Capital cinema


The eighth Jameson Dublin International Film Festival will be its usual exploratory, exuberant, celebratory self, thanks to one of its great champions – Michael Dwyer, the Irish Times film correspondent who died recently and to whom this year’s festival is dedicated. DONALD CLARKElooks at the delights in store for cinema fans

IT hardly needs to be said that Michael Dwyer’s recent death casts something of a shadow over the looming eighth Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.

Michael, this newspaper’s late film correspondent, founded the first Dublin Film Festival in 1985 and, following its subsequent floundering under different management, resurrected the event in its present form seven years ago. Quite appropriately, Gráinne Humphreys, who took over as director for the 2008 event, has decided to dedicate the upcoming festival to Michael’s memory. The 2010 jamboree will feature a season of films that Michael particularly championed, and the Dublin Film Critics Circle has named a breakthrough award in his honour.

Of course, the festival’s continuing existence and growing vitality is, in itself, a blazing tribute to Michael.

Since its re-emergence in 2003, the city’s film enthusiasts have become used to setting aside late February for a few week’s busy tramping about the city centre in search of the latest obscure Kazakhstani tragedy or upcoming Hollywood blockbuster. Though a native of distant Kerry, Michael always felt that one of the festival’s key purposes was to bring Dublin’s cineastes together and get them talking about their favourite (and least favourite) movies.

Humphreys and her eager team have, yet again, made sure that there are plenty of chatty events at which gossip can be exchanged. There will be a film quiz in the Dublin City Library on Pearse Street. You can discuss the state of Irish cinema – and cinema about Ireland – in an event called “Ireland on Screen”. Pat Liddy, historian and storyteller, will be walking punters around the sites of the many, mostly vanished cinemas that used to crowd around the O’Connell Street area.

Celebrity guests dropping in to join the chatter include Patricia Clarkson, Sally Potter, Tilda Swinton, Neil Jordan, Colin Farrell and Kristin Scott Thomas. But such a festival does, of course, rise or fall on the quality of its movies.

Beginning with a screening of Jordan’s Ondine(which the star, a certain Mr C Farrell, is expected to attend) this year’s JDiff takes in new films by the likes of Werner Herzog, Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese and Tim Burton. Mind you, the greatest pleasure in any film festival is the discovery of gems by hitherto obscure film-makers. We, thus, should also mention you can also catch new work by one Urszula Antoniak and from Mr Bobby Paunescu. Just dive in.

The best of the fest: Donald Clarke’s sneak preview


The opening film of the festival lures two longtime friends of the event back to the Savoy cinema. Neil Jordan’s Ondine, made during a period of inactivity following the Hollywood writers’ strike, stars Colin Farrell as a Cork fisherman who catches a mysterious young woman in his net. Is she a mermaid?

Savoy 1, Thursday, Feb 18, 7.30pm


In honour of the festival’s founder, an eclectic series of films – all championed by Michael – will be screened throughout the 10 days. The varied programme includes the massive Italian epic The Best of Youth (Michael’s favourite film of the last decade), Oliver Stone’s uncharacteristically focused Salvador, and Stephen Frears’s groundbreaking My Beautiful Laundrette.

Various venues


Already building up a formidable reputation, Ken Wardrop’s hugely original feature debut (selected for the Sundance Film Festival) listens to a selection of women from the Irish midlands as they discuss the men in their lives. The odd thing is they all seem to be talking about the same person. A great career looms for the Irish documentarian.

Screen 1, Friday, Feb 19, 6.40pm


An orphan film is one that no longer officially belongs to any individual or corporate entity. This intriguing event – Installation? Exhibition? – will put a number of the oddest orphan films before visitors to a specially designed space at Cultivate on Saint Andrews Street. Savour such curious delights as a Turkish Wizard of Ozand a North Korean Godzilla.

Cultivate at The Greenhouse, St Andrews Street, runs throughout festival


Gasper Noë’s enormously long, defiantly unhinged follow-up to Irréversible caused more heads to be scratched than any other film at last year’s Cannes. Featuring the expected dollops of sex and violence, the picture does, nonetheless, sound like an unmissable experience for fans of the transgressive French director.

Light House, Friday, Feb 19, 8pm


The granddaddy of experimental raunch, the key documenter of Hollywood Babylon, the supremo of leather-clad naughtiness, visits Dublin for a very welcome retrospective of his hugely influential films. Hosted in cooperation with the Irish Film Institute, the season features a talk from the great man (who turns 83 next Wednesday) following a screening of such classics as Lucifer Risingand Invocation of My Demon Brother.

IFI, various times


Whether you love Michael Moore or regard him as an unreliable blowhard, there is no denying that each new release constitutes a significant event in the film calendar. His latest quasi-documentary finds Moore tackling the causes of and potential solutions to the recent economic meltdown. Expect superlative montage.

Savoy 1, Saturday, Feb 20 , 11am


Steady there, you fans of grim, postmodern squirm-drama. The unique Todd Solondz has delivered a sequel to his impressively horrid 1998 masterpiece, Happiness. With predictable unpredictability, Todd has recast all the roles – sometimes with actors who look nothing like the original players. It’s always wartime in Solondzland.

