Monday, February 1, 2010

Dublin Film Festival

Looks like a strong programme for the Dublin Intl. Film Festival which kicks off on February 18 with Neil Jordan's Ondine. I've not seen the film yet but I've heard a bit of negative chatter about it since it was finished last year.

The chatter may just be a case of the devil making words for idle mouths. Or it may be expressing a perception that the film is not 'commercial', which wouldn't be the first time one heard that about a new Jordan film. Similar mutterings were heard before The Good Thief was widely seen, although in my opinion they underestimated the quality of the film.

Ondine received mixed reviews from Toronto where it had its world premiere in September but a distribution deal for North American has been sealed with Magnolia in recent weeks. It'll be interesting to see how they market it there and what the audience reaction is to it at home.

Trade publications have reported that Magnolia plan to put the film out on the VOD platform one month before the theatrical release in early Summer. Sounds like they are either hedging their bets or that they reckon the picture needs some positive advance word-of-mouth before it hits the big screen.

I look forward to seeing Ivan Kavanagh's The Fading Light and Mark O'Connor's Between the Canals both of which were made for little more than the IFB makes available for the Signature shorts scheme. That said, I think Between the Canals had started production before the IFB made its decision to fund the project in July 2009.

Two of the IFB's creative co-productions - Foxes and Nothing Personal - are being screened in the festival's Irish Cinema programme strand with the two titles mentioned above, alongside two films I saw in Galway last July - One Hundred Mornings and Savage.

I was disappointed by One Hundred Mornings but thought a lot of Savage, particularly (and this is not faint praise) its cinematography. Dublin has seldom been photographed so well.

I'm wondering why it is that the Irish-originated films, with the exception of Ondine, all seem to have been made on budgets of less than €200,000 from the IFB (this is also true of the documentaries His and Hers, Colony, et al), whereas many of the co-production projects originated elsewhere were better funded. For instance, Nothing Personal received €326,000 from the IFB. Incidentally, while I think of it, the festival programme should have included the Irish documentaries in the Irish cinema strand.

I suppose the simple answer to the funding question is that the films originated elsewhere have bigger budgets, and therefore attract more money. This may be true, but it follows that non-indigenous projects - including those not filmed in Ireland - frequently attract bigger sums from the IFB than locally developed and produced films.

A number of new Irish films seem notable by their absence from the programme - Perrier's Bounty, Seaside Stories, The Wake Wood, Five Day Shelter - as do several other co-productions backed by the IFB. Perhaps one of them will turn up as the surprise film.

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