Friday, October 28, 2011

DVD: GAA Football Gold

Yes it's that time of the year again and the IFI Irish Film Archive is ready to press go on its latest GAA DVD release: GAA Football Gold

Following the incredible success of last year's release of hurling highlights from the '40s and '50s (it was one of the biggest selling sport DVDs last year), we have put together a fantastic package for Gaelic football fans, which covers the period 1947-1959. The 1947 match was the first one filmed for cinema audiences and was played between Cavan and Kerry in the New York Polo Grounds, home of the NY Giants baseball team. As it has rarely been seen,  we were delighted to have been  given permission to include it on this DVD and share it with current Gaelic games fans.

1947: Kerry vs. Cavan

The All Ireland Football Finals were routinely filmed by the National Film Institute (before it was renamed the Irish Film Institute) from 1948 onwards and generally lasted 10-20 minutes. In addition to highlights of the senior and minor games, the films showed the build-up to the match and the players in training, and generally had a tongue-in-cheek newsreel quality. Over the last few months, the IFI Irish Film Archive staff has been painstakingly assessing the sound and picture elements of GAA film material held in our vaults, selecting the best quality elements and transferring them to a digital format ready for publishing on DVD. As with our other DVD releases, considerable time and effort has also been spent producing an accompanying booklet full of interesting images of the matches and crowds, with illuminating liner notes provided by Dr. Seán Crosson.

GAA fans will be fascinated by the footage of legendary football stars of the '40s and '50s in action, but there is much in this collection to interest the general public: there is tremendous footage of Dublin supporters, some in drag, making their way to Croke Park by pony and trap in 1958, and spectators on the roofs of the stands & children sitting behind the goal posts, in the days before health and safety spoiled the fun. Other note worthy footage is the cameramen getting ready to film in 1957, groundsman Jimmy Curran preparing the pitch in 1947 and Micheal O'Heir gives a rousing commentary throughout. Dublin fans will relish their county's win in 1958, which is reminiscent of their recent glorious victory, but the geographical spread is wide with Meath, Cork, Louth, Derry, Cavan, Mayo, Armagh and Galway all featured.

The DVD will hit the shops from November 9th and will be available of the IFI website and from IFI Film Shop, keep checking our website for further details.

Kasandra O'Connell
Head of IFI Irish film Archive

For more information on previous DVDs released by the IFI Irish Film Archive, including GAA 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:

Follow @IFI_FilmShop on Twitter!


The Glamour of Awards

The IFI reigned victorious last night as we picked up the gong for Dublin Cinema of the Year at the Dublin Living Awards. 

Ross Keane and Annmarie Gray picking up the Award

We were delighted be nominated for two awards at the Dublin Living Awards last night: Dublin Cinema of the Year and Dublin Café of the Year. So Annmarie Gray and I trekked up to the Mansion House, decked out in our finest garb, ready for a night of anticipation and excitement!

It was certainly a glamourous affair as Dublin's nominated organisations dressed up to the nines. Presidential hopeful David Norris got a standinng ovation as he arrived in, nominated (and then the winner) for Dubliner of the Year.

We unfortunately lost out to Insomnia for Dublin Café of the Year, so we were then pinning all our hopes on our second nomination. We were delighted when our names were called out as winners of the Dublin Cinema of the Year Award, and the rapturous response we got from the audience indicated that the IFI was a very popular choice. Annmarie and I made our way to the stage for the official photo, but we were spared from doing our finest Gwenyth Paltrow Oscar speech impression, as the organisers decided on a no-speech policy to keep the whole night running as smoothly as possible, thereby saving the audience from having to endure any gushing acceptance speeches. We'll just have to save that speech for the Oscars some day...

So, given that we didn't get to say it last night, many thanks to everyone who voted for us across our two nominated categories. It really does mean a lot to us and we were thrilled to be crowned Dublin Cinema of the Year. We pride ourselves at the IFI on delivering a truly unique programme of activities, giving audiences the opportunity to see films here that they simply would not otherwise see. So this award is a ringing endorsement from Dublin's cinemagoers of the work that we do.