Cineworld 17, Saturday, Feb 20th, 2pm


A novel take on the post- apocalyptic genre, Conor Horgan’s Irish drama follows a bickering pair of couples in a remote cabin as they attempt to get to grips with shortages and discomfort. More Harold Pinter than Mad Max, the film has been gathering good buzz since its premiere at the Galway Film Fleadh.

Screen 1, Saturday, Feb 20th, 4.30pm


Atom Egoyan’s latest finds Julianne Moore hiring young Amanda Seyfried to test the fidelity of husband Liam Neeson. Based on a script by Erin Cressida Wilson (Secretary), Chloe promises to get Egoyan back to the saucy, tricky form of early works such as Exotica. Screen 1, Sunday, Feb 21st, 9pm


David Brophy conducts the DIT Symphony Orchestra in a tribute to one of the greatest of all film composers. The National Concert Hall will swell to the melodic strains of melodies from such adored films as 8 ½, The Leopard, La Dolce Vita and – the score that won Rota the Oscar – Francis Ford Coppola’s imperishable The Godfather.

Cineworld 17, Monday, February 22nd, 8.30pm


Okay, just what is this thing? Though it shares some of its title with that of Abel Ferrara’s superbly deranged Bad Lieutenant, Werner Herzog’s latest, starring Nicolas Cage as a loopy cop, is, apparently, neither a sequel nor a remake. Whatever, it sounds absolutely delicious.

Cineworld 17, Monday, Feb 22nd, 8.30pm


Carter Gunn and Ross McDonnell examine the decline in bee populations in recent years and allow us to draw some sobering conclusions about the future of the planet. Rather gorgeously made, the picture is a co-production from Fastnet Films and the Irish Film Board.

Screen 1, Tuesday, Feb 23rd, 8.30pm


Winner of the Un Certain Regard award at Cannes, this weird, disturbing Greek film has already established a significant cult following. Offering uneasy echoes of certain recent news stories, the picture concerns a father who keeps his daughters isolated from an outside world he describes as being impossibly dangerous. Nice and queasy.

Cineworld 9, Wednesday, Feb 24th, 9pm


Martin Scorsese fans have been slavering to see the great man’s adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s crime novel ever since it was kicked back from a planed autumn release. It’s finally here. If the deranged trailer is any guide, the flick – starring Leonardo DiCaprio in a good hat – should be a hoot.

Cineworld 17, Thursday, Feb 25th, 8.40pm


Impossibly welcome screening of one the great, undervalued horror films on its 50th anniversary. Directed by Georges Franju, the picture details a mad scientist’s efforts to repair his daughter’s damaged face. Many die in the process.

Light House, Friday, Feb 26th, 6pm


Before Hollywood woke up to the galloping success of Stieg Larsson’s feminist crime novel, Swedish film- maker Niels Arden Oplev managed to get this crafty adaptation off the ground. Larsson’s many enthusiasts will want to get on board before the picture is remade with the likes of Jessica Alba. It could happen.

Savoy 1, Saturday, Feb 27th, 11am


Should you be interested, this writer will join his colleagues to name our picks for the best films and performances of the festival. This year, a special award for the most impressive breakthrough has been named in honour of Michael Dwyer. The event, which should have starry presence, is free to attend.

IFI, Saturday, Feb 27th, 6.30pm


The climax of the festival’s Kristen Scott Thomas season finds the great lady playing a housewife who escapes her unhappy marriage, only to encounter even greater catastrophes. Equally adept in French or English, Scott Thomas, who will attend the screening, pulls on her Gallic hat (beret?) for admired director Catherine Corsini.

Cineworld 17, Saturday, Feb 27th, 6.40pm


It’s a Woody Allen film starring the great Larry David as a grumpy (you don’t say!) nuclear physicist who once came close to winning the Nobel Prize. Now he spends his time hating people. What’s not to like? Even Allen’s least successful projects feature moments of transcendence. Whatever Worksshould be no exception.

Savoy 1, Sunday, Feb 28th, 11am


The combination of Tim Burton and Lewis Carroll sounds like a marriage made in some particularly freaky version of camp heaven. A kind of sequel to Carroll’s metaphysical fantasies, the picture stars (you’re way ahead of me) Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter and (once again) Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen.

Savoy 1, Sunday, Feb 28th, 2pm


If you are a film festival regular, you hardly need to be told that this is the hottest ticket of the entire event. You may get a racy blockbuster such as 300. You may get something a little more eccentric such as Hamlet 2.Nothing quite beats the atmosphere when the curtains finally sweep open.

Savoy 1, Sunday, Feb 28th, 5pm


Lavish, highly praised Italian film focusing on the discontents of a wealthy family as they gather to celebrate the birthday of the ruling patriarch. Star Tilda Swinton, key catalyst for the inevitable tensions, will be at the Savoy to wave at the crowd and close the festival in lofty, Caledonian style.

Savoy 1, Sunday, Feb 28th, 8pm