Jameson Film Festival continues to be a spectacle

Since it was established eight years ago, the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival has gone from strength to strength.

The festival, which took place from 18 to 28 February this year, has been the best yet – with a host of stars and an excellent array of both national and international films.

It began with the premiere of Ondine, the new feature from director Neil Jordan, starring Colin Farrell. Both Jordan and Farrell were present at the premiere, much to the delight of the waiting crowds.

Ondine is the story of an Irish fisherman (Farrell) who discovers a woman (Farrell’s real life partner, Alicja Bachleda-Curus) in his fishing net who he believes to be a mermaid.

Amongst the Irish films showcased at the event was IFTA winner Savage, an uncompromising portrayal about the violent underbelly of city life in Ireland that has been compared to Taxi Driver.

There was also a screening of the critically acclaimed His and Hers, which has been picking up awards at every festival that it has been to – including the Audience Award at JDIFF.

Inspired by his mother’s life story, Ken Wardrop’s film depicts the life of a woman from the Irish Midlands. Using around seventy women to portray the journey from birth to old age, the lives of these women and their relationships with the men in their lives are told in a deceptively simple and poignant film.
Meeting Room, a documentary about the Concerned Parents Against Drugs movement in the early eighties in Dublin, both engages and enrages in equal measure.

Set up in 1982 to combat the heroin problem in the city, the film has interviews with the movement’s key members and covers its controversial history, including its strained relationship with An Garda Síochána, the courts and the Irish media.

Some of the most popular tickets at the festival were for sneak peek screenings for some of the biggest films due out in the coming months.
Martin Scorsese’s newest offering, Shutter Island, has received mixed reviews since it was released in the US, but Irish audiences were given a chance to make up their own minds before its general release on March 12.

Set in the 1950s, the film stars Leonardo DiCaprio – this is his fourth collaboration with Scorsese – and Mark Ruffalo as a pair of U.S. Marshalls investigating a mysterious disappearance in a remote insane asylum on an island off Massachusetts.

Another film that shows a long-term actor and director partnership is Tim Burton’s new adaption of Alice in Wonderland. The film stars Johnny Depp, in his eighth Burton film, as the Mad Hatter, with Burton’s real life partner, Helena Bonham Carter, as the tyrannical Red Queen.

One of the hottest tickets at the festival was for Gasper Noe’s Enter the Void. The film is a ‘psychedelic melodrama’, which explores life and death as well as everything in between, all from the point of view of Oscar, a drug dealer in Tokyo. It is hard to describe, and even harder to forget!

There was also emphasis on Russian and Korean film in particular, with some truly inspiring and thought-provoking films, such as Hansel and Gretel, a Grimm fairy tale for adults from South Korea, and the multi award winning Mermaid, a look at adolescence in Russia that has been compared to Amelie – but is much more dark than its French counterpart.

There was also a tribute to the late Michael Dwyer, a co-founder of the Festival. There were a number of films dedicated to his memory, all of which were films that he championed at the Festival, including The Best of Youth (2003) and My Beautiful Laundrette (1985).

The Surprise Film, one of the biggest events at the Festival, was Ben Stiller’s newest film, Greenburg. It’s about a New Yorker who moves to Los Angeles in order to figure out his life while he house-sits for his brother.

There was a great gathering of celebrities at the festival. As well as Colin Farrell and Neil Jordan for the Ondine premiere, Kristin Scott Thomas was at the Festival for the premiere of her film, Partir, which was part of a celebration of her work to date.

She also was one of the recipients of this year’s Volta wards for her outstanding contribution to world cinema. The other two recipients were Patricia Clarkson and Ciaran Hinds, both of whom were at the Festival. Michael Sheen and Timothy Spall were at the Alice in Wonderland premiere.

Tilda Swinton was also at the Festival, for her films I Am Love, which was the Closing Gala film, and Orlando. She also gave a public interview at the Lighthouse Cinema in Smithfield on 28 February, which will be broadcast on RTÉ Radio 1’s Arts Tonight on March 29.

After such a great year, it is no surprise that so many people are looking forward to next year’s Festival. It will no doubt be as fantastic!

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