Thanks again and here's to retaining the crown next year!

Ross Keane
Public Affairs & Marketing Director  

Monday, October 24, 2011

IFI Horrorthon 2011… The Return

Let’s elaborate further upon the highlights of this year’s IFI Horrorthon programme, for the week that’s in it: IFI Horrorthon 2011 kicks off this Thursday, running through the weekend to our very favourite day of the year… Who doesn’t love Halloween?  

I’d like to begin with a simple, searching query: what’s your favourite scary movie? It’s the mantra proffered by the killer in Wes Craven’s original Scream, and a highly subjective poser indeed: the finest shock cinema, after all, taps directly into our deepest, darkest places, enabling us to tackle the fundamental fears that inform who and what we are.

It’s always been the case that horror cinema can act as a brutally effective mirror to the world in a way that any number of good-meaning but ineffectual prestige movies can’t. Any way you look at it, films like Hostel, Land Of The Dead, A Serbian Film and Kevin Smith’s underrated Red State say far more about the political brutalities of the last decade than multi-million dollar mediocrities like Rendition and Green Zone. At the alternate end of the spectrum, a decent ghost story always plays well; witness the spectacular success of Paranormal Activity 3, which just scored the largest US opening for a horror movie in box-office history, or Insidious, which is already the most profitable release of 2011. 

Blow Out

What the IFI Horrorthon programme always attempts to do is juxtapose the finest new fright cinema with classics from a bygone age, movies that say something about their era – while still thrilling us years later. This year we’re dusting off Brian De Palma’s Blow Out, a masterful conspiracy thriller from the mad genius of the movie brat generation and one of the final farewells from the last true golden age of American cinema; it plays beautifully alongside our double-bill of ‘80s vigilante flicks, The Exterminator and Maniac Cop, reactionary exploitation flicks gleefully giving the (severed) finger to the Reagan era.

The Exterminator

Elsewhere at this year’s IFI Horrorthon, you’ll find Clint Eastwood’s seminal Play Misty ForMe, a proto-genic psycho-stalker flick that established the template for ongoing generations of copycats, most notably Fatal Attraction, and a 25th anniversary screening of James Cameron’s masterpiece Aliens, a joyous relic of a pre-CGI era… Fact: the moment aliens started being pixellated, they stopped being scary. Then there are the classics that we dust off simply because we loved them as kids, and want to turn a whole new generation onto them, while geeking out at them on the big screen: we couldn’t be more delighted to present Mike Hodges’ 1980 ‘re-imagining’ of Flash Gordon (with that Queen soundtrack…) and Jim Henson’s stunning 1982 fantasy epic The Dark Crystal, movies that positively scream to be seen on the big screen.

The Dark Crystal

Thusly, we look forward by looking back. The ongoing evolution of the horror movie is a fascinating and unpredictable one: it’s a genre that (somewhat appropriately) constantly cannibalises itself in search of the Next Big Thing. Just when you think you’ve seen absolutely everything, you catch that unheralded gem that makes it fresh – and frightening – all over again. So make a point to catch some of this year’s fresh IFI Horrorthon discoveries – you can choose from Kidnapped, Snowtown, Rage, Rabies, The Hunt, A Horrible Way To Die, The TheatreBizarre and so many more. You’ll fall in love with being terrified all over again.

Derek O'Connor
Associate Programmer
IFI Horrorthon

For more information on films, bookings and special guests, visit the IFI Horrorthon website

Join the conversation on Twitter - use #IFIHorrorthon and follow @IFI_Dub & @IFI_Horrorthon

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Welcome to IFI Horrorthon 2011

IFI Horrorthon is a labour of love, a Festival curated by horror movie fans for horror movie fans, and a truly unique event on the IFI calendar. 

