Saturday, December 15, 2012

Christmas Shopping ideas from the IFI Film Shop

Christmas is in sight and you’ve no shopping done? Time is short but the pressure is on to find that special gift and despite the global realm of internet shopping you fear you’ll end up grabbing random gifts in your local shopping centre on Christmas Eve? You may not have considered it but the IFI Film Shop could be the antidote to your Christmas gift anxiety. In addition to carrying a broad range of DVDs and books relating to film which make perfect stocking fillers, it also has some quirky gems and beautiful, limited edition gifts that could be just the ticket for that Cinephile in your life. 

Here are three I hope I will find under my tree this year.

One of my favourite items in the IFI Filmshop is a beautifully framed print of James Mason as rebel leader Johnny McQueen, which is a production still from the classic Irish film Odd Man Out (€100, with proceeds going to the IFI Irish Film Archive preservation fund). This image, which is one of the thousands preserved by the IFI Irish Film Archive as part of its stills and document collection (and reproduced with kind permission of ITV) is from the noir thriller directed by Carol Reed, who later made the Third Man with Orson Welles.

Roman Polanski proclaimed Odd Man Out the greatest film ever made, praising its intriguing mix of styles, Reed married the classic film noir aesthetic with surrealist sequences giving the film a dreamlike, claustrophobic quality; that signature film noir visual style; dramatic lighting creating heavy shadows and an unusual unbalanced composition are used to great effect in this image and make it an arresting and worthy addition to any cinema aficionado’s abode. The IFI Irish Film Archive’s Document Collection includes film stills, posters and production materials, relating to Irish films and many of the images from this collection can be ordered as framed pictures (where copyright allows) making  striking and unusual gifts for a discerning film fan.

Another beautiful gift for those interested in film history is the collector’s edition of the Shepperton Studios book (€40) which was released by Southbank publishing to celebrate the Shepperton’s 75th anniversary this world famous studio. 

This special limited edition of the book comes in a presentation box, is numbered and is one of only 750 copies published. With exclusive contributions from directors, actors and producers and including over 300 stunning images, this book is the first comprehensive, illustrated account of the history and influence of  the legendary British studio where some of the most successful films ever produced were made , including such classics as The Third Man, The Omen, Alien, Gladiator and 2001 A Space Odyssey. This special collectors’ edition includes extras such as a Facsimile of an original Flicker Book (the success of which helped Norman Loudon create Shepperton Studios) A reprinted copy of the film campaign brochure for 70s classic The Wicker Man, and an exclusive DVD featuring trailers from 12 major Shepperton Films , making it all the more covetable and worth repeated investigation.

My final pick is lavish a book from the Taschen Directors’ Archive series The Ingmar Bergman Archives; (€100) for over 30 years Taschen have been producing imaginative and beautifully presented books about art, but even by their impeccable standards this work is remarkable.

Ingmar Bergman who has been considered one of the leading figures in international cinema since The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries were released in 1957, wrote, produced and directed 50 films in a career that spanned 60 years, addressing the fundamental questions of our existence such as mortality, faith, loneliness and fear. For this project Bergman collaborated with the authors up until his death in 2007, gave full access to his archives and granted permission for his writings and interviews to be reprinted. Picture researcher Bengt Wanselius (Bergman's photographer for 20 years) discovered previously unseen images from Bergman's films and from the personal archives of many photographers. The book features an introduction by Bergman's friend, and collaborator Erland Josephson, a full chronology, filmography, and bibliography, a DVD full of rare and previously unseen material and an original  film strip from the 1982 film Fanny and Alexander (1982) that has been played on Bergman's own film projector.

This is the most detailed examination of  Bergman’s life and work ever published and one that The Guardian’s film critic Philip French described as "a sumptuous volume of unsurpassable excellence, the greatest-ever study of a movie director".

Kasandra O'Connell
Head of IFI Irish Film Archive

IFI Film Shop - opening hours: Mon – Tues 11am – 7pm, Wed – Sat 12pm – 9pm, Sun 1pm – 7pm (extended opening hours in December!). Also open Christmas Eve!

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The season of giving…

As much as I find it hard to believe that it’s December once again and we’re about to embark on another festive season, I’m going to have to face facts and accept that I’m another year older and have a lot of Christmas shopping to get through! The IFI Film Shop is always a good place to start. There are plenty of gift ideas I could talk about (IFI Membership and IFI Gift Cards are no-brainers!) but I’m going to pick out three things that I’ll be snapping up in the coming days.

First up is a must-have for any cineaste. I simply love the films of Michael Haneke. Showing currently at the IFI is his latest Palme d’Or winning Amour which has to be one of the best films of 2012. It has really given me the appetite to rediscover some of his earlier films. The Films of Michael Haneke box set (€60) is a ten disc collection and includes his entire filmmaking career (with the obvious exception of Amour). There are so many classics in there. I can still recall the chilling masterpiece and the sheer discomfort watching The White Ribbon, or the unsettling atmosphere in the thriller Hidden (Caché) starring our recent Festival guest Juliette Binoche, and only recently I saw for the very first time the uncompromising Funny Games which screened during our IFI20 Landmark Films Season. So this box set is a must have for any Haneke fan and it even includes the fascinating documentary 24 Realities per Second.

