Irish critics vote for 'Others'

 

In the second annual poll of the Dublin Film Critics Circle, The Lives of Others was the runaway winner for best international film of 2007.

It scored almost twice as many points as runner-up The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Next in line came This Is England, Zodiac and I'm Not There. David Fincher was voted best director for Zodiac, followed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (The Lives of Others), Todd Haynes (I'm Not There), and tied for fourth place, Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Ultimatum) and Shane Meadows (This Is England).

Lenny Abrahamson's Garage comfortably led in the voting for best Irish film, followed by Once, Kings, Small Engine Repair and Shrooms. The Breakthrough award went to 13-year-old Saoirse Ronan (Atonement), with Shia LaBeouf (Transformers, Disturbia) in second place, Once director John Carney came third, Henckel von Donnersmarck fourth, and Seth Rogan (Knocked Up, Superbad) and Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild) tied for fifth place.

In the best actress category, Julie Christie was the clear winner for Away from Her, followed by Marion Cotillard (La Vie en Rose), Cate Blanchett (I'm Not There), Amy Adams (Enchanted) and, in a four-way tie for fifth, Keira Knightley (Atonement), Maggie Gyllenhaal (Sherrybaby), Angelina Jolie (A Mighty Heart) and Naomi Watts (Eastern Promises).

Ulrich Mühe was named best actor for The Lives of Others, with Viggo Mortensen (Eastern Promises) in second place, James McAvoy (Atonement) and Pat Shortt (Garage) tied for third, and Casey Affleck fifth for Jesse James.

Cannes Leigh cut?

Is Mike Leigh snubbing Cannes this year? In 1996 Leigh was the toast of the festival when he was awarded the Palme d'Or for Secrets & Lies, and in 1993 the festival jury voted him best director for Naked. But when Cannes rejected Vera Drake (2004) for a place in competition, Leigh submitted it to the rival Venice festival, where it won first prize, the Golden Lion. Accepting that award, Leigh remarked, "I would like to thank most sincerely the Cannes Film Festival for rejecting this film so that I could come to Venice."

Happy-Go-Lucky, Leigh's first film since Vera Drake, is due for cinema release in the UK and Ireland on April 18th, four weeks before Cannes, which prefers its competition entries to be world premieres. Made in Leigh's trademark improvisational style, the film is set in contemporary London and stars Sally Hawkins and Eddie Marsan.

Nobody is watching

Once upon a time, movies showing on TV over Christmas generated some excitement. But no longer, now that terrestrial TV has become the funeral parlour for films, the last stop after cinema, DVD, downloads and satellite. Of all the movies shown on British terrestrial TV on Christmas Day 2007, only one scraped into the top 10 ratings for the day: Finding Nemo, in ninth place with 8.3 million viewers. EastEnders topped the chart with 13.9 million viewers, closely followed by the Doctor Who episode starring Kylie Minogue, with 13.8 million. Nine of the top 10 programmes were on BBC1, while ITV was represented only by Coronation Street.

Finding Fassbinder

The gifted and prolific German writer-director Rainer Werner Fassbinder is the subject of a welcome retrospective programme running on Tuesdays this month at Ballina Film Club, Co Mayo. By 1982, when he met his untimely death from a drugs overdose at the age of 36, Fassbinder had made nearly 30 feature films and the epic TV series, Berlin Alexanderplatz.

The season begins next Tuesday afternoon with I Just Don't Want You to Love Me, a 1993 documentary on Fassbinder, followed that night by one of his most widely admired films, The Marriage of Maria Braun, examining post-war Germany through the experiences of a woman (Hanna Schygulla).

The programme continues with Effi Briest (January 15th), Veronika Voss (January 22nd) and Satan's Brew (January 29th). There will also be several screenings for Ballina secondary- school students of Fassbinder's quietly powerful Fear Eats the Soul, in which a Berber immigrant becomes involved with an older woman. The season has been organised in association with the Goethe-Institut. www.ballinaartscentre.com

Call for volunteers

The organisers of the 6th Jameson Dublin International Film Festival need volunteers to work on the event, which runs from February 15th to 24th. Places are available for volunteers in administration and production, hospitality, transportation and venues. Applicants, who must be 18 years or older, may download the volunteer form online at www.dubliniff.com or contact volunteers@dubliniff.com. The closing date is January 23rd.

Dane does Sundance

Hamlet 2, a late addition to this month's Sundance festival, is not a sequel but a contemporary comedy directed by Andrew Fleming and starring Steve Coogan as a high-school drama teacher who devises a musical sequel to the much-filmed play. The cast includes Catherine Keener, David Arquette and Elisabeth Shue. Sundance director Geoffrey Gilmore describes it as "a clever comedy" that is "very funny".