Every year, IFI Horrorthon brings you the best shock cinema from across the globe, and trust us - this year’s programme does not disappoint. Let’s be honest, here: Hollywood simply isn’t delivering the goods right now when it comes to cool horror product, having filmed every vaguely remake-able title imaginable and flogged existing franchises to a protracted and unpleasant death… Not that there aren’t talented young U.S. filmmakers out there: we’re delighted, for example, to be screening micro-budget indie A Horrible Way To Die from director Adam Wingard, whose next movie, You’re Next, is already being touted as the Next Big Sensation. Wingard takes the Mumblecore approach to the horror film, suggesting a whole new way forward for the genre – and we’re loving it. 

Elsewhere, you’ll find splendid new work from the U.K, (haunted house tale The Awakening, Wicker Man companion piece The Wicker Tree, online cautionary tale Panic Button and the lovable Zombie Undead), France (urban survival piece The Hunt), Spain (intense home invasion saga Kidnapped), Japan (J-Horror teen flick Tomie Unlimited), Germany (underground nightmare Urban Explorer), Australia (slow-burning true-life serial killer saga Snowtown) and The Netherlands (undead Santa slay-fest Saint) – an eclectic smorgasbord of demented delights, and bloody good fun at that.

There’s much, much, much more: try a pair of demented anthology flicks, Canadian entry The Theatre Bizarre (directors include FX maestro Tom Savini and the welcome return of Hardware helmer Richard Stanley) and the unmissable Chillerama, a gonzo love letter to horror hounds from our old IFI Horrorthon buddy Tim Sullivan, who will be present to introduce the screening. Sullivan also produced a short film adaptation of Stephen King’s classic short story One For The Road, starring Phantasm hero Reggie Bannister and directed by talented Dubliner Paul Ward – we’re delighted to present the Irish premiere. Also doing the home team proud is the prolific Jason Figgis, who presents his latest feature-length documentary, a haunting tale entitled Cathnafola. And that’s before we get to the elaborate programme of scream classics screening at IFI Horrorthon 2011 – we’ll tell you about that next time… Until then, check out our programme online – and be very, very afraid of the dark.

Derek O'Connor
Associate Programmer
IFI Horrorthon

Join the conversation on Twitter - use #IFIHorrorthon and follow @IFI_Dub@IFI_Horrorthon!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The IFI in New York

It has been a busy year for the IFI as we have 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.

Guests of the Nation at NCH

We started in March with Hidden Ireland, a 13-week long programme of documentary films made in and about Ireland which was presented at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at the Lincoln Center. The programme opened with The Seasons, the extraordinary film from the IFI Irish Film Archive which documents daily life in a rural Mayo village in the 1930s. Harpist Cormac de Barra and musicians from Kila presented live musical accompaniment and the film was met with a very emotional reaction from the audience, which included Milo O’Shea and Angela Lansbury.

Hidden Ireland

We returned to New York in May for Revisiting the Quiet Man: Ireland on Film at MoMA. This two week programme, comprising 14 films, was curated by Gabriel Byrne.  Gabriel took John Ford’s iconic portrayal of rural Ireland in The Quiet Man as the starting point for an exploration of representations of Irish identity on film, with titles ranging from Darby O’Gill... to Hunger. The programme was animated by some great discussions with special guests who joined us over the two weeks. Starting with Gabriel himself who discussed his love of The Quiet Man with Dr. Luke Gibbons on the opening night; Milo O’Shea made a surprise appearance to introduce his first film This Other Eden, and Jim Sheridan, Enda Walsh and Lance Daly all gave different generational perspectives on the extent to which Irish identity informs their work. Over 4,000 people attended the films over the two weeks and we were bowled-over by the level of interest shown by the MoMA audience in finding out more about Irish culture.

Revisiting the Quiet Man: Ireland on Film

Our final leg of our New York programme was a gala presentation and US premiere of Denis Johnston’s 1935 film Guests of the Nation at the Alice Tully Hall in the Lincoln Center on September 22nd. The IFI Irish Film Archive has restored this extraordinary film and given it new life with a newly commissioned score by Niall Byrne. Niall’s lyrical and emotive music was premiered at the National Concert Hall on September 11th with a live orchestral performance by RTE Concert Orchestra, and received a rapturous response from the 900-strong Dublin audience. The response in New York was no less ecstatic from an audience clearly moved by Denis Johnston’s stark but deeply emotional portrayal of Frank O’Connor’s short story, which is so enhanced by Niall’s music.