Next up is a DVD from one of my favourite Irish filmmakers, Pat Collins. Many of you may have seen his recent film Silence which is an utterly spellbinding piece of filmmaking. His 2011 film, Tim Robinson: Connemara (€14.99), is a sixty minute film based on three Connemara books and is an exploration of landscape, history and mythology. It’s a beautiful film and perfect for any lovers of the West.

As we’re about to embark on a full and comprehensive retrospective of all of Hitchcock’s 52 films (in the biggest season the IFI has ever undertaken) and in advance of the release of the new biopic Hitchcock, it’s a great time to read Paul Duncan's Alfred Hitchcock. The Complete Films (Taschen) or Looking for Alfred by Johan Grimonprez. Both make a fascinating read and a marvellous way to truly get to know the man behind some of the famous thrillers ever made.

Happy shopping!

Ross Keane


Monday, December 3, 2012

Recollections from 1978 to 1984

On the occasion of the launch of Film Focus: New Directions in Film and Media Literacy for Young People, IFI Education's two-year action research project, Ciarán Benson writes about film education as one of the core activities of the IFI over its last 20 years. 

In addition to its recently commemorated 20th birthday, the IFI also has a 30th anniversary looming in 2013.  The IFI was officially incorporated as the Irish Film Institute in 1983. The years leading up to that have their own little history, one reflective of the changes at work in Irish society from the 1970s. The Arts Council, under the leadership of Colm O’Briain, was a particularly energetic and exciting body at that time.  It was a time when older categories of ‘fine’ art were being jostled by newer ones seeking recognition. Film was one of these upstarts. It was also a time when those seeking societal change were strongly committed to the idea that profound change could be instigated by energetic and thoughtful transformations of the education system. 

During 1978 I worked on a project for the Arts Council to reposition the arts in Irish education. The young David Collins (Now Managing Director & Producer of Samson Films), then Literature and Film Officer with the Council, and I taught a course in film ‘theory’ (having taught ourselves in the preceding weeks!) at an annual meeting of the Irish Film Society in the La Touche Hotel in Greystones in the summer of 1978. Following this, it was Davy’s idea that we should seek to become board members of the then National Film Institute at 65 Harcourt Street and use it as a vehicle to advance film and film education. Founded by Archbishop McQuaid in 1943, and incorporated in 1945 with a view to keeping a close eye on the moral dimensions of film and to promote its educational and training potential it had, I think it is fair to say, largely run out of steam by the late 1970s. But it owned its building and the board controlled that ownership. In a word, it had potential.

IFI Family Film Festival 2011

Following our – uncontested – election to the board in late 1978 (or early 1979?), Davy and I set about co-opting new members and re-imagining the Institute. We quickly co-opted Kevin Rockett (now Professor in Film Studies, TCD), Donal Fitzsimons (currently in the School of Education, UCD) was already there. Liam O’Dwyer (now CEO of the Irish Youth Foundation), Luke Gibbons (currently Professor of Irish Literary and Cultural Studies, NUIM), Niamh O’Sullivan (later Professor of Visual Culture, NCAD), and a young encyclopaedist of film from Tralee, the late Michael Dwyer (distinguished Irish Times film critic), amongst others, joined us in the years following.

We were all in our twenties/early thirties, lovers of film, and optimistic about the ways in which Irish society might be changed for the better. With a shoestring budget we appointed a director (Malachy O’Higgins) who was quickly succeeded by a second Director David Kavanagh who remained until the IFC/IFI was firmly established in Eustace Street. A particularly important appointment was our first education officer Martin McLoone (currently Professor and Director of The Centre for Media Research, University of Ulster) in January 1980.

It is fair to say that two very different tendencies met on that NFI board representing very different views of Ireland, yet my memories are that the tone of our board meetings was affable and often amusing. From the outset we committed ourselves to advancing film education and, with Martin McLoone on board, we immediately instituted summer courses of the La Touche kind.  

In July 1980 the first Summer School was held at Clongowes Wood College. It was themed Film Studies: The Irish Context and had over 90 students. The following year’s theme, also at Clongowes, was Film Noir. Evening courses for teachers and the general public began early on, and soon publications began to appear like Television and Irish Society (edited by Martin McLoone and John MacMahon, based on the papers from the 1984 Summer School) and Every Picture Tells a Story: Introduction to Visual Literacy (1985). The first Television Summer School, in cooperation with RTE, was held in the ‘green room’ at RTE in July 1983. 

