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Here are the top 10 international films to catch at the Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival

Highlights will include the Irish premieres of True History of the Kelly Gang and Hearts and Bones.

THE VIRGIN MEDIA Dublin International Film Festival (DIFF) returns to the capital this Wednesday. 

The major Irish film event, which runs from 26 February to 8 March, celebrates cinema in all its forms from all around the world. 

Here are our picks of the top international films this year: 

The Mystery of Henri Pick

Source: UniFrance/YouTube

What we know 

This Agatha Christie-style whodunnit follows a literary intellect who’s determined to uncover the truth when a manuscript, penned by a now-deceased pizzeria owner, is discovered in a remote library and becomes a hit in France. 

What the critics say 

  • “Luchini, who got his start with Eric Rohmer and is famous in France for his stage readings of Baudelaire, Hugo, Celine and other great authors, is excellent here as an arrogant erudite who may have been right about Pick all along, even if we’re sort of hoping otherwise.” – The Hollywood Reporter
  • “Playing on the comedic value of a police investigation improvised by a non-professional whose character displays a mix of intellectual snobbery and tactless obstinacy, the film offers Fabrice Luchini a golden role (who is brilliantly supported by the other main characters).” – CineEuropa 

When’s it on? 

29 February,2.30pm,  The Light House.

Hearts and Bones

Source: Movie Trailers Source/YouTube

What we know

A Sudanese refugee asks a war photographer not to exhibit photos of a massacre in his village years earlier – but while revisiting the terrible events of that day, they make an extraordinary discovery.

What the critics say

  • “Time spent in a modern war zone can be traumatic for participant and observer alike, yet across continents and cultures, the shared experiences of living and loving in the wake of such experiences can be startlingly similar. This is multi-faceted and overarching theme woven throughout Ben Lawrence’s sensitive and affecting new Australian drama.” – Variety
  • “The director’s handsome debut feature, which premiered at the Sydney Film Festival, flirts with becoming a savage indictment of affluent do-gooderism, but finally swerves to land on a vision of fraternity that’s altogether more optimistic.” – The Hollywood Reporter 

When’s it on? 

29 February, 8pm, Cineworld. 


Source: Rapid Trailer/YouTube

What we know

Director Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis) explores the story of Marie Curie and her discoveries. Stars Rosamund Pike in the main role.

What the critics say

  • “This is a film that forces Curie to make hilariously foreboding statements about the possibility of her advances in radiation being co-opted for unsavory ends, then flashes forward to the atomic bomb melting the happy citizens of Hiroshima to make sure everyone gets the point.”- The Guardian 
  • “Acting in her mid-Atlantic English, Pike creates an admirable if flawed character whose graceful womanhood battles with her fears of being exploited or bypassed for her gender.” - The Hollywood Reporter 

When’s it on? 

1 March, 7.45pm, The Light House.

True History of the Kelly Gang

Source: FilmSelect Trailer/YouTube

What we know

This British-Australian western is based on the infamous Ned Kelly and Kelly and his gang who are trying to flee from the law. Stars George McKay (1917).

What the critics say

  • “Kurzel’s movie draws on the traditional view of Kelly as the Jesse James or Che Guevara of Australia, but subverts the legend by presenting a vivid context of dysfunction and abuse in Kelly’s upbringing: a tragically toxic masculinity and toxic maternity.” – The Guardian 
  • “Adapted from Peter Carey’s Man Booker-winning 2000 novel, Kurzel’s roughhousing, ripely acted interpretation does full justice to the book’s rugged dirt-poetry vernacular and rich biographical particulars, while staging Kelly’s criminal rise and fall as a vision all its own: a wildly gyrating sensory assault of blood, velvet and strobe lights.” - Variety

When’s it on?

3 March, 8.10pm, The Light House.

Initials SG

Source: La Cosa Cine/YouTube

What we know

The winner of Tribeca’s Nora Ephron Award revolves around a Serge Gainsbourg cover singer and is set against Argentina’s quest to win the World Cup. 

When’s it on? 

4 March, 8pm, The Light House.


Source: Awards Circuit/YouTube

What we know

A documentary about the iconic and groundbreaking singer Billie Holiday, from the producers of Man on Wire and Maiden. 

What the critics say

  • “Billie passes the test for any doomed-singer documentary: There’s a creditable emphasis on the gift, not just the grubbiness.” – Variety

When’s it on? 

7 March, 6pm, The Light House.

The Hottest August 

Source: Grasshopper Film/YouTube

What we know

The documentary focuses on ordinary people in New York over a one-month period who discuss their lives in the face of climate change and political uncertainty.  

What the critics say

  • “Most climate change documentaries approach the issue from a place of hysteria, overwhelming audiences with statistics and doom-and-gloom scenarios, whereas Brett Story attempts to reframe the subject from a different perspective.” – Variety
  • “This documentary, for all of its considerable discrete moments and insights, is most fascinating because of its vivid demonstration of how the future is never really as we expect it to be.” – The New York Times 

When’s it on?

6 March, 4pm, The Light House.

Spring Tide 

Source: Filmlance International AB/YouTube

What we know

Director Yang Lina looks at three generations of the one family – and three very different periods in Chinese history – in her tale of a woman pulled between the needs of her mother and daughter. 

What the critics say

  • “Worthy of note is the mature performance of young Qu in the role of the daughter Wantig. It is she who closes the film’s ambiguously symbolic final sequence with her playful confidence, in what is probably a green light for her generation of Chinese women.” – The Hollywood Reporter 

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When’s it on?

27 February, 6.15pm, Cineworld.

Ditte & Louise

Source: Nordisk Film/YouTube

What we know

This film, which was a big hit in its native Denmark, tells the story of two actresses and close friends who to take their comedy show on the road. Then Ditte decides to try turning herself into bearded ‘Ditlev’ to try and get more work.

What the critics say

The film received a nomination for Best European Comedy at the 2019 European Film Awards. 

When’s it on?

28 February,6.15pm, Cineworld.

You Will Die at Twenty 

Source: International Film Festival Rotterdam/YouTube

What we know

A young Sudanese boy cursed by a prophecy about his death seeks friendship, love and life ambitions as his family come under increasing strain and pressure at the prospect of his passing.

What the critics say

  • “Boasting a terrific visual sensitivity, this rare film from Sudan has a fable-like quality in its depiction of an isolated village where superstition constrains its people.” – Variety
  • “Just as impressive are the film’s key cast members, all screen newcomers, with Rashed, Mubark and the particularly memorable Shehata tussling with Muzamil’s untimely destiny via internalised performances.” - Screen Daily

When’s it on? 

1 March, 8pm, Cineworld. 

The Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival runs from 26 February – 8 March 2020. For the full line-up, and to buy tickets, visit

About the author:

Adam Daly

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