Message movies

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The 57th International Venice Film Festival closed last weekend with the main prizes going to films with strong social and political messages. The top award, the Golden Lion, was given to Iranian director, Jafar Panahi's The Circle, a hard-hitting denunciation of the plight of female prisoners in Iran, which has been banned in that country.

The other major prize-winner was Julian Schnabel's Before Night Falls, which won the Special Jury Prize and the Best Actor Award for Spanish star Javier Bardem, who plays gay, Cuban novelist Reinaldo Arena, who fled to the US because of persecution in his native country.

The Marcello Mastroianni Prize for best young actor was presented by Rod Steiger to 13-year-old British actress, Megan Burns, for her performance in Stephen Frears's Liam, the story of an impoverished Irish-Catholic family in 1930s Liverpool, which, like many other Venice titles, is also showing at the Toronto Film Festival this week.

BUILDING on 10 years' experience with the Cinemagic International Film Festival for Young People, this year's Cinemagic 2000 conference, running for 10 days from November 30th, in Belfast and around Northern Ireland, aims to reflect the convergence of film, television, music, computer games and the Internet through computer technology. Along with the usual screenings of films from around the world, workshops and masterclasses, What's the Story, a conference examining the impact of new media on children, will take place over the opening weekend, with keynote speaker Roy E. Disney. Arena 21, at the BBC studios on Great Victoria Street, is an interactive fair for young people, showing previews of new and upcoming technologies and showcasing the cream of young multimedia talent in Ireland. For further information, check out the website at www.cinemagic.org.uk

ESB Dublin Jazz Week, which starts on Monday (see Weekend 13), includes a film component in its schedule again this year, with three screenings at the Irish Film Centre. Films include (on Friday) Roko Belic's Genghis Blues, which chronicles the journey of blind blues legend Paul Pena as he travels to Central Asia to discover the music of the Tuva region. There's another chance to catch Wim Wenders's wildly popular Buena Vista Social Club next Saturday and, on Sunday, More Than You Know, Don McGlynn's resonant portrait of the great tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon, is showing with Improvised Music on a Summer's Day, Cormac Larkin's record of the OpenJazz 2000 day held last May in Dublin. For further information, contact the Festival information and box office at 01-6725666.

Spectacular it may be, with its eight-storey screen and state-of-the-art sound system, but the problem for the Sheridan IMAX Cinema has been finding the sort of films which will encourage return business to its premises on Parnell Street in Dublin. Now the cinema has announced a change in programming policy, moving away from the traditional documentary and wildlife subjects to target the lucrative family cinema market with a series of animated films. The first example of the new strategy will be seen on October 27th, with the opening of CyberWorld 3D, a compilation of computer-animated segments featuring familiar characters from The Simpsons and ANTZ, along with new characters. CyberWorld 3D will be followed late next year by Shrek, Dreamworks SKG's first foray into the animated 3D format, while a version of Gulliver's Travels is set for release in 2002.

Following the success of the Steve McQueen Weekend at the IFC in June, which marked the 20th anniversary of the death of the actor, the event is going on a countrywide tour this week. "Steve McQueen - The Man and His Life" begins tomorrow night at the Town Hall Theatre in Galway with a documentary on McQueen (narrated by Kevin Spacey) followed by screenings of The Thomas Crown Affair and Bullitt, with an after-show party at the Bluenote where fans can compare their respective impassive coolness. The show moves on to the Kino Cinema in Cork next Saturday, and will visit the Queen's Film Theatre, Belfast in October. Three different charities - Concern, the Omagh Relief Fund and the Junior Boys Republic (a reform school which McQueen attended in California). For information on the Galway event, contact the Town Hall Theatre, 091-569777. For Cork, contact the Kino, 021-4271571

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