I was Chairman from 1982 to 1984. By 1982 the board was committed to changing from the National to the Irish Film Institute. I remember the meeting at which all emblems of the NFI’s denominational history were removed and the course of the future IFI was clearly charted. It was never easy since money was always short and the times were tough. We received comradely encouragement from the British Film Institute and from the BBC’s educational services. 

In 1983 the IFI took over the running of the IFT (The Irish Film Theatre, formerly The International, on Earlsfort Terrace) and changed it from a rep cinema to a 'first run' art cinema. Despite some notable box-office successes (Heat and Dust, for example) it was not a great success. What it did, however, was to confirm that the IFI needed its own screens and by late 1985 The Quakers Meeting House on Eustace Street was identified as being a potentially ideal new home.

Eventually, under subsequent boards chaired by Kevin Rockett, and with farseeing support from The Arts Council, the move to Eustace Street became possible.  Proceeds of the sale of 65 Harcourt Street were, like a dowry, instrumental in attracting the funds for the IFC.  

In these differently challenging times, little histories like this should remind us that we never know how far the ripples of enthusiasm can reach. 

Ciarán Benson
Emeritus Professor of Psychology, UCD

Read more about IFI Film Focus report. 

Friday, November 30, 2012

December at the IFI

From a full retrospective of films of Alfred Hitchcock, to a host of Irish and international features and the unmissable Christmas classics - that's December at the IFI!

Starting this month, and running well into 2013, the IFI is delighted to present a full retrospective of the 52 surviving films of Alfred Hitchcock. This is a truly unique opportunity for our audiences to immerse  themselves in the films of this giant of cinema. This is the largest season the IFI has ever undertaken and will run until March 2013, presenting the films thematically instead of chronologically. So whether you’re seeing some of them for the first time or rediscovering a classic you never thought you’d see on the big screen again, this is a season for true cineastes.

The Genius of Hitchcock: Part One from Dec 9th

As we get ready to say goodbye to 2012, we have great films to help the year go out with a bang! Some big titles from November continue into December with AmourThe Master and The Hunt all still on offer. The IFI’s commitment to Irish film continues with two features: Ian Fitzgibbon’s Death of a Superhero and Kirsten Sheridan’s Dollhouse. Both films demonstrate some stunning performances from young actors.

Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Donald in Death of a Superhero

There are fantastic classics on offer this month including re-releases of Lawrence of Arabia (celebrating its 50th anniversary), Babette’s Feast, and the Bette Davis and Joan Crawford masterpiece What Ever happened to Baby Jane? 

IFI Classic Lawrence of Arabia

We have great films lined up for Christmas too. Frank Capra’s unforgettable It’s a Wonderful Life is back on the big screen for the festive season, while the IFI Family screening for this month, WhenSanta Fell to Earth, is packed full of Christmas cheer. If you’re feeling ‘anti-Christmas’, be sure to have some fun with Billy Bob Thornton in Bad Santa and Bill Murray in Scrooged.

It's a Wonderful Life

If you’re stuck for Christmas gift ideas then look no further than the IFI Film Shop. With presents ranging from books to DVDs to stocking fillers, our specialist store can provide you with the perfect gift for this holiday season. If you are shopping for the person who has everything, our new IFI Gift Cards are the perfect solution, or if you’re looking for a gift that lasts all year, then look no further than IFIMembership which offers a host of great benefits. 

GAA Gold 2 DVD Box Set
And finally I’d like to thank all of our patrons for their support throughout 2012 and we look forward to seeing you again in 2013. Wishing you all a very merry Christmas and happy new year. 

Ross Keane

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Pat Collins, director of Silence, now available to buy on DVD in the IFI Film Shop, explains the story behind the documentary which follows sound recordist Eoghan Mac Giolla Bhríde on a psycho-geographical journey taken from Berlin to his native Donegal:

I was always fascinated by the people who went around in the 1930s and 1940s – people like Seamus Ennis and Seán Ó hEochaidh – who travelled from house to house and collected stories and songs and folklore. It’s a romantic notion, I suppose. I wanted to make a film about someone travelling around the country meeting people, but I wanted it to be set in a contemporarycontext, so it evolved from being a folklore collector to being a sound recordist.

Though our character Eoghan is trying to get away from man-made noise and away from people, he always seems to meet someone; so he’s still hearing stories. The people that Eoghan meets as he travels through Ireland are mostly real characters playing themselves. People we had read about, or people we had met previously, or people we had heard about.

Eoghan meets a human geographer, a farmer, a barman, a museum owner, a fisherman, a writer. It’s one of the great things about making documentaries – the houses you get invited into, the people you meet out and about in odd places. These encounters give the film a documentary sensibility.

In many ways Silence is about transience… that we need to pay attention because things are going to pass. Even some of the birdsong, the corncrakes and the curlew reflect that. We wanted to film in genuinely remote areas in keeping with the locations where Eoghan would be recording – in locations that were genuinely free from man-made sound; and this meant we had to get away from roads. The Irish landscape is incredibly varied. There is no end to it.

