Leading Female Filmmaking Talent At The Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival 2019

The credits rolled and lights came up last night on the 17th Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival, Ireland’s premier film event. The successful festival ran from Wednesday February 20th to Sunday March 3rd.


The festival enjoys an international reputation and is considered a vital launch-pad for Irish film and an important showcase of world cinema for discerning audiences. This year’s programme included no less than eleven world premieres, including Dark Lies The Island, She’s Missing, Dub Daze, Floating Structures, What Times Is Death, Land Without God, A Girl from Mogadishu, When Hitchcock Met O’Casey and Dublin On Screen’s The First Was a Boy, Confinement and There's No Place Like Home.


International Women’s Day takes place on Friday and this year’s festival celebrated women who are leading in their filmmaking fields, from the world premiere of Mary McGuckian’s A Girl from Mogadishu, an inspiring true story of female empowerment based on the testimony of Ifrah Ahmed; the critically acclaimed documentary Maiden about the first all-female crew to enter the Whitbread Round the World Race; to a masterclass with Joceyln Pook, one of the UK’s most versatile composers with an international reputation as a highly original composer, winning numerous awards and nominations including a Golden Globe and two British Composer Awards.


Closing Gala


One of Ireland’s most exciting new female acting talents, Jessie Buckley, performed the final act of the festival with the premiere of her new film Wild Rose. In the film, the Killarney actor and 2019 BAFTA Rising Star Award nominee displays her considerable musical and dramatic talent as Rose-Lynn Harlan in the inspiring, infectiously joyous heart warmer, where Rose-Lynn dreams of getting out of Glasgow and emulating the country singers she idolises by making it as a singer in Nashville, but life decisions and circumstances soon find her facing what she perceives as a choice between family and stardom.


Audience Awards


Each year the audience who attends the Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival gets to vote on the films that bring a smile to their face; a tear to the eye; inspire or clean knock their socks off! Thousands of movie lovers who attended this year’s festival voted for the Virgin Media Audience Award and Audience Short Film Award.


The critically acclaimed sailing documentary Maiden was chosen as the Virgin Media Audience Award winner. It centres on the first ever all-female crew to enter the Whitbread Round the World Race in 1989. At its core is a fascinating subject, Tracy Edwards, a young cook on charter boats who gets to skipper the team as they attempt to break new ground and make history. At great personal sacrifice, Edwards and her team set out to defy convention and sexism and smash a glass ceiling.


Speaking about receiving the Virgin Media Audience Award the filmmaker said: “Everyone at New Black Films is so grateful to the audiences at the Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival for honouring us with their coveted award. We are thrilled that the Irish public responded so enthusiastically to Tracy Edwards' inspiring story, and chose through their votes to recommend the film to audiences around the world who will be able to enjoy it for themselves when the film is shown in cinemas from March 7th. We’d like to thank the festival’s organisers and our distributors Dogwoof for helping us connect with such a valued audience.”


The Virgin Media Audience Award was as hotly contested as ever, with a broad range of films with varied topical themes making up the top five. The other four films were Land Without God which centres on Mannix Flynn and members of his family as they recall the effects of decades of institutional abuse and the impact it has had; Mia and the White Lion about a single-minded girl who befriends and bonds with a lion cub named Charlie, only to find him the target of big-game trophy hunters as he approaches full size; A Girl from Mogadishu about Ifrah Ahmed, one of the world’s foremost global activists against Female Genital Mutilation; and Damian Callinan’s Australian comedy The Merger, the story of a former Aussie Rules professional football player who returns to his hometown to coach his local club which recruits refugees to keep it viable.


The Audience Short Film Award goes to 99 Problems. Directed by Ross Killeen and produced by Louise Byrne, it gives the inside scoop on the murky world of the ice cream business. On the surface this unassuming business seems harmless, but dig a little deeper and it has quite a dark undertone, where turf wars are fierce. Through the eyes of Pinky, the self-declared 'king of the ice-cream men', viewers are taken into this unregulated industry where rival drivers will stop at nothing to protect their livelihoods.

Speaking about this year’s festival, Grainne Humphreys, Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival Director, said “As Virgin Media DIFF comes to a close once again I’m delighted that we were able to bring so many fantastic features to an Irish audience. We celebrated the best of Irish and international filmmaking talent with a line-up that included world premieres, new discoveries and visits from the industry’s best known stars. We were also delighted to partner with Virgin Media on the first of a three year sponsorship. The partnership allowed us to bring some of the world’s most exciting cinema to a wider audience.” 


