Wednesday, June 15, 2011

IFI Open Day 2011

We survived the IFI Open Day 2011! With 15 free films on offer and queues running up Dame Street, this year's Open Day was another huge success.

Last year we decided to throw open the doors of the IFI with an Open Day of free screenings as our way of saying thanks for sticking with us during the major redevelopment we had undertaken the previous summer. When Cinema 3 was officially opened, we thought that an Open Day would be the perfect way to celebrate. The response to it was immense. Audiences came in their thousands and all tickets were snapped up within 60 minutes. The staff also really enjoyed the day, giving office personnel a rare chance to meet the audience and be on the front line. So when we debriefed after the event last year, everyone was in agreement that we'd have to bring it back again in 2011.

Shifting the month from February to June, and offering even more films than last year, the Open Day's lead programmer Kevin Coyne pulled together a varied selection of films that really showed the breadth of the ongoing programming at the IFI, incorporating strands such as IFI Family, IFI Stranger than Fiction and IFI Irish Film Archive. Audiences clearly responded to it as we had people queuing outside from a little after 7am to ensure that they would get their chosen tickets. First in line was avid cinemagoer John Egan, who was presented with an IFI Gift Voucher for this dedication!

Sarah Glennie with first-in-line John Egan

Such was the demand for tickets that the queue stretched from the door to Cinema 1, out of the IFI, up Eustace Street and down Dame Street, even passing the Olympia Theatre! Once 11am struck, the tickets began to be given away with Cave of Forgotten Dreams being the first film to 'sell out'. 

Queue up Eustace Street

The day went by in a whirlwind with the foyer constantly busy with comings and goings as people attended the packed-out screenings. We also operated last-minute queues for people who weren't lucky (early!) enough to get the tickets they wanted. If there were any unclaimed seats a few minutes before  a screening started, we made sure to fill them with our patient hopefuls! People were also taking advantage of the special offer on IFI Membership with reduced rates for IFI Open Day.

Queues on Dame Street

IFI Open Day offered audiences the opportunity to be the first to view many films that have not yet been released. We had special previews of Jack Goes Boating, the directorial debut of Philip Seymour Hoffman; Life, Above All, the South African film about a girl struggling to keep her family together; Cell 211, the gritty prison drama and winner of eight Goya Awards; the documentary Armadillo about Danish soldiers in Afghanistan; and the Irish film Sensation which was introduced by its stars Domhnall Gleeson and Kelly Campbell.

Aislinn Ni Uallachain and Mark Byrne get their free tickets

We also had some great classics on offer. IFI Education's Dee Quinlan introduced the IFI Family film Labyrinth featuring David Bowie's Goblin King; Cinemas Manager Peter Walsh introduced two of his favourites - cult film The Honeymoon Killers and Godard's Pierrot le fou; comedian John Colleary, a big Marx Brothers' fan, spoke about A Night at the Opera; Head of Education Alicia McGivern told audiences why she considered Donnie Darko to be the best film on offer at the Open Day; Director of the Kilruddery Film Festival, Daniel Fitzpatrick, discussed F.W. Murnau's silent classic Sunrise; while IFI Curator and author Lee Dunne introduced the IFI Irish Film Archive's slot, the controversial-at-the-time and rarely seen  I Can't . . . I Can't.

The day closed out with two popular films. Cave of Forgotten Dreams, a recent hit at the IFI, was brought back for one more outing and introduced by Professor of Archaeology at UCD Muiris O Suilleabhain who is an expert on prehistoric art.


Our other popular film was very divisive amongst IFI staff! The Audience Choice screening... In the weeks leading up to the Open Day, IFI staff all selected their favourite three films of the past twelve months. This list was then compiled into a shortlist for the public to vote for their favourite in an online poll. Different staff members championed their favourite films in short online entries to try to garner support for their own choices, which resulted in a closely fought battle! We're all back on speaking terms now, but Head of IFI Irish Film Archive Kasandra O'Connell emerged victorious (after an exhaustive Twitter campaign!) with her choice Submarine. She happily gloated about her victory in her introduction to the film on Saturday night in Cinema 1!

All in all the day was a great success. Huge numbers poured through our doors and we were delighted to be able to throw open the IFI for free to the public once again.

All the staff put in trojan work to make the day run as smoothly as possible, from the programmers to the café bar staff dealing with the hungry (and thirsty!) masses, to the box office staff who had some considerable crowd management to oversee! And not forgetting the huge numbers of office staff who offered up their sacred Saturdays to come in and help out.

We hope you all enjoyed it as much as we did!

Ross Keane
Public Affairs & Marketing Director

1 comment:

  1. I was one of those people who queued for tickets. I saw Sunrise which was stunning on the big screen. I also saw I Can't...I Can't which was very interesting, I have put up a review of this at my Irish cinema blog. Follow or see what you think