Pat Collins

Silence is available to buy on DVD at the IFI Film Shop now (€14.99). It can also be bought online (please note there will be an additional p&p charge).

Watch the trailer:

Friday, November 2, 2012

November at the IFI

November focuses on all things French as we celebrate the 13th IFI French Film Festival. In October we started the build-up to the Festival with a celebration of one of France’s most prestigious independent production and distribution companies, Les Films du Losange. To celebrate its 50th anniversary, this programme continues into November with Éric Rohmer’s classic Tales of the Four Seasons. Rohmer wanted the stories of the four films in the series “to focus on attractive, intelligent, self-absorbed if not entirely aware young women” and this is a rare chance to get to see all four films, spread over nine days. This ‘Le Losange’ focus will be completed during the Festival with screenings of Nicolas Philibert’s Louvre City, Michael Haneke’s (whose new film Love opens the Festival) Hidden starring Juliette Binoche and Daniel Auteuil, and the first feature from Barbet Schroeder, More.

There are fantastic films and guests on offer in this year’s IFI French Film Festival. We are thrilled to welcome Juliette Binoche whose latest film, Another Woman’s Life, is a comedy-drama by actress and novelist, Sylvie Testud.

Juliette Binoche in Another Woman's Life

We are also delighted that Béatrice Dalle, star of Betty Blue, will attend the aforementioned film that shot her to fame as well as her latest offering, Bye Bye Blondie. We’re pleased to welcome directors Héléna Klotz (with her feature Atomic Age) and Benoit Jacquot (with his story of the final days in the life of Marie Antoinette in Farewell, MyQueen), alongside actors Reda Kateb (starring in Catherine Corsini’s ThreeWorlds) and Alice de Lencquesaing (featuring in the Festival’s Closing Film, Ina Rush). With 34 screenings taking place during the Festival, we couldn’t fit them all into our regular monthly programme, so be sure to pick up a separate copy of the French programme (download in PDF) or check out

Kinopolis 2012: Wojciech Smarzowski's The Dark House

November also sees the return of Kinopolis, the 7th Polish Film Festival, with highlights including a focus on ‘the dark side of the Polish soul’, as represented by the work of director Wojciech Smarzowski whose latest award-winning film, Rose opens the Festival. We’ll also look at the latest from Poland’s continually impressive animation industry with a programme of short films and will welcome guests Marian Dziędziel, Arkadiusz Jakubik and Wojciech Pszoniak.

Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman in The Master

October sees the release of many great titles. Jacques Audiard’s follow-up to A Prophet, Rust and Bone, is a particular take on a modern love story starring Marion Cotillard; Paul Thomas Anderson’s eagerly anticipated The Master opens on the 16th alongside the equally awaited Palme d’Or winning Love by Michael Haneke; while Mads Mikkelsen puts in a stunning performance in Thomas Vinterberg’s The Hunt which was a big hit at Cannes and won him the Best Actor prize.

Laurence of Arabia (restored and re-released from November 23rd)

There are also many IFI Classics on offer with the 50th anniversary new digital print of Lawrence of Arabia and Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (in its extended U.S. cut!) making a return to the big screen.

Ross Keane

Visit for more information on our November screenings or follow us on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Irish Film Week in Beirut, Lebanon: Notes from its Co-Director

Don Duncan, Co-Director of Worlds Alike: Irish Film Week in Beirut talks about running the first ever festival of Irish film in Lebanon and its local impact. This festival was set up with the support of IFI International and Culture Ireland. For more about IFI International's activities and programmes for cultural exhibitors around the world, see 

“I’m so sorry this happened to you,” said one spectator as she emerged from the screening of Bernadette: Notes on a Political Journey, a documentary by Lelia Doolan, when it was screened as part of the Irish Film Festival in Beirut in March 2012.

The goal of the festival was to show Irish films that would resonate with a Lebanese audience. To this end, the themes of national identity, foreign interference, conflict and post-conflict resolution that permeated the programme of nine feature films and 12 shorts from Ireland. (See the trailer.)

This was the first ever festival of Irish film in Lebanon. The place Ireland holds in the Lebanese public imagination, as well as the concrete links between the countries (Irish U.N. peacekeepers have been posted in Lebanon for decades), came through in the audience figures and general buzz that generated around the event.

With funding from Culture Ireland and fantastic administrative support from the IFI, we managed to bring over actor Stephen Rea (who spoke to the audience after the screening of The Butcher Boy) and director Lelia Doolan, who fielded a lengthy and enthusiastic Q&A discussion after her film was shown.

People were struck by the similarities between the countries' recent histories and were inspired by the grass roots activism that was apparent in both films about the Northern Irish civil rights movement as well as a more modern popular struggle in Ireland – that of the people of Rossport, Co. Mayo against the business interests of Shell oil, as depicted in Risteard O'Domhnaill’s film The Pipe.