Niamh O’Driscoll, Senior Brand and Communications Manager of Virgin Media, said: “We were delighted to be named as title partner of this year’s Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival. It is such a great match as it underlines our commitment to foster creativity in film production and television content as Ireland’s leading connected entertainment provider and commercial broadcasting company.  The past twelve days of the festival brought together so many of Ireland’s top producers, directors, screenwriters and actors. There was also an amazing team of people involved in bringing to life the programme and creating the unique experiences for audiences so that they could discover the art of film while at the same time celebrating emerging film talent."


Documentary Award


The documentary jury were unanimous in choosing Of Fathers & Sons as the inaugural winner of the inaugural Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival documentary competition. Talal Derki’s intimate, widely praised documentary centres on a radical Islamist family and their harsh existence as war rages around them in Syria. Speaking about it the jury said “this film is not only a ground-breaking documentary but thanks to the courage of the filmmaker we are given access to a world that we would never normally have the opportunity to experience.”


On receiving the award, Talal Derki said “I am very honoured to win this prestigious award at Ireland's most popular film festival and I thank the jury for that. The victims of all these conflicts are the children and we must do everything to ensure that they have a better future. Therefore, I dedicate this award to the children in my home country Syria.”


The documentary competition jury was comprised of director Pat Murphy (Anne Devlin, Nora), director Ken Wardrop (His & Hers, Mom & Me), and Hamish McAlpine, producer (Funny Games, Bundy). As an honourable mention the jury also acknowledge the Irish documentary Gaza, describing it as “another wonderful film that took great courage to bring to the big screen”.


Irish & International Filmmaking Talent


A host of the world’s leading movie stars and filmmakers were in Dublin especially for the festival. Famous faces who walked the red carpet were Ralph Fiennes who brought his new film The White Crow and also received the festival’s prestigious Volta Award; Matt Bomer, Alejandro Patino and John Butler for the premiere of Papi Chulo; Alexandra McGuinness, Lucy Fry, Antonia Campbell Hughes and Blake Berris visited for the world premiere of She’s Missing; Pat Shortt, Peter Coonan and Moe Dunford were here with Dark Lies The Island; and star of The Office Stephen Merchant attended with his new film Fighting With My Family, which he wrote, directed and stars in.


Dublin Human Rights Film Award


Heartbound: A Different Kind of Love Story is announced as the winner of the newly relaunched Dublin Human Rights Film Award, a partnership with the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL). The award is given to one film from the programme which raises awareness and understanding of human rights through the medium of film. Directed by Janus Metz and Sine Plambech, the documentary is set in a tiny fishing village in northern Denmark where over 900 Thai women have married and settled. It sets out to discover why these women crossed the world to marry, a phenomenon that started years earlier when a former sex worker married a local man.


The award was chosen by an esteemed adjudication panel which include film and television director Aoife Kelleher; Irish Times journalist and author Sorcha Pollak; actor, playwright and screenwriter Emmet Kirwan, Direct Provision activist Bulelani Mfaco; and disability advocate and ICCL board member Suzy Byrne. They also gave special mention to Mannix Flynn, Maedhbh McMahon and Lotta Petronella’s Land Without God as a very important Irish film.


Children’s Jury Awards


The Fantastic Flix programme for mini movie fans returned for its fourth year bringing a wide range of movie magic to younger audiences while celebrating difference and diversity in film. A jury of eleven 11-12 year olds had the opportunity to watch, evaluate and review all of the Fantastic Flix titles from around the world, giving them the opportunity to see some great films, share their opinions and discover the craft of critiquing film.


The Children’s Jury is run in collaboration with The Ark’s Children’s Council and the Irish Film Classification Office. Their winning films are:


·         Best Feature Film: Mia and the White Lion

·         Feature Film Special Mention: Departures

·         Best Short Film: First Disco

·         Short Film Special Mention: The Overcoat


The Children’s Jury members are Sophie O Neill Miley, Jagger Blount, Freya Simpson, Kaelan Musi, Madison Tucker, Evie Kenny, Fionnán Ó Baoighill, Amalia Godley, Laoise Connolly Heery, Conn Butler and Luka Delaney.


Young Programmers


The Fantastic Flix Young Programmers initiative offers 15-19 year-olds the chance to curate, host and influence the Fantastic Flix strand. It is a unique role which allowed them to step into the shoes of filmmakers and audiences alike. The Young Programmers met for a number of modules between December and February to curate a programme of short films and watch and recommend new films for the Festival.


They also chose one film from the programme as the Young Programmers Choice. The winning film is Rafiki. Speaking about Rafiki they said “We are delighted to award director Wanuri Kahiu with the Young Programmer’s Choice Award. Rafiki is not only an excellent exhibition of Kahiu’s talent as a filmmaker but also an outstanding portrayal of love in the face of adversity.”


