Thursday, October 31, 2013

Calling all IFI Explorers!

IFI Explorers is our club for 15 to 18 year olds who want to discover a world of film beyond Hollywood blockbusters. Student Oleg Kuvsincikov came up with the club's name and here he explains why: 

I chose IFI Explorers as a name for the IFI teen film offer because the films that are shown in the Irish Film Institute are unusual and different to the ones in other cinemas.  

In my opinion, ‘explorers’ creates that sense of discovering something new about films. For example, I watched a film called Shun Li and the Poet (pictured above) with my school in the IFI and I discovered that even though the film had barely any action in it, it was still very interesting because of the plot and the conflict in the film.

I personally feel that the IFI teen film offer will help teenagers explore a world of film and that is why I have chosen the name IFI Explorers to reflect that.

Oleg Kuvsincikov (Age 15)

This month we are offering the special price of just €3 a ticket for screenings between 1pm and 6pm to those aged 15 – 18. Don’t forget if you buy a ticket for three films, you get your fourth ticket FREE! Check out this month's films.

Contact Dee Quinlan for more information, or sign up to receive the IFI Explorers newsletter (scroll down page to enter your name and email).

Monday, October 21, 2013

Keeping the summit dreams alive

What is different about seeing a wide-shot Everest, the world’s highest mountain for the first time in The Epic for Everest (1923), to seeing it captured on camera today? To my untrained eye, at least, nothing observable about the mountain has changed but context here is everything. To see the mountain rear up above the cameraman as an pure unconquered frontier of our planet feels entirely different to seeing it now, knowing the mountain is strewn with commercial expeditions, egos, industrial disputes, rubbish, fixed ropes, corpses, and a ladder allowing the most difficult climbing to be bypassed.

It’s not just getting to the top and back that matters, climbers and mountaineers rigorously debate the ‘ethics’ of what they call ‘style of ascent’. That’s why the climbing community made such a fuss last week when Ueli Steck climbed the smaller (though fiercely dangerous) Himalaya mountain Annapurna. Not only had he found a new route on the South Face, he’d gone up and down unroped and alone without supplemental oxygen in one astonishing 28-hour push.

While most modern mountaineers wouldn't object to the tactics used by Mallory and Irvine on Everest, the footage of the Tibetan people that the climbers used as porters and passed through en-route to Everest certainly lacks a different kind of style. The raw Imperialist viewpoint espoused by the intertitles which seems to barely distinguish Tibetan man from baby donkey is enough to make anyone squirm, though this patronising tone gives way in parts to an irrepressible wonder at the ancient monastic civilisation the team passes through in the high valleys of the Himalayas.

One thinks of Steck again, earlier this year the victim of a horrific confrontation between the Sherpas and a group of fast and light Alpine climbers on Everest, possibly exacerbated by the Western team having apparently outgrown the need for traditional Sherpa support. The Epic of Everest shows us this mutually exploitative relationship that shaped 20th Century Himalayan mountaineering in its very infancy.

Do we crave and seek adventure in our own lives? What level of risk do we deem acceptable in pursuing it? For most of us it would fall far, far below the risks that Mallory and Irvine knowingly and paid for with their lives. Even today Everest remains, by any scale of human activity, phenomenally dangerous and yet thousands attempt it, sometimes controversially suppressing the most basic human instincts to aid ailing climbers to avoid harm or to keep their own summit dreams alive.

We’ll probably never know if Mallory and Irvine summited Everest before falling; it seems unlikely. But The Epic of Everest is a great chance to see a real frontier of human exploration.

Patrick Stewart

The Epic Of Everest is showing, EXCLUSIVELY at the IFI, from October 18th to October 24th.  

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Very extremely dangerous Jerry McGill

A year since its debut at last year's IFI Stranger Than Fiction Documentary Film Festival, Paul Duane returns with his feature film, Very Extremely Dangerous, a tragic story of Jerry McGill, an aging rocker and the last American outlaw. So why make a film about him? Director Paul Duane explains.  

Jerry McGill is too obscure to even be called a cult figure.

Only those who've read Robert Gordon's seminal It Came From Memphis or seen William Eggleston's dark, outrageous 'home movie' Stranded in Canton would have the vaguest idea who he is, or those rockabilly completists who own a copy of Sun 326, Lovestruck, recorded by Jerry and his band The Topcoats in 1959, his first and only official release. It's not even a particularly good record (the B-side is better).

So why make a film about him when there are so many other, probably more deserving musicians out there?

Well, back in mid-2009 I was facing a blank wall – my first cut of Barbaric Genius, my film on John Healy, had been rejected, all further funding placed in question & it looked as if it would never be completed.

So when I got an email from Jerry's fiancée Joyce telling me that he'd been diagnosed with lung cancer, had booked a recording session in Memphis next week, and wanted myself and Robert Gordon to meet him there, I grabbed an idea out of thin air.

The story of a man who blew all his chances the first time round, who turned his back on a promising music career in favour of a criminal life,  trying to redeem himself while staring death in the eyes. I knew Jerry was charismatic and a great storyteller from my phone conversations with him, but could he carry a film? Who knew?

Out of nothing more than that idea, and Jerry's insistence that he wasn't going to go quietly into the night, that he was finally going to follow up his one and only record, myself and Robert Gordon dragged this film, kicking and screaming and fighting us every inch of the way, into existence. Was it worth it? You tell me.

Paul Duane
Film Director

Very Extremely Dangerous opens on Friday, October 18th, 2013, exclusively at the IFI. There will be a post-screening Q&A with director Paul Duane following the 20.30 screening of the film. BOOK NOW!