Don Duncan, Co-Director

The project was organised by Irish journalist Don Duncan with the Lebanese civic society NGO Nahwa al-Muwataniyya (NAAM) and in conjunction with the Metropolis art house cinema in Beirut. It was the first in an annual series of festivals run by NAAM that seek to showcase the films of countries that share common political, social and cultural characteristics with Lebanon.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Remembering Tiernan

I often wanted to write about Tiernan but never found the right way to talk about the vast activity of his life. So this is really a fragmented, impressionistic piece in response to Sunniva’s request and not really a definitive thing.

These first memories are closely bound up with the group of film makers whose vision created the space for all that would follow.

Tiernan MacBride

I am at the Cork Film Festival in 1981. Joe Comerford’s Traveler is the opening film. Thaddeus O’Sullivan’s documentary on Jack B. Yeats is also being screened. At the Q&A, a large man is asking searching questions about the making of my film Maeve. Talking in public was difficult for me and I was nervous at being challenged.

Next day, the film makers meet to demand the setting up of an Irish Film Board. Passionate arguments are heard from an inner room where Tiernan and Lelia retire to draft a letter with the precise wording that everyone could agree on. An intensity that is so alive and focused compared to film makers discussions in London and New York.

Two years earlier, when I began talking about making Maeve, someone said “Oh you should see Thaddeus’s film.”  I tracked it down to the MoMa library and was watching it on an old 4 plate steenbeck when the researcher came in and said, ”You know, we have these other Irish films you might be interested in.“

So that’s how I got to see On a Paving Stone Mounted, Poitin and Down the Corner. I know there’s an entire constellation of causes and conditions around how new voices of world cinema emerge, but there’s still something magical about how this energy arises at different times and in different countries. On that day in that little editing room in New York, I had a real sense of this momentum gathering in Ireland.

And in the years that followed I saw how Tiernan’s phenomenal energy was fused with every aspect of that momentum.

Tiernan and crew on a set of Christmas Morning

He chaired the Association of Independent Film Makers, who lobbied for years for the setting up of the Board and who had developed the vision for a sustainable Irish cinema. He chaired the boards of the Irish Film Theatre (in Earlsfort Terrace) and the Dublin Film Festival and was on the Board of the Cork Festival. A union activist, he chaired the film section of ITGWU for a time. And he was a crucial force in the IFI from its early days through its big transition to becoming the IFC in Eustace Street. 

Most importantly Tiernan was a member of the Irish Film Board from 1982 to 1987 which was when Charles Haughey abruptly closed it down.  During his time on the Board, Tiernan was an unswerving advocate for the rights of directors and the development of low budget film making.

He helped set up Film Base, loaned equipment, attended meetings, led workshops where he imparted skills and even supported films financially when they looked on the brink of not happening. He felt that a healthy  film culture could not be built on the work of a few directors and fought long and hard for the establishment of an inclusive infrastructure focused on access and training.

Unusually perhaps for the film world, Tiernan operated from a position of wanting to make situations work better for everyone. His instincts were always to help. In my own case, alas, I sometimes perceived this as being interfering.

When I got involved with The Parade of Innocence (a huge collaboration between artists and political activists in support for the Guildford Four and the Birmingham Six which would take place through in Dublin on December 9th 1989), Tiernan kept asking how the huge rig carrying Thom McGinty would actually work as it was dragged through Dublin. Annoyed, I kept backing him off. Everyone I knew was frantically working flat out organizing the event, raising funds, making  costumes and props, rehearsing in the Meeting House and at the Point Depot. I kept insisting that all would be fine and that there was no time for runthroughs.

IFI Library named in honour of Tiernan MacBride

But of course he was right, because when he finally pressurized us into gathering at the City Centre at 6am on a freezing dark December morning, the all important rig barely made it as far as the street before the wheels buckled. Disaster. But then the rig was repaired everything worked brilliantly on December 9th.

When Tiernan died, Film Ireland published a compilation of memories from friends and colleagues. I remember laughing when I read Gina Moxley’s piece about Tiernan being a very patient man, because that’s not generally how people saw him.

Gina was totally right, though. Yes, he was certainly uncompromising and wrathful at times in support of what he believed in, but Tiernan was profoundly patient with the things that really mattered. He understood the long haul necessary in order to bring the dream of a Irish cinema to fruition.

Maybe this was the result of growing up in such an intensely political family. Tiernan believed deeply in the democratic process. I have seen him outvoted on a particular issue and then be able to put personal feelings aside in order to represent the prevailing view, which is something I couldn’t do.

All this activity went on alongside a film making life. As well as being a well known commercials director, Tiernan loved the films of Costa Gavras and Francesco Rosi and wanted to make big political films. In 1978, his short film “Christmas Morning” was selected for competition at Cannes, but I think after that he was plunged into the urgency of Irish film politics and so he moved away from the idea of being a director to devote himself to being a supporter of other film makers. He was a positive force in Irish life and a crucial voice in the creation of Irish cinema.