They also give special mention to Ballon. Commenting on the film they said: “we are delighted to present Michael Herbig with a special mention for his film Ballon, a moving and intense depiction of the life of those living in the GDR and their attempts to escape to a better life.”


The Young Programmers were Caitlin Barry, Ifunanya Chukwuewuzie, Sally Howard Ihle, Croi Lenihan, Gaurav Ramsurn and Sagan Adan.


Dublin Film Critics Circle Awards


Established in 2006, The Dublin Film Critics Circle (DFCC) offers the nation’s full-time professional film journalists the opportunity to share opinions on recent releases and ponder the year’s award contenders.


The 2019 DFCC Awards go to:

·         Best Film: Transit

·         Best Director: Rima Das for Bulbul Can Sing

·         Best Cinematography: Hiroshi Okuyama for Jesus

·         Best Documentary: GAZA, Garry Keane and Andrew McConnell

·         Best Irish Film: Greta, Neil Jordan

·         Best Screenplay: The Crossing, Bai Xue

·         Best Actor: Bogdan Dumitrache for Pororoca

·         Best Actress: Jessie Buckley for Wild Rose

·         Jury Prize: Jia Zhangke, Ash Is The Purest White

·         Jury Prize: Alex Perry Ross, Her Smell

·         Jury Prize: Baran Kosaris, Permission

·         Jury Prize: Bo Hu, An Elephant Standing Still

·         Jury Prize: Bo Burnham, Eighth Grade

·         George Byrne Maverick Award: Hugh O’Conor

·         Michael Dwyer Discovery Award: Dianne Lucille Campbell


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For more information visit www.diff.ie


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For further press information please contact Conway Communications:

Nigel Goggin (Nigel@conwaycommunications.ie / 087 604 1161)


For Virgin Media enquiries please contact:

Anna-Maria Barry (AnnaMaria.Barry@virginmedia.ie / 086 227 2072)


About the Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival


The Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival was founded in 2003 and sets the agenda of the year with its programme of outstanding Irish and international film talent. Featuring a red carpet line-up of on-screen talent and guest filmmakers, the festival offers unique access to a plethora of filmmaking talent and transforms Dublin into a hub of glamour, creativity and film appreciation.


Over the past 16 years, Dublin International Film Festival has screened world cinema from 52 different countries, a total of almost 1,500 films, of which 300 were Irish features including Irish premieres of Sing StreetOnceOndineIn BrugesCalvaryThe Stag and The Secret of Kells. The Festival has hosted over 600 major guests, including Al Pacino, Angela Lansbury, Brendan Gleeson, Daniel Day-Lewis, Danny DeVito, Ennio Morricone, Joss Whedon, Julie Andrews, Kristin Scott Thomas, Stanley Tucci, and Stellan Skarsgård.

This year the Dublin International Film Festival is sponsored by Virgin Media, with principal funding from The Arts Council. Key partners and funders include Screen Ireland, Dublin City Council, hotel partner The Merrion Hotel, print transport partner Wells Cargo, post-production partner Windmill Lane, social listening partner Olytico and media partners Orb Screen, Wide Eye Media, the Sunday Independent, 98FM and Entertainment.ie.


About Virgin Media


Virgin Media is one of the country’s leading connected entertainment providers and operates a cable and broadcast business in Ireland.


Our cable business delivers multi award-winning services: broadband, TV, mobile and home phone connect thousands of people across the country. We are extending our cable footprint with our ‘Project Lightning’ so that more communities can enjoy the benefits of the fastest, widely available broadband speeds from Virgin Media.


Our broadcast division, Virgin Media Television is Ireland’s number one commercial broadcaster operating three free-to-air channels (Virgin Media One, Virgin Media Two, Virgin Media Three, plus the Virgin Media Player) and is a significant investor in home produced content across news, current affairs and drama. We offer extensive sports coverage on our Virgin Media Sport and our 6 Extra Sport channels to ensure fans see all games across UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League fixtures and more.


Through Virgin Media Business, we support entrepreneurs, businesses and the public sector, delivering the fastest speeds and tailor-made services.


Virgin Media is part of Liberty Global, the world’s largest international TV and broadband company. Liberty Global connects 21 million customers through operations in 10 countries across Europe subscribing to 45 million TV, broadband internet and telephony services. It also serves 6 million mobile subscribers and offers WiFi service through 12 million access points across its footprint.

For further information please visit: www.virginmedia.ie