14th. 
Here are the highlights of our current schools programme:
Made in Dagenham (Mar 1) – humorous feel-good account of the 1968 Ford Dagenham women’s strike for equal pay. Sally Hawkins (Happy Go Lucky) plays the feisty Rita O’Grady, the unwitting figurehead of the striking women.

Burma VJ

Burma VJ: Reporter i et lukket land (Mar 2) – this award-winning documentary is a remarkable compilation of footage secretly shot during the 2007 mass protest by monks in Rangoon, Burma. Suitable for TY Citizenship. We are delighted to welcome Keith Donald, Chairperson of Burma Action Ireland, who will introduce this screening.
The Pipe (Mar 24) - an insight into the ongoing opposition to the Shell pipeline in the small fishing village of Rossport.  Risteard O’Domhnaill’s documentary brings issues of corporate responsibility and community action into sharp focus.
Atonement (Feb 14) – Leaving Cert Comparative Text. Saoirse Ronan gives an Oscar-nominated performance in this acclaimed adaptation of Ian McEwan’s novel. A misinterpreted encounter has lasting repercussions for all involved.

I'm Not Scared

I’m Not Scared (Mar 9)Michele’s playful summer days are interrupted by the discovery of a young boy chained and imprisoned in a hole. This loss-of-innocence story set against the rural Italian landscape is an excellent new addition to the Leaving Cert. Comparative Study for 2012.
Also showing - Billy Elliot (Mar 30)
Revision Workshops for Leaving Cert. Comparative study (May 5 & 11).
Gearrscannáin (Mar 15) – to mark Seachtain na Gaeilge we will be showing a selection of Gearrscannáin, including Cáca Milis for Leaving Cert 2012. Carmel NicEoin (SLSS) will guide students through some of the titles.

Panique au village
Panique au village  (Mar 29) – this surreal and wacky animation based on the Belgian cult TV series tells the story of three plastic toys, Cowboy, Horse and Indian, who go on a perilous and hilarious adventure.
Emil und die Detektive (Feb 16) –  after young Emil is robbed of all his money by Max, a smart girl called Pony agrees to help him and a thrilling adventure ensues as the kids chase Max across Berlin in this fun and lively adaptation of a classic German children’s story.
El espíratu de la colmena (Mar 31) – this classic Spanish film set after the Spanish Civil War tells the story of a young girl who finds a wounded Republican soldier in a barn.  Beautiful cinematography frames this story which is a classic tale of childhood imaginings and a political allegory.
Ongoing touring films: Persepolis and John Rabe continue their nationwide tours. Please see here for details.
We have two special events which have a special focus on the promotion and development of visual literacy skills.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Scott Pilgrim... & Workshop (Apr 6)Michael Cera plays the titular superhero that must vanquish seven superhuman rogues to win the girl of his dreams in this dazzling comic book adaptation. Screening followed by a one-hour workshop on the visual techniques used to bring the modern mythological superheroes to life on the big screen.
Ramona & Beezus (Apr 12) – the antics of young Ramona Quimby and her family are brought to life in this adaptation of the best-selling books for Beverly Cleary. Screening followed by a one-hour workshop looking at how narratives and characters are transformed from the page to the screen.
Africa United (Apr 5) – football prodigy Fabrice and his football-mad friend and manager Dudu embark on an incredible 3,000 mile trek from Kigali to South Africa so Fabrice can take part in the opening ceremony of the World Cup. Suitable for CSPE.
Our IFI Teen Film Club continues this term – to receive information about February’s screening, email your name to teenscreen [at]
The Dublin & Leinster Heats for Fresh Film Festival 2011 will take place on Mar 22nd here at the IFI. For more info contact Fresh on 061 319 555 or
To book for any of the events above or for further details on IFI Education activities, please email schools [at], phone Baz or Dee on 01 679 5744 or check
Looking forward to seeing you at some of these events this term!
Baz Al-Rawi
IFI Education Officer

Friday, February 4, 2011

Jim Sheridan: In Focus season kicks off

The IFI's Jim Sheridan: In Focus season started last night with a gala screening of My Left Foot. To open the proceedings, Sarah Glennie, Director of the IFI, introduced two very special guests, Director Jim Sheridan and star of the film, Daniel Day Lewis, both of whom gave their own personal introductions to the film. The screening was full of famous faces, many of whom had starred in (or worked on) the film, along with many members of the Sheridan clan.