Pat Murphy
Director and Filmmaker

Find out more on IFI Tiernan MacBride Library on our website 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Coming Home to Dreamtime Ireland

I remember the first time I came across the work of John Moriarty. I was sitting alongside Peadar Ó’Riada (the film’s composer) in his home studio in Cúil Aodha, his father Seán looking on from a prominent poster image on the wall above us. Parallel to Peadar’s central role as composer and musician is his role as a form of community chieftan – steeped in the sean-nós world of the gael – and he has become a marked guiding presence and influence in my creative life over the past few years. I was on one of my frequent visits home from New York, it was well past midnight and Peadar and I were having one of our heated ‘discussions’. In order to seal the ‘discussion’ in his favour, Peadar played me an excerpt from one of John Moriarty’s talks. It was a talk that John gave upon one of his visits to neighbouring Baile Mhúirne that explored Irish mythology and its relevance to how we live now. I listened amazed to this sonorous, almost shamanic Kerry accent and for the first time in my life I heard so much of the essence of the world’s wisdom and spiritual traditions (that had interested me personally for the last 20 years in my travels around the world) essentialised within the context of Irish myth and culture.

That was in 2008 and parallel to my visits to Cúil Aodha I would be visiting Julius Ziz (my co-director) and his family who live in the heart centre of the magical limestone landscape of the Burren. Close friends of mine from New York, Julius (a renowned Lithuanian filmmaker) managed the legendary Anthology Film Archives in Manhattan while I ran the Ocularis Screening Series in Brooklyn and, given both of our long associations with experimental film in New York, it was inevitable that any collaboration we would undertake together would be influenced stylistically by experimental film.  

My visits to Julius and his family were filled with many conversations about local Irish folklore and it’s almost palpable presence embodied in the surrounding myth-laden landscapes of the Burren. This inevitably fed into our idea of collaborating on a project that would somehow draw upon Irish myth, and once we encountered the work of John Moriarty it was only a matter of time before those conversations would evolve into the film that became Dreamtime, Revisited

In his obituary The Guardian would write that John Moriarty was “widely regarded as having one of the finest minds of his generation” and that “many consider John as a major writer, comparable to Yeats, Joyce and Beckett.” 

It shocked and saddened both Julius and me that John’s work is not more widely known, even at home here in Ireland. I think it may be a matter of years, if not decades, before the significance of John’s unique contribution will come to be fully recognized and appreciated and hopefully our film will serve in some way to further that process.

There is a quote from John’s book Dreamtime that, ever since I’ve come across it, influences so much of my own work in one way or another.  And given the current crisis of identify we face as a nation it seems like an invitation too welcoming to refuse: "Isn't it time, after centuries of uncharted exile, we ourselves came home. Isn't it time . . . we came home to Dreamtime Ireland." 

Dónal Ó Céilleachair 
Film Director

Dreamtime, Revisited opens from October 12th to 18th, exclusively at the IFI. 
There will be a post-screening Q&A with co-directors Dónal Ó Céilleachair and Julius Ziz after the 18.20pm screening on Friday Oct 12.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Passing of Robert Monks

It is with great sadness that we learnt of the unexpected death of Robert Monks on last Thursday morning.

Bob Monks, Willard Van Dyke and Walter Cronkite filming Ireland the Tear and the Smile in 1960

Bob began his film career as a technician with the National Film Institute in the late 40s. His principal job was as a travelling projectionist showing 16mm films from the educational film library in schools and halls around the country but also as a cameraman on the films the Institute was producing at the time – films about inaugurations and religious ceremonies and the annual GAA finals. After a period of training in the UK in the 1950s he worked as a highly-regarded freelance cameraman on a wide variety of feature films, television series and commercials – such as Ireland the Tear and the Smile (1961) for US television,  The One Nighters (1963) which he also edited,  and The Prisoner (1967) the UK TV series with Patrick MacGoohan that achieved cult status.   He was rewarded for his excellence with a Gold Camera Award at the 1975 US Television Commercials Festival and was a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society.

He was perhaps best known for his stunning cinematography on the award-winning films of Louis Marcus – films such as Fleá Ceoil, Pobal  and two Academy  Award-nominated short films, Páistí  ag Obair and Conquest of Light. Louis has said “He is a most accomplished and versatile cameraman from whom I have learned an enormous amount”.

