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DIFF 2023: Emily Watson to receive Volta Award as full programme unveiled
07 Feb 2023 : News Desk
Dublin International Film Festival.
The Dublin International Film Festival returns to the capital, from February 23rd to March 4th, to celebrate its 21st year with a packed programme launched today by Festival Director Gráinne Humphreys.

The Festival will welcome a host of onscreen talents including Emily Watson, Paul Mescal, Jane Seymour, Aidan Gillen alongside filmmakers and creatives Jim Sheridan, Artavazd Peleshyan, and Robbie Ryan. 

Oscar nominee and star of God’s Creatures’ Emily Watson will receive this year’s Volta award.

Following the international success of 2022’s Oscar nominated opening Irish film An Cailín Ciúin, the Festival previously revealed this year’s opening film as Irish feature God’s Creatures. The Festival will welcome Volta recipient Emily Watson and newly nominated Oscar contender Paul Mescal to Dublin for the Gala Screening.

The life and work of the iconic Jane Seymour will also be celebrated, with an in conversation hosted by Rick O’Shea. Other highly anticipated events include The Lord Mayor’s Gala presentation of Robert Connolly’s striking coming-of-age tale Blueback and Daniel Goldhaber’s Toronto Film Festival smash How to Blow Up A Pipeline as well as special events including the Artavazd Peleshyan season, Neil Brand’s live accompaniment to Steamboat Bill Jr, a special screening of the classic Cool Hand Luke followed by a post screening discussion with Lenny Abrahamson, not to forget the Festival favourite, The Surprise Film!

An exhilarating and robust slate of new Irish films is also promised, with the world premieres of Fintan Connelly’s film noir Barber, starring Aidan Gillen; and former DIFF Audience Award Winner Claire Dix’s Sunlight, starring Barry Ward and Liam Carney;  returning to the Festival, John Connors’ will present his feature debut, The Black Guelph; Finnish director Klaus Härö will present his breath-taking English language debut, My Sailor, My Love, set on Achill Ireland, and Ciaran Creagh will screen Ann, based on the last day of Ann Lovett. As well as, Andrew Legge’s WW2-set sci-fi feature drama Lola.

Always a highlight of the festival, the Irish documentary season offers an unrivalled insight into Ireland both past and present, from the political to the personal. The Festival Closing Gala is Fergus Dowd and Joe Lee’s incisive and illuminating 406 Days. Telling of the heartbreak, courage, and rage of the workers involved in the 2020 Debenhams picket, Ireland’s longest running industrial dispute, this unmissable film delves into the real lives behind the headlines. 

Sinead O’Shea’s exploration of the ordinary people of Navan who stood up to the Catholic Church, Pray for our Sinners, and Margo Harkin’s insightful look at the Mother and Baby Home scandal, Stolen, both explore Ireland’s relationship with the Catholic Church. Emigration is explored in Dennis Harvey’s personal film I Must Away and Joe Lawlor and Christine Molloy’s examination of the space between Ireland and England The Future Tense.

Meanwhile, some of Ireland’s most exciting filmmakers cast their lens to stories of interesting Irish lives, from Teresa Lavina’s touching and colourful account of Traveller life, Mincéir; to Cara Holmes’ Notes From Sheepland about artist and sheep farmer Orla Barry; the community who live in the darkest place in Ireland in Field’s of DarknessAccidental Anthropologist featuring real footage of Cork and Kerry in from the 1920s; and Jim Sheridan’s biography of screen icon Peter O’Toole: Along the Sky Road to Aqaba

This year DIFF will present a series of cinematic essays on filmmaking and history: Mark Cousins returns to the festival with The March on Rome about the rise of Fascism in Italy; Nina Menkes’ Brainwashed: Sex-Camera-Power explores the male gaze; Ciné-Guerillas explores filmmaking and propaganda; Patrico Guzmán’s My Imaginary Country is testament to the power of protest; and Desperate Souls, Dark City and the Legend of Midnight Cowboy explores male friendship depicted in the eponymous classic. 

Spain has a rich film culture and a wealth of talent when it comes to directors, actors and screenwriters, which will be reflected in the Spanish Spotlight of contemporary and classic films. "There is incredible diversity and strength in contemporary Spanish cinema which we are delighted to showcase in this years programme: from the excitement of Prison 77, to the anger and passion of On the Fringe; whilst The Beasts is quite simply stunning, one of the films of the year,” said Festival Director Gráinne Humphreys. “Based on a recommendation from the Ambassador of Spain to Ireland, Mr. Ion de la Riva, I tracked down the 4k restoration of the cult film Arrebato (Rapture) the 1979 horror film written and directed by Iván Zulueta, which has been described as ‘an absolute modern classic’ by Pedro Almodóvar himself. Don’t miss this opportunity to see it on the big screen."

