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The Dublin International Film Festival returns to the city this month and next and we’ve whittled it down to the 10 best features to check out (if they’re not sold out already!).


Black 47


Wednesday February 24

It’s a bit shocking, considering what a hugely significant event it was in our history, that it’s taken this long for a film to be made about the Irish potato famine. Helmed by first time director Lance Daly, it’s being described as a thriller and stars the likes of Hugo Weaving, Stephen Rea and Ireland’s young man of the moment Barry Keoghan (‘Dunkirk’, ‘Killing of a Sacred Deer’). ‘Black ’47’ refers to arguably the worst year of the famine 1847, in which moral degradation, abject poverty and death was most rife.

The Breadwinner


Thursday February 22

The Irish-made, Oscar-nominated animation was co-produced by Angelina Jolie and has been earning rave reviews at every festival that’s been lucky enough to show it. Produced by the increasingly prestigious Cartoon Saloon studios in Kilkenny, ‘The Breadwinner’ revolves around Parvana, a young girl who must dress as a boy in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan in order to provide for her family. Refusing to shy away from difficult subject matter, Nora Twomey’s film looks to deal with adult themes like social justice, gender inequalities and the civilian cost of conflict head on.

You Were Never Really Here

Lighthouse Cinema

Monday February 26

Filmmaker Lynne Ramsey’s last film was the expertly made, but deeply twisted drama ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’ and her latest project looks just as well-crafted and just as hair-raisingly harrowing. Joaquin Phoenix plays a PTSD-suffering veteran who now works as a private investigator specialising in finding missing girls. When one job cuts to close the bone, Phoenix finds that not only does his past come back to haunt him but also starts to make it increasingly difficult for him to separate what’s real and what’s a figment of his trauma-afflicted imagination. Given it received a reported seven-minute standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival, this is one to look out for.

The Cured

Lighthouse Cinema

Sunday February 25 

The Irish pandemic horror was mostly shot in an around the Croke Park area and boasts acting talent like Love/Hate’s Tom Vaughn-Lawlor and ‘Juno’’s Ellen Page. Set in a Europe ravaged by a deadly virus that turns people into monstrous zombie like creatures, ‘The Cured’ isn’t your typical post-apocalyptic survival film as it instead chooses to focuses on the horrors of the past and the futile attempts made by it’s characters to move on. That being said director David Freyne still has plenty of intense, shock filled sequences to get you hopping in your seats.

Mary Magdalene


Wednesday February 28

Stars Rooney Mara and Joaquin Phoneix will make an appearance at the Savoy screening of director Garth Davis’ ‘Mary Magdalene’. The two Academy Award nominees star in a film that tells the story of the founding of Christianity from a unique, female perspective. Mara plays Magdalene, who leaves a small fishing village in ancient Palestine to join a new movement led by a charismatic preacher named Jesus Christ. Davies’ previous credits includes the multi-Oscar nominated tearjerker ‘Lion’, so there is plenty of award calibre on display with this one.

In the Fade

Lighthouse Cinema

Friday February 23

Diane Kruger won best actress at Cannes for her portrayal of Katja, a women left in grief stricken shock after a horrific bombing attack results in familial tragedy. Directed by Faith Akin, the film is an emotionally draining look at the limits of the justice system when it comes to any real sense of closure. Kruger’s performance has been hailed as the best in her career.


Lighthouse Cinema

Thursday March 1

Israeli war drama ‘Foxtrot’ has a dance scene so transfixing and unconventional that one of the trailers for the film is simply just that. One minute of seemingly throwaway, hip-jiving action (It’s worth a watch). Samual Maoz’s sobering reflection on the abusive power that’s wielded by the Israeli Defence force is no jaunty affair however. ‘Foxtrot’ is a searing exploration in the unnecessary deaths of four young Arabs and the attempts by those who took those lives to cover up the injustices. Now nominated for Best Foreign Language Feature at the Oscars, Maoz’s movie holds some uncomfortable truths about the nature of the never-ending dynamic between oppressed and oppressor.



Thursday March 1

Director Todd Haynes last film was the gorgeous, deeply moving Carol, a drama about forbidden love set in the 1950s that was beloved by pretty much anyone with eyes. Any follow up would of course be met with much anticipation and ‘Wonderstruck’ might just be his most ambitious-sounding effort yet. ‘Wonderstruck’ interweaves two stories that are set 50 years apart, and hops back and forth between the two narratives throughout. In 1927, a young deaf girl runs away from her father’s New Jersey home to find her mother ,the actress Lillian Mayhew. In 1977, recently orphaned Ben runs away from his Minnesota home in search of his father. The first tale is black and white and silent and offers some of the most stunning images in Haynes’ career.

A Prayer Before Dawn


Saturday March 3

Inspired by a harrowing but incredible true story, this visceral drama documents the exploits of British boxer Billy Moore, who was imprisoned in one of Thailand’s most notorious jails. Moore’s only sense of salvation comes in the form of the Muay Thai tournaments he takes parts in. Set in a an actual prison in Thailand and with a cast that features former inmates, this looks like a fascinating exercise in neo-realist filmmaking. Lead actor Joe Cole has also earned rave reviews for his raw physicality and for the emotional depths he reaches.

Mary and the Witches Flower

Lighthouse Cinema

Saturday March 3

Acclaimed anime director Hiromasa Yonebayashi has made his first film without the assistance of the legendary Studio Ghibli. With a plot not unlike Harry Potter, a precocious, seemingly ordinary girl’s life changes when she is given a place in a school for witches. It’s standard stuff for the man who gave us charming features like ‘When Marnie Was There’ and ‘The Secret Life of Arrietty’. If this film manages to have just an ounce of the same magic of the Miazaki classics that preceded it, it bodes well for the future of Japanese animation.

Words: Mark Conroy 
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