Taking place from February 16-26, the Audi Dublin International Film Festival is nearly upon us, and we’re spending an unhealthy amount of time poring over the incredible programme.
This year’s schedule features a rich mix of new films from across the world, accompanied by top international and Irish guests, including Vanessa Redgrave, Kerry Fox, Ben Wheatley, Cillian Murphy and Aiden Gillen, amongst many others.
As is fitting for a festival that celebrates international cinema, the World Cinema Programme features a stunning array of feature films from over 35 countries, including vital new efforts from established auteurs, Olivier Assayas, Michael Winterbottom, Aki Kaurismäki, Lone Scherfig and Terence Davies among them.
The festival will, of course, also feature a whole host of films showcasing the talents of Irish actors and directors. One highlight will be the premiere of six-time Oscar nominated writer-director Jim Sheridan’s The Secret Scripture, a feature film adaptation of Sebastian Barry’s Man Booker Prize-winning novel. Star Eric Bana will be attending the premiere on February 18 at the Savoy Cinema. The film tells the story of Rose, a woman who has documented her stay at a mental hospital in her personal diary. The film version will star Bana along with Vanessa Redgrave, Jack Reynor and Susan Lynch, who will also be appearing at the festival along with director Jim Sheridan. Vanessa Redgrave will also be honoured with the Volta Lifetime Achievement Award for her outstanding contributions to the film industry.
Regarding Bana's upcoming appearance at the festival, Gráinne Humphreys, Festival Director, said, "The Gala Irish Premiere screening of The Secret Scripture at the Audi Dublin International Film Festival with Jim Sheridan and Vanessa Redgrave in attendance was already a landmark event for Irish film in 2017. But to have Eric Bana jetting in for the Gala brings another dimension of glamour and significance. I’m delighted to welcome him back to Ireland for the festival." Vanessa Redgrave, who will be honoured with the Volta Lifetime Achievement Award.
It has also been announced that following the tragic death of actor Sir John Hurt this past January, there will be a tribute screening of his film Snowpiercer on February 24 also at the Savoy. The brilliant post-apocalyptic thriller has never before been screened here in Ireland. Hurt received widespread critical acclaim for his work on the film in the role of Gilliam. Humphrey's also spoke of Hurt's remarkable influence on the film industry, saying "He was one of the most important acting talents of the last 50 years and he had a strong and special relationship with Ireland, where for many years he made his home. He will be very much missed. A donation from the screening will be made to a charity of the Hurt family’s choice."
The choice to screen Snowpiercer rather than any of Hurt's other classic films was one that Hurt himself would have supported, according to statements from his family. Hurt's widow, Anwen Hurt, said, "I cannot imagine a better tribute, nor one that would please John more, than Snowpiercer, a film of which he was immensely proud and that he championed so passionately."
Elsewhere, Irish stars Jack Reynor and Cillian Murphy will attend the Audi Gala screening of Ben Wheatley’s new film, Free Fire. This hilarious action film is about a gun deal gone horribly wrong, and co-stars Brie Larson and Armie Hammer.
Another homegrown talent to look out for is director Ken Wardrop. Renowned for beautifully tender films such as His & Hers and Mom & Me, ADIFF will screen Wardrop’s new documentary, The Piano Lesson. This films charts the musical journey of numerous piano students as they prepare for their grade exams, and explores the power of music, learning and creativity. Meanwhile, acclaimed Irish actor Aiden Gillen stars in Pick-Ups, as a man suffering through insomnia, blackouts and the breakdown of his marriage. The stress of having to murder people for money isn’t helping either...
Rounding up the festival at ADIFF’s prestigious Closing Night Gala is the Irish premiere of Handsome Devil, John Butler’s new comedy-drama set in an Irish boarding school.
If you’re finding it hard to decide what films to see, why not take some recommendations from the Oscar Academy? The ADIFF program is filled with Oscar-nominated films, which have been raking in awards and critical acclaim worldwide. The Salesman and Tanna both received nominations for Best Foreign Language Film, while The Red Turtle and My Life As A Courgette are up for Best Animated Feature. However, our must-see pick is Best Documentary nominee I Am Not Your Negro, Raoul Peck’s powerful examination of racial tensions in America. The film is based on the unfinished manuscript Remember this House by American author and poet James Baldwin. With only the thirty pages of the manuscript that Baldwin left behind at the time of his death, Peck takes Baldwin's words and archival footage documenting the history of racism in America and creates a whole new kind of documentary.
Other films to watch for at the festival are Juanita Wilson’s Tomato Red, based on the novel by Daniel Woodrell (Winter's Bone), the thriller film Hounds of Love by first-time Australian director Ben Young, and Juho Kuosmanen's boxing film The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki, which has even sparked Oscar rumours.
For those of you who are aspiring filmmakers yourselves, there will also be public interviews and even classes. There will be a live interview with Terence Davies and a masterclass from Oscar-winning costume designer Alexandra Byrne, and one from Free Fire director Ben Wheatley.
On the other hand, if you prefer to embrace mystery and live life on the edge, book a ticket to the festival’s Secret Film! This year, the screening is sponsored by Just Eat, who will be providing special discounts and vouchers for audience members. Previous picks for the surprise screening include The Squid And The Whale, The Jacket, 300, The Escapist and Muppets Most Wanted. We defy you decipher the formula that resulted in that selection!For full details on the Audi Dublin Film Festival Programme, see diff.ie