Offering wonderful opportunities to listen to filmmakers from across the world, the Festival’s European and World Cinema seasons have an unequalled selection of screenings with Q&As. One of Germany’s most prolific filmmaker Dorris Dörrie will be in Dublin with her new comedy The Pool; Maureen Kearney will attend the screening of La Syndicaliste, in which Isabelle Huppert plays the story of her life as a whistleblower; Matt Johnson will attend the screening of his film BlackBerry, which tells the rise and fall of this iconic piece of tech; Pierre Földes will attend the screening of his animated adaptation of the short stories of Haruki Murakami, Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman; and the unique opportunity to hear from the directors of fascinating documentaries Kanaval: A People’s History of Haiti in Six Chapters and Hamlet Syndrome that was filmed at the outbreak of the war in Ukraine; as well as post screening discussions with Sophie Linnenbaum (The Ordinaries) and Sonia Terrab (Shakespeare in Casablanca). 

Other highlights of the European and World cinema programmes include the lavish Chevalier; new American Western Butcher’s Crossing, which features Nicholas Cage as a cowboy; Cannes Grand Prix winner Close; Mia Hansen-Løve’s Cannes’ Best European Film winning One Fine Morning; Alice Winocour’s Paris Memories, Christian Mungiu’s celebrated R.M.N.; Carmen Jaquier’s Foudre; Screen Star of Tomorrow 2021Thomas Hardiman’s one-shot hairdressing murder mystery Medusa Deluxe; surrealist French comedy Smoking Causes Coughing; First Feature winner at the BFI London Film Festival, 1976; and the intriguing Bread and Salt and The Damned Don’t Cry, which both feature non-professional actors.

Additional international gems include Polish/Ukrainian road movie Tata; Finnish action movie, Sisu; Norwegian comedy Sick of Myself; Italian historical drama The Girl From Tomorrow; Japanese sci-fi Plan 75; South Korean comedy New Normal; French fantasy-drama The Five Devils; Italian language literary adaptation The Eight Mountains; Czech social drama Victim; or the evocative migrant story depicted in Mother and Son.

Film lovers across Ireland and internationally have the opportunity to see select programme highlights digitally and in person around the country. A selection of features and shorts will be available online that will have screened in cinemas in the festival as well as online only exclusives including interviews with best-selling authors Neil Gaiman and Leïla Slimani. As part of  this year’s outreach programme, in partnership with access>CINEMA and supported by the Arts Council, Sophie Linnenbaum’s debut, the idiosyncratic German tragicomedy The Ordinaries, travels to 8 venues nationwide, while First Frame Film Student Day in association with Warner Bros. Studio’s 100th anniversary will showcase two programmes of short films submitted by students in TUS Limerick and The Light House Cinema, Dublin.

In celebration of DIFF’s 21st birthday the Festival will bring film into communities with two new initiatives Dublin on Screen and DIFF & Beyond. Dublin on Screen will present a range of shorts by older, established, and younger filmmakers showcasing Dublin including a new short film from Damien O’Donnell (East is East) and the short film Heart of Dublin devised, shot and performed by an enthusiastic cohort of older people in the Screen8 outreach project working with The Digital Hub filmmaker in residence Laura O’ Shea.

In DIFF & Beyond, the Festival celebrates its commitment to the film culture of Dublin bringing the programme and a series of public events to new audiences with five partner venues across the city: a first time initiative of DIFF, the Young Programmers team from Sphere17 have curated a programme of their own to be screened in Kilbarrack and Bonnybrook; The Circular, Rialto will feature screenings of Desperate Souls, Dark City & The Legend of the Midnight Cowboy;  a selection of Glasgow International Film Festival’s best Shorts can be seen at TU Grangegorman whilst UCD Film Society with DIFF present Evgine Afuneevsky’s eye-opening documentary Freedom on Fire-Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom with the director in attendance.

The Festival receives continued support from chief funder, the Arts Council and welcomes new partner 5 Lamps as official Beer Partner and is delighted to showcase for its third year VM Discovers in partnership with Virgin Media and Screen Ireland.

Click here for more information about Dublin International Film Festival.





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