Jim Sheridan

The film has stood the test of time beautifully. The reaction to the screening was hugely positive and warm, with many memories flooding back of the national pride in the film and the celebrations that followed the Academy Award victories for Daniel and Brenda Fricker. Many also commented on the people involved in the film who have now passed on, including Ray McAnally and Cyril Cusack.

Daniel Day Lewis, Hugh O'Conor, Jim Sheridan and Dr. Ruth Barton

Following the screening Dr. Ruth Barton hosted a Q&A with Jim, Daniel and Hugh O'Conor (who played the role of the young Christy Brown). It was a special night for all involved, and it emerged that it was the first time Daniel and Hugh had met since finishing the film. The panellists spoke about working together, and even revealed how Daniel found himself cycling in the Wicklow mountains with a potential funder in order to raise the necessary finances for the film!

Daniel Day Lewis & Hugh O'Conor

Jim's next visit to the IFI will be to take part in an in-depth interview with his brother Peter Sheridan. There are still tickets avaibable for this special event which will take place on Saturday, February 5th at 16.30. Peter, who attended the gala screening last night, announced that he would be giving Jim "a hard time", so it will defintely be an occasion not to be missed! The interview will be preceeded by a screening of Mobile Homes which was first written for the Project Arts Centre in 1976 and then adapted for the small screen in 1979 when Jim Sheridan himself took the lead role.

Jim Sheridan, Ruth Barton

Next week sees further guests arrive at the IFI for screenings in the season. On Monday, February 7th, Brenda Fricker, along with Luke Gibbons, will provide a special introduction for The Field. On Tuesday, February 8th, our special screeing of In the Name of the Father will pay special tribute to Pete Postlethwaite (who played Gerry Conlon's father, Giuseppe) who recently passed away. Some of Pete's family will be travelling over from the UK for the screeing, and both Jim and Daniel will once again attend to talk about the film and their friend Pete.

For full details on screenings and guests, please click here.

Ross Keane
Head of Marketing & Communications

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

February at the IFI

Welcome to the IFI’s February programme and an exciting month of wonderful films and distinguished guests!

My Left Foot

Jim Sheridan’s extraordinary career, spanning 30 years, ranges from the underground theatre scene in 1970s’ Dublin, to Hollywood and several Academy Award nominations. Films such as My Left Foot, In the Name of the Father and The Field have shaped Irish cinema and brought Irish culture to a global stage. We are delighted to be celebrating the achievements of this extraordinary director, writer and producer with a special season of his work during the month of February. Jim will be joining us at a number of the screenings, accompanied by an all-star cast of family and collaborators, including Daniel Day-Lewis, Brenda Fricker, and Kirsten and Peter Sheridan. A highlight of the season will be Jim’s interview by his brother Peter, which promises to be a frank and revealing discussion between two people who have each played a pivotal role in defining Ireland’s contemporary cultural identity.

In the Name of the Father

February is the month of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival which takes place citywide from the 17th to 27th February with a packed programme of screenings and special events connecting films from all over the world. We are delighted to be collaborating with JDIFF to bring British artist Gillian Wearing to Dublin for a special screening of her first feature film, Self Made, followed by a public interview. Gillian is one of the leading British artists of her generation and at the centre of the so-called YBA movement, winning the Turner Prize in 1997. Following a number of artists now turning to cinema (Sam Taylor-Wood, Steve McQueen), Self Made sees Wearing develop her delicate exploration of ordinary people’s inner-most thoughts, in this instance using film as a framework for her subjects to explore their fantasy selves.

We are delighted to contribute to the first Glens Bualadh Bos event which takes place in Manorhamilton, Co. Leitrim on February 19th and 20th. The event, initiated by arist-in- residence Donal O’Kelly, will this year honour actor Tom Hickey, star of stage and screen since the 1960s. The film programme will be supported by IFI National.

Brighton Rock

We continue our Greene on the Screen programme to mark the release of Brighton Rock, and Adrian Wootton will be joining us for a special talk on Greene’s work and his relationship to cinema. All this and some great new releases from around the world with True Grit, Never Let Me Go and Howl being just some of the films opening this month.

It is going to be a busy month: clear your diaries and enjoy some extraordinary and inspiring cinema!

Sarah Glennie