Guests of the Nation, NCH Dublin

The programme began with two short films by one of Ireland’s most exciting young filmmakers – Andrew Legge. Andrew uses silent film with a contemporary perspective, and The Unusual Inventions of Henry Cavendish and The Lactating Automaton provided a great sense of continuum from one of Ireland’s earliest example of indigenous filmmaking (Guests of the Nation), showing New York audiences the depth of talent there now is amongst Irish filmmakers.

The Lactating Automaton

Gabriel Byrne introduced Guests of the Nation, comparing the work of the IFI Irish Film Archive to those of archaeologists – uncovering and preserving Ireland’s cultural heritage and critically ensuring that treasure such as Guests of the Nation are not lost for future generations. This work is central to the IFI and we believe passionately that the IFI Irish Film Archive is one of Ireland’s most important cultural resources. Our year in the U.S. has demonstrated to us the power of the films we hold in the IFI Irish Film Archive to tell Ireland’s story to a global audiences, challenge perceptions of what it means to be Irish, and offer unique insights into our culture. Film is a powerful and accessible tool by which to communicate with both ourselves and a wider international audience and the preservation of our film culture in the IFI Irish Film Archive allows us to do this.

Gabriel Byrne introducing Guests of the Nation, NYC

Imagine Ireland has given the IFI, and many, many other Irish artists and organisations a fantastic opportunity to deliver programmes of real ambition in the States this year. Irish arts has had a very tangible presence across the States, raising awareness and developing invaluable contacts. Many good things will come out of this – the IFI is already developing a number of further collaborations building on the partnerships we made this year and we are extremely grateful to Culture Ireland for their support of a series of very exciting programmes for the IFI.

Sarah Glennie

For more information on Guests of the Nation with a new score by Niall Byrne, click [here]. 

Visit our Flickr account for more images from the film premiere at the National Concert Hall, Dublin [here] and at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center in New York City [here]. 

Visit Imagine Ireland website for more information on other events featuring Irish arts in America. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

IFI Education Programme for Autumn 2011 launch

‘..just pay attention. You might learn something’.
Classroom mantra? Yes perhaps, but also a line from Inez, girlfriend of Gil, in the very amusing, Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen’s latest film which showed for teachers here at IFI on September 26th, to launch our Education Programme for Autumn 2011. 

IFI Education Programme - Autumn 2011

In the film Owen Wilson plays a terrific Woody Allen, totally put upon by his brittle and complaining fiancée for whom his novel-writing is becoming less appealing by the day. Instead of showing eagerness to finely wine, dine and shop in Paris, Gil gets more pleasure out of walking the city’s streets late at night. Till one night through an amazing bit of time travel, he ends up in the company of some rather famous 1920s names. There’s Hemmingway, and he’s hanging out with the Fitzgeralds and Gertrude Stein. Alice B Toklas opens the door. Bunuel comes by. Someone offers a greeting to Trotsky. And so it goes on. One after another of Gil’s heroes crosses his midnight path, led by the luminous Adriana (Marion Cotillard) with whom Gil starts to fall in love. Of course in Allanesque ways it gets complicated, and that’s just part of its charm.

Midnight in Paris

Perfect Tuesday evening fare for our group of teachers, the screening was accompanied by a short presentation by Thomas McGraw Lewis, on The Industry Trust’s You-Make-the-Movies Campaign, dedicated to raising awareness of the implications of piracy on the film industry. The Trust are targeting young people through our Education Programme and a nationwide preview screening programme of The Help – based on the best-selling book will take place on October 25th.