It is Bob filming 1957 GAA Football Finals for National Film Institute 

In more recent years Bob re-engaged with the IFI through his work with Peter Canning to create the invaluable television history of Irish film production Memories in Focus (1996). Bob had a uniquely textured sense of the history of Irish film – drawn from meticulous research with the Liam O’Leary collection in the National Library and elsewhere but also based on his personal experience as a busy practitioner in the industry over many years.  He was always magnanimous with his knowledge and had incredible powers of recall. Any casual question to Bob would result in an immensely detailed and authoritative answer often with brilliant gossipy  asides about who lived next door to whom or what actress was the sister-in-law of what film distributor – the kind of detail that had you reaching for your notepad to jot it all down.  His expertise on the visits of the first Lumiere cameramen to Ireland and on the early cinema exploits of James Joyce was particularly fascinating and lead to a series of memorable film presentations.

On his retirement as a cameraman he was funded by a group of state cultural bodies to research and compile Cinema Ireland, a CD-Rom database of Irish films and filmmakers 1896-1986, published by the National Library of Ireland.  He then continued in the NLI his extensive research into the origins and early decades of Irish Filmmaking.

Bob has been a loyal and engaged IFI Council Member for many years.  He has been as generous with his films which he entrusted to us for preservation as he has been with his knowledge which he shared in many long and illuminating conversations.  He’ll be sadly missed.
Our condolences to Bob’s wife Ina and family.

Sunniva O'Flynn
IFI Curator

October at the IFI

After a busy September celebrating the IFI’s 20th anniversary of its home in Temple Bar, we wanted the first month of the next 20 years to demonstrate the breadth of our programming and to start the way we mean to go on.

Lenny Abrahamson

To coincide with the release of What Richard Did (October 5th), we are delighted to present a focus on Lenny Abrahamson’s work, including a rare opportunity to see his 2007 RTÉ television series, Prosperity. Lenny will participate in a free public interview about his work with Tony Tracy from NUI Galway on October 6th. We will also be presenting a season of African cinema, which has been curated by the filmmaker and critic Mark Cousins. Taking West Africa as a focus, the season will challenge commonly-held perceptions of African cinema, and features films from the ‘60s to today.

Stories From Africa: Heremakono

In the build-up to the IFI French Film Festival which returns this November (14th – 25th), we are presenting a selection of films from one of France’s most prestigious independent production and distribution companies, Les Films du Losange. To celebrate its 50th anniversary, we have a programme of the company’s films in the weeks leading up to the Festival, both in October and November, which commences with work from Marguerite Duras and Jacques Rivette.

Les Films Du Losange: Céline et Julie Vont En Bateau

IFI Horrorthon raises it blood-thirsty head once again for our annual celebration of all things gory with a selection of new releases and classics from the vaults. The Festival will welcome its very first ‘scream queen’, Danielle Harris, and we’re delighted to be presenting Irish director Ciaran Foy’s award-winning feature Citadel which was a big hit in Toronto. Check out the separate flyer and for full programme details.  

IFI Horrorthon: Dracula: Prince of Darkness

October sees the release of many of the big films from Cannes 2012. Killing Them Softly starring Brad Pitt continues until October 11th, while Leos Carax’s indescribable Holy Motors runs until October 18th.
Walter Salles’ hotly-anticipated adaptation of Kerouac’s classic On the Road opens on October 12th after receiving a terrific response at Cannes.

Leos Carax's Holy Motors

There are other great new releases lined up too. The Audience Award winner at the IFI Stranger Than Fiction Documentary Film Festival in August, 5 Broken Cameras, opens on October 19th and is a powerful film about one father’s determination to capture footage of growing unrest in his Palestinian village. And if you recently enjoyed the stunning Samsara, you’ll now get a chance to see Ron Fricke’s equally impressive offering from two decades earlier with the re-release of Baraka, with the 18.30 screenings on October 20th & 21st on 70mm!


Finally, our Monthly Must-See from the IFI Irish Film Archive is one of the first cinema verité films, Chronique d’un été. Sarah Pierce was commissioned by the IFI to undertake a research project in the Archive of which this film formed a central part, and which resulted in an exhibition at NCAD throughout this month. She will introduce this screening on Wednesday, October 10th.

Ross Keane
IFI Director

For more information on October screenings, visit our website or download our monthly IFI Brochure. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

IFI20: A Celebration of Audiences

The IFI’s home in Temple Bar is all about the people who come here to engage with our extensive programme, so when we started to plan our anniversary celebrations, we very quickly decided that we wanted the focus to be on our audiences. We wanted to celebrate the experiences that our audiences have had here over the last 20 years by reliving some of the big moments whilst also looking to the future.

For those who have strong memories of films that they’ll always associate with the IFI, we presented a season of 20 Landmark Films which featured big IFI titles including Natural Born Killers, Vertigo (on 70mm) and Mulholland Dr. Our Open Weekend threw our doors open for two days of free screenings and events for old and new audiences. We had queues from 7am which stretched up Eustace Street and down as far as the Olympia Theatre on Dame Street! We had a 1992 Day, a series of blogs throughout the month written by guest contributors, a pub quiz, DJs, a pop-up museum, tours of the IFI Irish Film Archive, Irish shorts from every year of the last 20, afternoon talks, discussions, archive and family screenings, and the unveiling of newly commissioned pieces of artworks. To close the proceedings, we were delighted to screen the European premiere of What Richard Did, the latest film by leading Irish director, Lenny Abrahamson.

