by / February 16th, 2013 /

Preview: Top Story: JDIFF 2013

The Jameson Dublin International Film Festival (aka JDIFF) has returned for its 11th birthday. Riding high on the inebriations of last year’s monumental success, JDIFF has arrived quietly out of the ether of the festival circuits.

JDIFF 2012 boasted gala events in the company of Glenn Close, Marky Mark and Al Pacino, with one of the high points of the entire festival being the utter excitement in the wake of Gareth Evans’ The Raid. Moreover, during the brevity of the festival’s 2012 lifespan, Dublin city centre was transformed into a maelstrom of goodwill, intoxication, excitement and furtive glad-handing. Punters darted from art-house cinema to multiplex, switching aesthetic from cerebral documentary to box office smash, and all the while gleefully attentive volunteers carefully guided them, directed by a staff of hyper-dedicated film buffs and marketing types.

And so, one would not be remiss in asking whether JDIFF 2013 can even expect to live up to the hype of its predecessors? In many ways, where 2012 was about the showmanship, 2013 will be about the context and the content: a thematically precise dissemination of the artistic complexity of cinema. Now that’s a mouthful of definition!

Getting down to true grit, it is easy to see where the press passes will be aimed. After Rufus Norris’ Broken opened the festival on Valentine’s night, most cameras will be looking towards Saturday, 23rd. Riding modestly off the back of the gargantuan success of The Avengers, artistic jack-of-all-trades Joss Whedon is rolling into the fair city to exhibit his one-room rendition of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. It probably won’t take $1.5 billion, but the cast of Whedon’s stable are sure to intrigue.

Aside from the other galas and special presentations, which include an eagerly anticipated screening of LA Confidential (Thurs 21) and JDIFF’s legendary Surprise Show (Sun 24), the festival brings a more subtle prestige across other categories. Opening the festival proper on Friday evening is acclaimed documentarian Alex Gibney’s harrowing Mea Maxima Culpa. A disturbing analysis into the pervasive and systematic ideological trappings of the Catholic Church’s child abuse in an mid-western American school for the deaf. With a mind to compliment Gibney’s cerebral exposé, Sunday follows with a showing of Sophie Fiennes’ The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology. Featuring controversial philosopher Slovaj Zizek’s analysis of various filmic ideologies. It’s already apparent that this year’s JDIFF is far more self aware than the festivals gone by. However, if anyone feels the need to continue the festival in such a thoughtful yet heavy manner, Amy Berg’s West of Memphis (Fri 22) investigates the gripping conviction of the now infamous teenagers from Arkansas.

‘European Perspectives’ brings an eclectic array of features that span all genres and tastes, mixing the psychologically and sexually explicit Serbian film Clip (Sat 16) with the Wachowski Siblings’ attempt at resurgence in the mammoth project Cloud Atlas (Sat 16) . While both films attempt a portrayal of identity crises, the means through which they exhume this quandary are worlds apart. One explores a teenage girl pursuing an aggressively unhealthy relationship in the wake of her father’s illness, while the other muses on the nature of our place in life; adapted from David Mitchell’s colossal novel of the same name. Beyond these comparative notes, you can look forward to Danish film A Hijacking (Wed 20) from Tobias Lindholm, who will be in attendance at Cineworld with his writer Rene Ezra, for the screening of his debut feature.

While the ‘Irish Focus’ section of the festival offers consistent brilliance with the IFB and JDIFF Shorts and the premier of the over-estimated Hardy Bucks Movie (Mon 18), JDIFF 2013’s greatest offer this year is without a doubt ‘Spectrum’. A collage of filmic tastes from every corner of the globe. With first-looks and retrospectives, Spectrum is what film festivals should be proud of. Richard Linklater’s quietly brilliant Bernie (Thurs 21) would be one of the newer offerings, compared with Arbitrage on Tuesday, 19th. From director Michel Franco, After Lucia gets two showings on Wed 20th and Sat 23rd, which frames one of the best kept jewels of this year’s JDIFF: Park Chan Wook’s Stoker receives an eagerly anticipated showing on Friday, 22nd in Cineworld. From the cinematic master of vengeance, Stoker‘s darkly gothic plot has delighted since its festival debut at Sundance in 2012.

There it is. A brief overview of what should be a carefully brilliant festival. From the re-screenings of classics like Kubrick’s The Killing and Billy Wilder’s Sunset Blvd. (both on Sat 23), to the freshest that World Cinema has to offer, JDIFF has once again offered a festival that can cater to anyone’s taste. Just be sure not to get lost in the vortex of crowds, booze and furious networking.