IFI Education Programme Launch

Learning something about film is what we hope students can do through our programme. And we’ve a whole range of titles and events to facilitate this. A major tour of French-language title, Panique au Village, with accompanying studyguide by our former colleague, Baz Al-Rawi, will promote language learning. For students of German, there’s Neukölln Unlimited, the insightful and tense documentary about Lebanese streetdancers seeking asylum after long-term living in Berlin. This is presented with the support of Goethe Institute.   

TY students can follow the teen adventures of 15-year-old Oliver in the quirky Submarine or get their F1 thrills with Senna, the gifted Brazilian racing-driver. Other challenging slices of life come from South Africa’s Life above All about 12-year-old Chanda or Cold War spy story L’Affaire Farewell

Junior Cycle students needn’t feel left out - they can get out their dancing shoes for Jig, with Riverdance's Breandán de Gallaí to introduce the film. 

There’s Irish interest also in our primary programme with a free preview of Dolphin Tale, the heroic story of the injured dolphin whose tail is constructed by an Irish prosthetics doctor and The Runway, about Paco and his Spanish speaking pilot friend who wants to get back home. Director Ian Power will be at this screening to talk to the young audience.

IFI Education Programme Launch

There’s lots more in the programme to support different aspects of curricula as well as information on our Teen Club which aims to give young people an opportunity to see a range of film they wouldn’t usually have access to, outside of schooltime. The whole programme is dedicated to giving teachers and their students a range of opportunities to engage with film in different ways here at IFI or at partner venues around the country. Dee Quinlan and I in  IFI Education would like to know what you think of it. 

But let’s leave the last word to Woody Allen. For the times when classroom events might take a surreal turn this term, it might help to recall this scene from the film:

Luis Buñuel: A man in love with a woman from a different era. I see a photograph! 
Man Ray: I see a film! 
Gil: I see insurmountable problem! 
Salvador Dalí: I see rhinoceros! 

Alicia McGivern
Head of IFI Education

Click [here] (PDF - 1.7mb) to download the programme. 

For more information on IFI Education events, visit or contact Dee Quinlan (e:, t: 01 679 5744).

See more photos from the IFI Education launch on Flickr [here].

Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris runs at the IFI until October 27th. For information and bookings, click [here].

Friday, October 7, 2011

Iranian Film Season Oct 8th – 26th

Before revolution comes revelation. After comes realisation. In trying to understand the protests and demonstrations that shook Iran in 2009 we are faced with a number of questions. Social media may have provided us with documents of the immediacy of protest but little in the way of analysis.

This season of films provides background, context and meaning to the events of 2009. What links the films on show is their commitment to social justice, dignity, freedom, respect and equality. They are calls for reform rather than revolution, at the centre of which lies the complicated position of women in Iranian society.
Jafar Panahi’s The Circle opens the season and is a searing indictment of a society in freefall. Yet the overwhelming tone of despair and despondency evident throughout is constantly undercut by stoicism and quiet defiance. This is beautifully realised in a scene near the end of the film when a prostitute is being taken to a police station. Her resigned, defiant, sad and vacant eyes, a symbol of a fallen world in which all are implicated.

The Circle

This theme is continued in Offside which exposes the absurdities of a system that seems intent on trying to control all aspects of life. It provides a perfect metaphor for the cat-and-mouse game, the split between the private and public persona, and the muddling through and ignoring of rules that constitutes daily life in the Islamic Republic. Both films whilst lauded on the international scene (Circle won The Golden Lion at Venice 2000 and Offside won a Silver Bear in Berlin 2006) were banned in Iran.

Equally as controversial, similarly lauded abroad, yet screened in Iran, (becoming box office hits in the process), are two films by Rassul Sadr Ameli, The GirlIn The Sneakers and I Am Taraneh, IAm 15 Years Old. He (an open supporter of the Green Movement who refused to have his films shown at the Fajr Film Festival in protest at the government crackdown) is no less a controversial figure than Panahi, yet his work has suffered less at the hand of the censor.

