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Reimagined Dublin International Film Festival brings new films and old classics as it moves online for 2021

The film festival, sponsored by Virgin Media with digital media sponsorship from TheJournal.ie, will run from 3 – 14 March.

NORMALLY FILMGOERS are gearing up for a few weeks of cinema-hopping as the Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival (VMDIFF) launches the programme for its upcoming event.

This year, while there sadly won’t be cinemas to go to there will still be a full programme of films to enjoy from across the world, in the comfort of your own home.

The festival will take place from 3 – 14 March this year, with a huge range of new films and old classics to enjoy. TheJournal.ie is delighted to be on board again this year as digital media partner. 

Gráinne Humphreys, festival director, said it had been “a very different selection process this year”, but she is ”extremely proud of this year’s line-up – there are some lovely premieres and previews, some old favourites and some wonderful discoveries and debuts from around the world”.

“We have reached out to old and new friends to join us for our online presentation and the guest list is growing every day,” she added. “I hope that this year’s programme will excite and delight both our regular attendees and attract new audiences to this year’s celebration of the best of independent cinema. It’s been a long climb to get here – but we believe the view is worth it.”

Over the past 17 years, the Dublin International Film Festival has screened over 1,600 international films and welcomed film stars including Al Pacino, Angela Lansbury, Brendan Gleeson, Ennio Morricone, Kristin Scott Thomas and Stellan Skarsgård.

This year’s festival event will see Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth return for a post-show discussion after the Virgin Media Opening Gala presentation of their moving drama Supernova. They’ll be joined by the film’s director, Harry Macqueen.


Alongside the international films will be an array of domestic talent. The Virgin Media Closing Gala film is Dubliner Rachel Carey’s dark comedy Deadly Cuts, which is about how the employees at a working-class Dublin hair salon become accidental vigilantes.

Other Irish highlights include humorous horror The Boys from County Hell, from Chris Baugh; Cathal Nally’s gangster comedy Be Good or Be Gone; Ivan Kavanagh’s feature Son; Tadgh O’Sullivan’s acclaimed To the Moon; and Piotr Domalewski’s exploration of the Polish/Irish experience, I Never Cry.

The spotlight will also be shone on Irish hip hop with a new initiative called Playback x VMDIFF: Irish Hip Hop & R&B. This is a specially curated season of the best contemporary hip hop music videos in Ireland today, selected by producer Mike Donnelly V and musician Erica Cody.

Then there’s the Future Shock strand, which was inspired by a phrase by Irish author Mark O’Connell, which includes films like Michel Franco’s New Order and David Burke’s The Father of the Cyborgs (about the neurologist Phil Kennedy and his work on implanting wire electrodes into brains).

The highlight of the film festival for many is getting to see those features that you’ve been hearing about for months but hadn’t yet arrived in Ireland – this year, those films include Ammonite (starring Saoirse Ronan), My New York Story (aka My Salinger Year, and starring our own Seána Kerslake) and Minari (starring Steven Yeun of Burning and The Walking Dead).

Other films from across the world include Gagarine (France), Apples (Greece), Limbo (UK) and the lauded Preparations to Be Together for an Unknown Period of Time (Hungary).

A number of in-conversation events with filmmakers will take place, including one between British filmmaker Steve McQueen (most recently behind the Small Axe series on BBC One, as well as Hunger and Shame) and one of Ireland’s leading filmmakers and screenwriters, Mark O’Halloran.

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My NY Year Sigourney Weaver

The festival will include a number of documentaries, including Jerry Rothwell’s critically acclaimed The Reason I Jump, which explores the experience of living with autism spectrum disorder; Stacey Lee’s look at gender disparity within the world of Electronic music, Underplayed; and Irish director Paul Rice’s documentary about the LGBTQ experience in Russia, A Worm in the Heart.

There’s also going to be the chance to see Is Anybody Out There, a documentary where 60 Trinity College students explored their life during the pandemic.

Film buffs will want to catch Kubrick by Kubrick, and He Dreams of Giants, which is about Terry Gilliam’s attempts to make a film about Don Quixote. 

There will also be a focus on Black women filmmakers with the 2021 Festival Retrospective, so keep an eye out for work by Amma Asante and Maïmouna Doucouré amongst many others.

Short film fans will also have lots to choose from. There will be an LGBTQ film selection, and a young audiences selection, as well as the Virgin Media Discovers Short Film Competition, in association with Screen Ireland.

The annual tradition of the Surprise Film will continue online, on 7 March. Guessing starts now…

Tickets for all the films can be bought at the box office at www.diff.ie

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