One of the most notable events in the Irish film calendar has become the Dublin International Film Festival. It has been around in its current guise since around the turn of the millennium. I think my first one was about ’04 or ’05. It was a more innocent time. A world without Facebook, where the Screen Cinema still looked like it would go on forever and Marvel Comics slow rise up the All Time Box Office charts was only beginning to gather pace.
I don’t recall much else from those days, except that the volunteers were always very friendly, the official Festival t-shirts were a bit cooler, the wrap party was always a good laugh and, to my regret, I never went to as many movies as I should.
This year I returned after a few years away from the madness. I was delighted to see that so many of the loyal soldiers of yesteryear were still involved in some capacity. The continuity of staff is a good thing as it always makes things easier for the newbies coming along. It certainly helped things run very smoothly as far as I could see.
As a slightly more experienced ‘volly’ you become privy to the workings of the engine room along the way. The Festival itself runs for about two to three weeks now if you include the special kiddie events and other things. But even before that, a lot of time and effort goes into making all the pieces fall into place. The marketing, the publicity, transporting the print of the film, managing the guests, hospitality, the big panic to get the red carpet done quickly and of course making sure the green room has whatever it needs, be it gummi bears or cold lagers.
The choosing of the films to be screened is decided over the course of the year. Agreements are made with distributors to offer them a place in the Festival programme, with an eye not only on quality but also variety. America, Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Spain, Japan, Iran. Comedy, horror, animation. Oscar nominees, classics, all in.
Back in my earlier days, it might have been a bit of a struggle to see so much Irish representation but now it’s a much different story. I haven’t counted but I daresay Ireland has produced about 10-15% of 2017’s schedule…probably more actually.
This year I saw about 6 films in total. I do regret not seeing more but now that I’m living out in the boonies I guess I’m always thinking about getting back to the country air. Many of the festival staff would actually be quite jealous of my six, for it is they who suffer the most during the fortnight of screenings. It is little wonder then they find such solace in the bottom of a Five Lamps beer glass.
I really did enjoy this year, though. Perhaps even more than in previous incarnations. As a lapsed filmmaker it was nice to get out and watch a few films just for the sake of watching them, going in blind, being surprised. Always pleasantly.
It was good to see the festival has found itself a new bar to hang out in. The means of deciding this has never been easy, with some years more successful than others. But I think Wigwam definitely compares favourably to its predecessors. Plus it was dead handy for me getting my bus home.
So there you have it. Another year, another festival in the can. If I am around Ireland again next year, I’ll certainly volunteer again, if they’ll have me. If you are living in anywhere near Dublin City or even if you aren’t but can get a bus or train into town, I highly recommend you do it.
WHAT I SAW
The Red Turtle
The Secret Garden
To Live and Die in LA
WHAT I WISH I SAW
Best: All by Himself
Notes on Rave
& many many others