The DIFFerence really is Dingle!
This years Dingle International Film Festival (Dingle IFF) has just come to a close and everyone involved can exhale with a happy sigh. 2019 was the biggest and most attended Festival to date. Across the programme, screenings were packed and audiences animated and delighted with the films they got to see. From the opening words of Jessie Buckley’s father Tim Buckley at the opening film WILD ROSE, audiences were enraptured. Tim spoke not only of the film and encouraged everyone to strive for their dream, but also commended Festival Director Maurice Galway on what he has achieved with the Festival and encouraged Dingle town to take a look at what they have in this singular event.
And so it came to pass that screening after screening, every Pow Wow Chinwag and Banter, every short film, every event in fact, buzzed with energy and joy. Even for the event organisers and the 50+ volunteers, it was a wonderful surprise.
As filmmakers, audiences, guests, and locals moved throughout and around the town of Dingle, the Festival organisers and volunteers were working hard to gather, analyse, adjudicate and count votes. Audiences were encouraged to vote for their Best Short and Best Feature; and a carefully selected panel of judges were to deliberate and decide upon the Físín winner for 2019.
Dingle IFF rewards contributors to film and television every year. The Audience Choice Awards for Best Short and Best Feature supported by Soho House were presented by Mandy Kean, International Director of Cinema for Soho House before the European premiere of THE PUSH on Sunday 24th.
Best Audience Choice Feature winner went to DARK LIES THE ISLAND directed by Ian FitzGibbon. A dark comic melodrama about a family spinning out of control in a small irish town, this wonderful Irish movie is a deserved winner. Many cast and crew were in attendance for the Festival weekend, including Ian and the Producer Michael Garland. Maurice Galway encouraged everyone to ‘get behind this wonderful film’ and tweet, share, write about and talk about it; encouraging us all to push it out there and help it on its journey.
Best Audience Choice Short went to THE VASECTOMY DOCTOR directed by Paul Webster. This incredible short film tells the story of Dr Andrew Rynne, Ireland’s first vasectomist who became famous when a man walked into his surgery with a rifle. Zeb Moore from the Richard Harris International Film Festival who stars in the film was around all weekend as was Paul Webster himself.
The Físín winner for 2019 was Niamh Lawlor with le Béirín Beag Buí. This was a brave step for the Físín judges as Niamh is a previous winner. 2019 saw more Físín entries than ever before and the event is truly going from strength to strength. It was no easy decision to come to, but Tor Cotton, the Físín sponsor and coordinator was excited at the idea of ‘a sequel’ coming to the fore in Físín. Físin is the only competition that offers an award for Irish script. The festival congratulates these deserving winners and looks forward to their future projects.
The circle and synchronicity of Físín was omnipresent this year. Last years Físín winner, Tristan Heanue, attended with his finished film CIÚNAS, a very fine and perfect treatment of the submitted 2018 script. SLÁN LEIS AN gCEOL was also screened at the Festival and is the first feature of previous Físín winner, Cathal Ó Cuaig.
The new Festival Hub in McCarthy’s Bar played host to the busy Box Office as well as acting as a screening room for the new Adults Only programmes. These evening screenings were full and made way, as the night progressed, for the wonderful eclectic mix of music filmed by ARENA during its 40 year span. Dingle IFF diehard, Anthony Wall of BBC ARENA carefully curated a music programme for the nightly Festival Club in McCarthy’s Bar were festival guests and attendees chatted well into the night. By day, then, the Festival Pow Wow events took place there. Writer and Director, Kirk Jones kicked off these events on Friday to a packed house at his Chinwag session with casting director Ros Hubbard, followed on Saturday by music composer for film, Patrick Doyle’s Chinwag, chaired by Sarah Glennane and a Banter session with the Irish Documentary Panel made up of Niall McCann (The Science of Ghosts), Jill Beardsworth (When All is Ruin Once Again), Treasa O’Brien (The Town of Strangers), Cathal Ó Cuaig (Slán Leis an gCeol) and Brian Lally (The Curious Works of Roger Doyle) and chaired with his usual thoroughness in researching his subject, by Aodh Ó Coileáin.
The Adults Only screenings were not the only new departure for Dingle IFF. 2019 also saw the presentation of SNAPSHOTS a collection of visual arts moving images in a cinema context selected through an Open Call for submissions. This event was a partnership between the Festival and MExIndex, and played to a full house on Sunday afternoon.
The FREE FRIDAY of FILM hosted generously by the EU Parliament allowed for full houses all day long. Audiences had wonderful things to say about the LUX Films screened and especially the LUX Prize winner WOMAN AT WAR. Typically LUX films are selected for their look at issues affecting us today across Europe and the films screened at Dingle IFF encouraged discussion on topics handled in these three films and encourages us all to support and act rather than to remain passive. All of these screenings are unique in that the EU Parliament specially commissions IRISH subtitles for films screened at Dingle IFF and supports the Festivals endeavours to support its Gaeltacht environs. EU Commission funded shorts also screened at the festival.
The Festival always boasts an interesting mix of Shorts Programmes and 2019 was no DIFFerent. Once more, screenings in the iconic St James Church were packed time after time, and especially so for the Screen Ireland Shorts and the annual Kingdom Shorts slot which supports shorts made in, of, or from Kerry. Irish film, supported by Screen Ireland, came to the fore with full house’s for both FLOAT LIKE A BUTTERFLY and, of course, DARK LIES THE ISLAND, both real favorites at the festival.
Similar to its commitment to short film, is the penchant Dingle IFF has for Documentary film. This was evident in the Documentary Shorts Programme and the 5 Irish Feature Documentaries screened; and, as with most screenings, directors, producers were present for engaging introductions and Q&A’s. Adrian Crowley, the subject of Science of Ghosts also performed live in St. James Church following a fun Q&A with director Niall McCann, hosted by Maurice Galway.
The final screening in St.James Church was the hilarious Waking Ned Devine, presented by it’s director and writer Kirk Jones. Yes, still after all these years, WAKING NED DIVINE is a brilliantly funny film. Kirk pointed to all the films Dingle connections, including having been written there and all characters names coming out of a local cemetery. Kirk’s visit to the festival was supported by the Dingle Hub.
THE SISTERS BROTHERS broke away from this commitment to documentary as the Feature screening in the Phoenix Cinema on Saturday night, but the Festival chose to close with the uplifting and inspirational documentary film THE PUSH.
As with all the Feature Screenings at night in the phoenix Cinema, it was accompanied so very nicely with a Dingle Gin reception sponsored by Dingle Distillery. Dingle Gin also picked up the award for World’s Best in the London Dry Gin category. The spirit is produced in the Dingle Whiskey Distillery and was conceived by Liam LaHart, the late Oliver Hughes and Peter Mosley.
THE PUSH presented a fitting end to an overwhelmingly popular weekend. It documents the incredible journey of Grant Korgan who attempted the insurmountable and became the first spinal cord injured athlete to literally PUSH himself to the South Pole. Many members of the cast and crew journeyed themselves to Ireland from the US for this European Premiere and Gala presentation of the film, with a vibrant Q&A with Grant Korgan, Shawna Korgan and Dr James Lynch from the Nevada Spinal Clinic following the film.
As the audience gave a standing ovation and the walls, ceiling and floor of the Phoenix Cinema resounded with applause, it seemed like Dingle International Film Festival too had pushed the boat out, gone that extra mile, thought about each guest with sincerity and careful attention to detail and, in this way, made the weekend a very particular one for all concerned.
Anyone who attended might agree, the DIFFerence really is Dingle.
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