Welcome from the Festival Director

Welcome to the 2nd Jameson Dublin International Film Festival. When we were launching the inaugural event last year, my predilection for movie references invariably surfaced, as tends to happen, when I cited the key line from a personal favourite, Field of Dreams: “If you build it, they will come.”
Well, we built the new festival, and the people came in their thousands. It was a hugely encouraging response to an event designed primarily for the people of Dublin, and for all those cinemagoers – from all parts of Ireland or abroad – with the time and the inclination to immerse themselves in it.

It has become a cliché in the arts world to describe every edition of a festival as being bigger and better than ever. However, JDIFF II is, I firmly believe, one of those rare sequels that exceeds the achievements of its predecessor. It certainly is bigger – extended from eight to eleven days, spanning two weekends, with a proportionate increase in the number of movies on the schedule. The international scope of the programme has broadened significantly, and, I hope you will agree, the quality threshold has been raised.

Some things haven’t changed. The festival continues to be a non-competitive event, and free of such irrelevant trappings as formal dress and “VIP areas’’. It remains dedicated to catering for the most dedicated film enthusiasts, and for the more casual cinemagoer who is content to dip in and out of the festival, bringing them all together in the stimulating environment a festival offers over the course of eleven hectic days and nights.
Nor has the driving philosophy of the festival changed. That is to transcend the experience that is just another day or night out at the movies. The key to this is for us to bring as many filmmakers and actors as we can attract to the event, to introduce their screenings and to participate in lively post-screening discussion with the audience.

Among the many guests who participated in our inaugural festival last March were actors Colin Farrell, Laura Linney, Javier Bardem, Michael Sheen, Kerry Fox, Andrew Scott, Kelly Reilly and Sarah and Emma Bolger, and directors Jim Sheridan, Alan Parker, Damien O’Donnell, Rebecca Miller, Claire Denis, Michael Winterbottom, Gillies MacKinnon, Eoin Moore, Robert Quinn, Liz Gill, Marion Comer, Fernando Leon de Aranoa, and Fridrik Thor Fridriksson. I trust that we will field a guest list at least as interesting this year.

The ambition of JDIFF II is to bring the cream of world cinema to Dublin, and this year we will be screening at all four city centre cinema complexes. The core of the programme is an exciting and diverse selection of films from all over the world, among them a number of truly special special events.
There is The Irish Connection, a strand that brings together eleven new movies made in Ireland or by Irish producers and directors working abroad in the increasingly international world of filmmaking. The festival opens and closes on world premieres of new Irish films – Alan Gilsenan’s Timbuktu, filmed mostly in Morroco, and Lance Daly’s The Halo Effect, shot a few hundred yards away from the Savoy, where it will have its first public screening.

Another special event, to mark the Irish Presidency of the European Union, is Welcome to Europe, a showcase of work produced by directors from the accession countries to the EU. The subject of our retrospective programme is the gifted Spanish director, Julio Medem, and we are screening all six of his feature films to date. Italian cinema is celebrated in a season that has at its centre one of the most exhilarating cinematic experiences of recent years, Marco Tullio Giordana’s The Best of Youth, a marvellous, unmissable epic that runs for over six hours.

The festival would have been quite impossible to stage without our sponsors, principally Jameson Irish Whisky, a rock of support once again. I applaud all the film distributors, producers and sales agents who have affirmed their faith in our festival by providing a splendid selection of movies, and the owners, management and staff of our various venues, who will have a much busier and more demanding work schedule because of all we are inflicting upon them.
I offer my boundless gratitude to the festival’s apparently tireless staff led by Rory Concannon, and in particular to Anne Rice, an assiduous perfectionist who has excelled herself this year in the vital area of programme co-ordination in all its many elements.

Special thanks are due to Martin Mahon, who diligently compiled the programme notes and served as a valuable sounding board for all my programming ideas, however wild and crazy; and most of all, to Brian Jennings for his admirable patience and essential encouragement while I worked it all out.

This festival, once again, has been a labour of love. I hope you love it.

Michael Dwyer,
Festival Director.
Jameson Dublin International Film Festival