feature: JDIFF 2012 highlights

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This year’s Jameson Dublin International Film Festival is going to be a little different for me. Usually I go along to the surprise film and a couple of other random films, usually Asian ones or any interesting looking documentaries that I think might not get a full cinema release.

This year however, I am on the jury for the Dublin Film Critics Circle Awards. Which means… well let’s just say I’m going to have to see a lot more than 3 or 4 of the films. It’s going to be a pretty movie filled few weeks for me.

Anyway, I haven’t seen them all yet so I figured now is the time to do my picks of what looks good in the festival, before I can possibly give anything away. I’m a little earlier than usual this year, last year I only got my picks up on the day the festival started. Phew.

The Jameson Dublin International Film Festival is running from 16th to 26th February 2012 and, as you may or may not know, this is actually JDIFF’s 10th Anniversary. It started back in 2003 with a week long programme of 66 screenings. Now in 2012, there are over 145 films, there’s a programme of short films, there’s workshops and there’s even a performance of the music of Danny Elfman in the National Concert Hall.

As usual JDIFF 2012 is split into a number of strands.

First Look brings us the Irish premieres of great films, some, months before they hit our multiplexes.
Discovery highlights films that the festival organisers feel are worthy of special attention, but may not get a general release in Ireland.
Real to Reel is their documentary strand, showcasing documentaries from all over the world.
Out of the Past bring us some of the classics of cinema, back on the big screen.
Spectrum – In lieu of the usual multiple country strands at JDIFF, Spectrum is covering a wide range of world cinema from French Canadian to South Korean.
German cinema is the one that JDIFF has chosen to highlight this year. The programme includes the Dreileben trio of films, in partnership with the Goethe-Institut.
Irish cinema is also presented in the form of a variety of new Irish films, documentaries and shorts.

In addition to those main strands there are also a selection of Other Presentations, Special Presentations and Gala events

There are of course, some obviously highlights to the festival – Al Pacino will be in attendence for the screening of his directorial effort, Wilde Salomé and Mark Wahlberg will be on hand to present his new film, Contraband. Also, if you’re looking for something truly unique in the festival, The Jameson Cult Film Club is back with a screening Reservoir Dogs in an secret location…

… but I wanted to pick some of the films you may not have heard about… So without further ado, here are my recommendations for JDIFF 2012.


Haxan: Witchcraft Through The AgesHäxan: Witchcraft Through The Ages
Saturday 18th Feb, 8.15pm, Light House – Sweden – Special Presentation

I’m highlighting this one because it sounds like quite the experience. How often do you see a silent film from 1922 up on the big screen? Much less a dramatized documentary recounting the stories and superstitions around witchcraft… More than that, Häxan was apparently a cinematic achievement in terms of it’s technical and cinematographical efforts.

To accompany the film there will be a live score from the Matti Bye Ensemble. Matti Bye is a Swedish composer and performer, renowned for his innovative scores for early Swedish silent era films.

Into The Abyss - Werner HerzogInto The Abyss
Tuesday 21st Feb, 5.50pm, Cineworld Dublin – USA – Real to Reel

There’s a Werner Herzog documentary in the festival. Of course I’m going to highlight this.

Into The Abyss is part of Werner Herzog’s latest investigation, project on Death row inmates. In addition to this documentary Herzog also produced a four episode TV mini-series which premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival at the start of February.

Over the years Werner Herzog has produced some absolutely outstanding documentaries. I have no doubt that this one will be another showcase of his ability to present his subjects in a uniquely absorbing manner.

Target (Mishen)Target (Mishen)
Wednesday 22nd Feb, 8.10pm, Light House – Russia – Spectrum

The JDIFF programme describes this as a “boldy conceived dystopian epic”. If you’ve read much of this site before you might have seen me say that dystopian/alternate future sci-fi is my favourite genre. I know that’s a bit specific but it’s true. I’ve been very disappointed by Hollywood efforts recently so I’m willing to see what Russia has to offer, even it is just over two and a half hours long.

Target is set in Russia in 2020… a group of wealthy Moscovites travel to an abandoned astrophysics complex, where rumour has it, someone has discovered the secret of eternal youth.

Could be terrible or it could be terrific! Who knows! But I know I want to find out.

Silent House, starring Elizabeth OlsonSilent House
Wednesday 22nd Feb, 8.30pm, Cineworld Dublin – USA – First Look

A little more mainstream than I would usually pick from the festival line-up but having just seen Elizabeth Olsen in Marth Marcy May Marlene, I think anything she’s in will be worth keeping an eye out for.

Silent House is a remake of the 2010 Uruguayan horror film The Silent House. It looks like a fairly normal home invasion flick however the hook here is that it is presented in real time, so you spend the 88 minutes with the characters as they happen. Elizabeth Olson proved herself with a tough role in Martha Marcy May Marlene, let’s hope she can pull off another great performance here. Because otherwise, it’s going to be awful.

Indonesian martial arts film, The RaidThe Raid
Saturday 25th Feb, 11am, Cineworld Dublin – Indonesian – First Look

There’s been a huge buzz around this Indonesian martial arts film ever since its premiere at last years Toronto International Film Festival, with some hailing it as one of the best action films in years.

Certainly the clips I’ve seen of it look like the director, Gareth Evans, and his star, Iko Uwais, have taken ass-kicking to a new level. The premise is simple, an elite team of… police (?) find themselves trapped in the headquarters of some of the most dangerous criminals in Jakarta. Now they have to accomplish their mission and find a way out.

What’s not to like?

Gareth Evans will be in attendance at this screening

Curling King, 2011 Norwegian filmCurling King (Kong Curling)
Saturday 25th Feb, 9pm, Cineworld Dublin – Norway – Spectrum

There’s a film about Curling in the festival. I feel I would be remiss if I didn’t let you know this.

Well actually, I think it’s less a film about curling and more a comedy set around curling. But that’s semantics. The main thing is, there’s going to be curling on the big screen. Beyond that I get the impression that this is very much an out and out spoof comedy in the vein of Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, but perhaps a little bit smarter.

Dreileben - Beats Being DeadDreileben
Sunday 26th Feb, 1pm to 6.30pm, Light House – Germany – German

This is kind of cheating because it’s three films… but hey, my site my rules. Three leading German film directors, Christian Petzold, Dominik Graf, Christoph Hochhäusler, have created three very different films with the same central story – a convicted murderer escapes from the small German town of Dreileben.

I love this idea. I’m not entirely au fait with what they have done but from the synopses I gather that the three films form the beginning, middle and end of the story of this escaped murder in Dreileben. All the stories are, however, told from different perspectives and shot in completely different film-making styles.

If you have most of Sunday 26th Feb off I’d say this set is well worth a look, if only for the novelty. If spending five and half hours in the cinema seems a little daunting, don’t worry! There will be intervals between the films where light refreshments will be served and you can all chat about what you’ve just seen.

The 10th annual Jameson Dublin International Film Festival runs from 16th – 26th February 2012

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