Last night saw the often grey cobblestones of Smithfield come alive with the eagerly anticipated launch of JDIFF. For the uninitiated, JDIFF is a film festival with a difference; as their manifesto so aptly puts it, 'you don't just watch films at JDIFF, you fall for them.' With an array of home produced gems, European delights, a few trips down memory lane and a whole host of international stars due to arrive, the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival is fast becoming one of the hottest cinematic events of the year, the world over. Introduced by the ever enthusiastic festival director, Grainne Humphreys, with support from two of Ireland's most promising actors Killian Scott and Kelly Campbell, after a quick scan of their 11th programme one thing's for sure; JDIFF 2013 is not to be missed.
At first glance, the programme can be overwhelming; choosing what to see when can prove a daunting task. However when you break it up into relevant categories - as the festival creators have done so kindly for us (it's colour coded too) - it's not so bad. What's more, having too many good things to choose from can only be a good thing. As we gear up for two weeks of filmic indulgence come February, we at entertainment.ie would like to recommend the following:
Of course the opening and closing Galas are a a treat to behold. Launching the festival is Broken (14th Feb) and for the Pulp Fiction fans among you, it's worth pointing out that Tim Roth will be in attendance for this one. Starring Roth, Eloise Laurence and our very own Cillian Murphy, Broken tells the story of Skunk (Laurence), an 11-year-old suffering with diabetes whose father (Roth) never ceases to worry about her and whose minder (Zana Marjanovic) struggles to focus due to issues with her teacher boyfriend Mike (Murphy). A coming of age story, Skunk finds herself witness to a violent incident which forces her to trade in the innocence of childhood for the harsh realities of the world in which she lives.
The festival will then close with Blood Rising (Feb 24th), a documentary that centres on the stories of the missing women of Mexican border city Juarez, otherwise known as 'the capital of murdered women'. Well known Irish artist Brian Maguire has worked in these parts for three years and here he brings the tragic stories of these families to a wider audience. Grainne Humphreys promises a powerful yet emotional experience. Blood Rising is helmed by Mark McLoughlin.
In the European Perspectives category, we're particularly excited about Cloud Atlas. Directed by the inimitable Wachowskis, Cloud Atlas is touted as an exploration of how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future. It certainly takes our concept of conventional story telling to another level, promising stellar performances from Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Jim Broadbent, Tom Hanks and Ben Wishaw.
Other honourable mentions among this category include Looking for Hortense starring Kristin Scott Thomas, Summer in February starring Dominic Cooper and Le Capital which stars our very own Gabriel Byrne (he'll be in attendance for that one too!). We also like the look of The Look of Love starring Steve Coogan, Anna Friel and Stephen Fry.
Then we arrive at the Irish Focus section of the festival. What's worth seeing here? Well, everything. We'll be headling along for a bit of history with A Terrbile Beauty ('a fresh approach to the Easter Rising') with director Keith Farrell in attendance. Then there's Broken Song, a documentary that asks whether art and artistic expression can allow us to look beyond the facts of someone's past and see into their soul. Centering on the lives of Git, Costello and Willa Lee, Broken Song opens our eyes up to the ways in which they deal with 'the chaos that surrounds them' - through poetry, rap and song. Also worth catching in this category is Sarah Bolger starrer The Moth Diaries - described here as 'a dissection of female adolescence' and 'an allegorical horror story in the Carrie vein' and Earthbound - a story starring Rafe Spall about a young man who thinks he's a space alien.
Last but by no means least, we'll be sure to catch the premiere of The Hardy Bucks Movie. Having first stole our hearts with their online series, before moving into the realm of national TV, there's little words you can say these days without adding in a 'h' for added coolness. E.g, Hardy Bucks 'shtyle', 'shmokin' and 'washte of time'; everything sounds better that way, wouldn't you agree? Then there are phrases now considered standard fixtures of the Irish vocab, like 'g'lad' for 'good lad' and *NSFW* we can also credit the Castletown lads with transforming the C word into a term of endearment. 'How's it goin' ya c****' etc. Exhibiting the best of the Irish sense of humour, on this road trip movie you can expect The Viper and the lads to get up to all kinds of shenanigans. 90 minutes of unadulterated fun. Mike Cockayne and cast will be in attendance.
Then we're on to the Spectrum category of films. Again, we're like kids in a candy store here. Whetting our cinematic apetite here are Everybody Has a Plan starring Viggo Mortensen, The Paperboy starring Zac Efron, Nicole Kidman and Matthew McConaughey, The Place Beyond the Pines starring Ryan Gosling (and directed by Derek Cianfrance) and Bradley Cooper and Side Effects starring Rooney Mara and Channing Tatum. In fact looking at this section, with everything from Bernie starring Jack Black to A Late Quartet with Philip Seymour Hoffman and Christopher Walken, there isn't a single movie we wouldn't want to see. If you've got enough dosh to see you through the fortnight, see as much as you can!
In the Real to Reel section we've heard great things about Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God while The Pervert's Guide to Ideology has also piqued our interest. What's more, Love, Marilyn casts aside the media persona created by Marilyn Monroe and takes us closer to the bone of the woman behind the actress. With never-before-seen personal papers, diaries and letters, anyone with an interest in Marilyn Monroe ought to catch this.
And now we arrive at the Special Presentations section. Making many a Buffy fans' dream come true, Joss Whedon rocks into town for the screening of his modern adaptation of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. There's few filmmakers to have had an impact on youth culture as Whedon has and to have him as a guest at JDIFF further reinforces the significance of this festival. Danny DeVito is another big name for whom Dublin will play host come February. DeVito will be there not only for the special presentation of the Oscar winning LA Confidential but also for the screenings of his very own Throw Momma from the Train and The War of the Roses. What's more, he'll be presented with the Volta Award - an acknowledgement of those individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the world of cinema.
Also in attendance at this year's JDIFF is one of our favourite actors Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon). He'll be there for the screening of Robot and Frank, starring Susan Sarandon, James Marsden and Liv Tyler. Langella plays a retired burglar. Again, another promising feature.
Of course everything at JDIFF is worth a watch; this is a programme that's been carefully curated to cover all bases, with something in there for everyone. Will you make it to everything? Probably not, but hopefully you will find some of the above pleasing, giving you a taste for not only a superior calibre of filmmaking but also an idea of just how significant it is on these Irish shores.
We will have the full schedule of events live on our dedicated JDIFF page on Friday morning. Check back for regular updates.