IFI Open Weekend 2012

As we come to the end of a fantastic month, I think we managed to achieve what we set out to do. We greeted new audiences and welcomed back many faces who hadn’t been for some time alongside our faithful regulars. There was an amazing energy in the building throughout the month as audiences really engaged with all of the celebratory events and it generated a sense of enthusiasm for what the IFI has achieved over the last 20 years and excitement about what lies in store for its next chapter. 

Paul Lynch, Sinéad Cusack and Jeremy Irons  - Waterland

There are so many people to thank for the blood, sweat and tears that have been put into the IFI, both over the last 20 years and indeed back to our origins in 1943. There have been successive dedicated Boards, Councils, Directors and staff who have all helped shape our story and, as we look back, each and every person involved should take a bow as I think we have achieved the original vision of becoming a thriving, accessible, relevant and vital institution which now has a central role to play in Ireland’s cultural landscape.

The Archive’s Oscar and Emmy statuettes on a permanent display 

So as we close the page on the chapter of the last 20 years, we now look forward to an exciting new phase in the organisation’s story. The IFI is at an exciting point; as we look to the future, we are about to announce the findings of a major IFI Education research report, Film Focus, which could help to define the role of film in the curriculum and shape media literacy strategy. Next year we will open a brand new second home for the IFI Irish Film Archive with additional vaults at NUI Maynooth so we have the capacity to continue to ensure the preservation of Ireland’s moving image heritage. And we have exciting exhibition programmes, both in Ireland and abroad (with a focus on celebrating the EU Presidency with Irish film programmes across Europe in the first six months of 2013) which we hope will continue to engage and enthral a variety of audiences.

Here’s to the next 20 years!

Ross Keane

IFI20: Remembering the IFI

On the occasion of the 20th anniversary, I have been asked to post a few comments about my experience as a film-viewer and customer at the IFI.

To start at the beginning, my almost life-long enthusiasm for the art of film was kindled by a viewing of Sergei Eisenstein’s The Battleship Potemkin in Roscommon – one channel TV land, the late 1960s. Arriving in Dublin in 1973, I made valiant efforts to view as many films as possible. Good work over the years was achieved by various people in many film societies, to mention three venues of note: Earlsfort Terrace, John Player Theatre SCR and The Academy Pearse Street. Praise should also be bestowed on the establishment of The Dublin Film Festival in 1985, remembering the late Michael Dwyer. It was the establishment of the Irish Film Centre in 1992 that was the most significant event in my film viewing life.

Since then, I would have attended an average of 150 films per year. Given my regular attendance, the Eustace Street venue has become a ‘home from home’. The now monthly programme is eagerly anticipated , as I plan my month’s leisure activities to fit in with the priority viewing time to be spent at the IFI.

The relationship with the Box Office staff has been a heart-warming experience, dealing with people who are pleasant and agreeable. On this occasion I should remember all the past staff that were very helpful to me over the years: Veronica, Ben, John, Matt, Mark, Aisling, Paul, Stewart, Mathieu, Eadáoin, Rita, Hanne, Sammy, Antonella, Paola, and Colin. I should also include the current staff lead by Liam, Darragh, the two Sarahs, Shadaan, Ronan, Greg, Megan, Anthony and Katie – thanks again all.

To isolate some highlights over the period may be somewhat unfair but these birthdays generally give way to reverie.

First: three films I never expected to see on the Big Screen: Sego Parajanov’s Shadows of Our Forgotten Ancestors; Ariane Mnouchkine’s Moliére; and Ritwik Ghatak’s The Cloud-Capped Star.
Second: three seasons which were brilliant: Jean Renoir, Ingmar Bergman and Howard Hawks.
Third: three silent films that gave me a new appreciation of the pioneers: Victor Sjostrom’s The Outlaw and His Wife; Walter Ruttmann’s Berlin Symphony of a Great City, and Vsevolod Pudovkin’s Mother.
Fourth: a great weekend ‘follow-up’ that was Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Berlin Alexanderplatz (931 minutes);
Fifth: a documentary that springs to mind Nicolas Philibert’s Etre et avoir;
Sixth: a Q&A with Harold Pinter;
Finally: three highlights from 2012 that keep me attending the screenings: the Carl Theodor Dreyer season, Béla Tarr’s The Turin Horse and Jean Vigo’s L’Atlante.

Carl T. Dreyer

Remembering all who make it possible for us to enjoy the films, a special mention goes to the programme directors, especially Pete, and not forgetting the projectionists.
Also calling to mind the old bookshop and the great work done by Mary and Dylan in particular – so many books, so little time.

It’s been a great twenty years – here’s to the next twenty!

Séamus Farrell