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05 Jan 2010 |


Michael Dwyer
Tributes are pouring in from the Irish cinema and arts industry following the death of film critic and cinema promoter, Michael Dwyer, on Friday, January 1st. He was 58.

Mr. Dwyer served as the film correspondent for the Irish Times for over 20 years. He was previously the film critic for several other publications including the Sunday Tribune, the Sunday Press and the In Dublin magazine. An established and admired cinematic advocate and commentator, Mr. Dwyer was also a driving force behind the promotion of Irish and international cinema. He became involved with the Film Society in his native town of Tralee, Co. Kerry in the early 1970s and went on then to establish and direct the Federation of Irish Film Societies where he organised the screenings of arthouse films across the country.

Following on from this Mr. Dwyer co-founded the Dublin Film Festival in 1985, an event he was to manage and programme for years before stepping down in the mid 1990s. The festival ultimately ran into financial difficulties which lead to Mr. Dwyer becoming active in the founding of its replacement, the Dublin International Film Festival in 2002. He was also a member of the board for the Irish Museum of Modern Art until very recently.

Today’s Irish Times features accolades from Mr. Dwyer’s peers and Irish cinema heavyweights such as Daniel Day Lewis, who says of the critic “He was a compassionate and empathetic writer. His criticism was not cruel or self-serving, but always honest, fair-minded, and guided by his essential love of the form itself.”

Actors Cillian Murphy and Jonathan Rhys Meyers speak of Mr. Dwyer’s support in the early days of their respective careers and Brendan Gleeson calls Mr. Dwyer “one of Irish film’s great friends – insightful lucid, always positive.” Gabriel Byrne paints a powerful image with the words “Perceptive and objective, magnanimous and uncynical.”

Irish directors Neil Jordan and Jim Sheridan also make contributions with the former simply stating that Dwyer was “the most delightful man imaginable. He was almost too kind at times.” And Sheridan highlighting Mr. Dwyer’s talent in his field by heralding him as the first to recognise ‘My Left Foot’ and finishing by saying “he didn’t have two sides to him.”

The Irish Times’ Hugh Linehan, in the same article, describes his former colleague as “a lover of life and of movies.” and continues to describe him as “the most influential Irish film critic of his generation”. Mr. Linehan also makes reference to the Chevalier des Arts et Lettres accolade that was bestowed on Mr. Dwyer in 2006 by the French government in recognition of Mr. Dwyer’s dedication to Irish and International film.

Aine Moriarty, CEO of the Irish Film & Television Academy, said, "Michael Dwyer was a true great friend of the film community in Ireland. His genuine love of the art form meant that his reviews and critiques were always honest and balanced, mixed with his innate ability to remain kind in his delivery. As a result Michael was highly respected by his readers and craftspeople/filmmakers alike and became Ireland’s most influential Irish film critic. He will be greatly missed by the film community and everyone who had the pleasure of knowing this wonderful man”.

Also paying tribute to Mr. Dwyer’s life and works was Martin Cullen TD, Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism who stated:

“I am saddened to hear of the passing of Michael Dwyer. The film sector and the media have lost a passionate, dedicated enthusiast who for more than three decades has been the most singular, significant influence on cinema in Ireland.”

The minister continued, saying “Michael Dwyer was passionate about film as an art form and his commentary whether on the printed page or on radio or television had a wonderful combination of knowledge and instinct. His authoritative journalism was essential reading for anyone interested in Irish and world film. He was committed to his craft, to the promotion of film and filmmaking in this country and was also known for the great impression that he gave of Ireland abroad, while interviewing many screen stars.”

And concluded by stating “The film community in Ireland and abroad will miss this distinguished, knowledgeable and popular journalist. I extend my sincere sympathy to his partner Brian, mother Mary, sisters Anne and Maria at this sad time. May he rest in peace.”

Mr. Dwyer died as a result of an illness which was diagnosed after the Cannes Film Festival last summer. Following a period of respite he returned to the Irish Times and described a glad return trip to world of cinema, writing “as the audience filed in all around us, I felt a deep sense of belonging and a surge of pleasure to be in a cinema after all those months, to be back where I belonged.”

The film critic’s funeral will take place tomorrow, Tuesday, January 5th at 11am in the Church of the Holy Name, Beechwood Avenue, Ranelagh, and will then move to the Mount Jerome Crematorium.

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