Mercier's 'Studs' kicks off film festival


Nearly 20 years after it first played at Dublin's SFX Theatre, Studs, Paul Mercier's much-loved play following the adventures of an amateur football team, has finally made it to the big screen.

Last night, the film version, directed by Mercier himself and starring Brendan Gleeson, Eamonn Owens and Eanna Mac Liam, was greeted with rapturous enthusiasm when it opened the fourth Jameson Dublin International Film Festival at a packed Savoy Cinema.

The film's producer, Fiach Mac Conghail, moonlighting from his day job as director of the Abbey Theatre, joined a huge throng of actors and crew members on stage to receive the applause of an audience that included writer Gerry Stembridge and musician Neil Hannon.

Later on, at John M Keating's bar on Mary Street, where the opening-night party continued to the small hours, Mac Conghail expressed himself delighted that the film had finally made its way through a projector. "It's been seven years in the making, but there was no doubt in my mind that, once we got financiers to understand the beauty of football, Studs would be completed," he told The Irish Times. "It is a triumph for the cast and crew, particularly for Brendan Gleeson and Paul Mercier."

Michael Dwyer, the festival director and this newspaper's film correspondent, happily explained that advance ticket sales for the festival were ahead of those at the same point last year and that more special guests were expected than had attended the event's first three years combined.

Among those arriving to meet filmgoers will be Julie Walters, John Hurt and Ralph Fiennes.

The festival, which includes over 100 films, ends on February 26th with a screening of Rebecca Miller's The Ballad of Jack and Rose, after which Miller and her husband, Daniel Day-Lewis, the picture's star, will participate in a public interview.