Friday, September 28, 2012

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

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