I Am Taraneh, I Am Fifteen Years Old

Part of the reason for this may lie in the fact that his films operate according to what might be deemed to be ‘more acceptable’ forms of social criticism. I Am Taraneh, I Am 15 in its tackling of a contentious issue such as teenage pregnancy does so in such a way that whilst it calls for the rights and freedom of the individual to be respected it could also be read to endorse official state values in its promotion of Islamic morals and motherhood.

Our Times

If the emergence of women in front of the cameras is startling then their appearance behind it as vanguards of a new and vibrant form of filmmaking is even more so. Rakhshan Bani-Etemad’s work reflects the contradictions of the Islamic Republic and its cinema. She combines deep psychological probing with a documentary infused style to examine pressing social concerns. Using the plight of women as a focal point she constructs a picture of a society where families are betrayed, mothers are abandoned and promises are meaningless. An active supporter of the Green Movement, OurTimes is a return to her documentary roots in response to the restrictions placed on filmmakers in their attempts to cover the tumultuous events.

This is a season of committed filmmaking that places cinema as a voice of critical conscience. It is essential viewing for anyone with an interest in Iran or cutting edge cinema.

Dr Eric Egan

Dr Eric Egan is the author of The Films of Makhmalbaf: Cinema, Politics, and Culture in Iran. He has written extensively on Iranian cinema as well as on Third Cinema, Egyptian cinema, Pakistani cinema and early silent cinema. He has recently contributed to the book Film in the Middle East and North Africa Creative Dissidence. He has taught film studies at both undergraduate and post graduate level in England and Ireland.

IFI's Iranian Film Season runs between October 8th - 26th. Full details of the films in the season can be found [here]. 

Attention: owing to the circumstances beyond our control we are unable to screen The Girl in the Sneakers, as programmed on Sunday October 16th at 13.20. This screening will be replaced with A Separation, a Golden Bear winner of the Berlin Film Festival. 
For more information on the film, please click [here].

Monday, October 3, 2011

October at the IFI

Welcome to the IFI's October programme: one of extraordinary global cinema, some very special guests, and a little bit of horror!

Lars Von Trier's Melancholia

This month sees the release of Ali Samadi Ahadi's moving and startling film The Green Wave, documenting the protests that took place following the disputed 2009 Iranian election, and to mark this we have a special season of Iranian cinema. Films from this troubled country have gained increasing international recognition in recent times, as demonstrated earlier this year with Asghar Farhadi’s stunning A Separation. This focus on Iranian cinema is growing both because of the strength of the work produced and the ongoing controversy surrounding the government’s treatment of its country’s filmmakers including Jafar Panahi who was imprisoned for six years and banned from filmmaking for 20 years. The season includes Panahi’s two award-winning films, The Circle and Offside, and Mohammad Rasoulof’s Goodbye, an extraordinarily moving and telling portrayal of the day-to-day realities of life for women in contemporary Iran, and one of my personal favourites from Cannes.


The IFI French Film Festival is coming round again soon, opening on November 16th, and we are giving you a sneak preview this year with a special programme of Prix Jean Vigo winners, starting in October and concluding during the Festival. Celebrating its 60th anniversary, France's most prestigious of film prizes is for young filmmakers, and the list of past winners reads like a who's who of French cinema. We have selected some of the best to get you in the mood for the Festival including Godard's first feature Breathless and Chris Marker's seminal film, La Jetée.

Jean Seberg and Jean-Paul Belmondo in Breathless

We have some great guests visiting and special events happening at the IFI this month. We are delighted that Colm Meaney will be joining us on October 6th with director Darragh Byrne for the opening of their new Irish film Parked, and that Paddy Considine (one of our actor/directors this month, coinciding with our Stars Behind the Camera season) will be here for a preview of his startling directorial debut, Tyrannosaur, on October 3rd. Tickets for both events will go quickly so book early!

Colm Meaney in Parked

Amongst all of this, it’s Hallowe’en and that can only mean one thing: IFI Horrorthon! As ever, it’s back with a spinechilling and blood-curdling programme of the best of shock cinema, old and new. Prepare to be afraid!

Sarah Glennie