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Jameson Film Festival: Review and Special Picks

The Jameson Film Festival finished on the 29th of March with a spectacular final day full of impressive films, enchanting guests, and tired but satisfied volunteers and staff. The festival which is Ireland’s premier film festival has had a massively successful run this year. Over the eleven days the festival has screened over 130 films from 38 countries from around the world. Actors, directors, and other film crew who worked on the various films have travelled to be in Dublin to give special Q&As throughout the festival. Some of the guests who attended this year’s festival included Alan Rickman for his film A Little Chaos, Russell Crowe for his film The Water Diviner, and Kim Cattrall for her film Sensitive Skin.

As a first time volunteer this year I got to experience all the behind the scenes action that the can only really be seen by volunteering. The hundred and seventy odd volunteers bond together over the eleven days through their dedication to the work and their love of film. It was truly inspiring to see the wide range people volunteers of all ages, locations, social backgrounds working together for the festival that they love. It’s something I wholeheartedly recommend you apply for next year.

As a volunteer I also got to see a number of films and I thought I’d give you a snap shot and review of the variety of films that were available this year. Telstar: The Joe Meek Story was the first film that I was lucky enough to get to see. The film tells the tragic story of Joe Meek, the renowned record producer from the 1960s. Meek (Con O’Neill) worked with some of the greatest musicians of the time, but as his career went on he became increasingly paranoid eventually resulting in him alienating all those who cared about him. The film from 2009 is thoroughly entertaining although there are some questions over its historical accuracy. Telstar also co-stars Kevin Spacey, James Cordon, and Tom Burke.

I also got the opportunity to see the new drama Lost River. Directed and written by Ryan Gosling the film is centred on a number of Detroit residence who have fallen on hard times. We were very lucky to have the screening introduced by a surprise guest, the Irish actress Saoirse Ronan who also stars in the film. There are a number of powerful performances in this film including Iain De Caestecker (Agents of Shield), Reda Kateb (Zero Dark Thirty) and Christina Hendricks (Madmen). However one of the really shocking performances is that of former Doctor Who Matt Smith, after this film you will never look at him in quite the same way so be warned. Overall it is a powerful intense drama that keeps you engrossed even when nothing is really happening.

Far From Men or Loin des Hommes is a French language based off a short story The Guest by Albert Camus from his collection The Exile and The Kingdom. It is set in 1954 as the Algerian War of Independence is about to flair into one of the bloodiest wars of decolonisation in human history. Daru (Viggo Mortenson), a school teacher and former French army Major, is charged with taking a prisoner Mohamed (Reda Kateb) to Tinguit. They form a special bond as they wander the desert fleeing Mohamed’s cousins and trying to avoid both the French army and Algerian rebels. The use of sound in this film is second to none, the eerie silences of the desert are starkly contrasted with the loud gunfire of the war to make it truly terrifying. It really brings home the pain and anger of the Algerian war and the culture clash between Algerians and French settlers.

Having seen one docu-drama, one blockbuster, and one foreign language film, the final film I chose to see was a full length documentary, The Last Man on the Moon. The documentary by Mark Craig revolves around the life of Eugene Cernan, the last human to step foot on the moon back on the Apollo 17 mission in 1972. The documentary is fantastic on the big screen in the Savoy, it uses wide panoramic shots of the lunar surface to show how the original Apollo astronauts would have seen it. The documentary follows the application of Cernan to the space program and the comradely developed between himself and the other Apollo astronauts as they prepared to quite literally go where no man had gone before. It also focuses on the human side of space exploration, with interviews with the wives and children of various astronauts and how tough it was to stay at home knowing their husbands and fathers may not be coming back. It is a stunning and inspiring story and to this day at age 81, Cernan is still championing more than ever that humans should return to space and that no matter what you do to give it your all.

The Jameson Dublin International Film Festival gives people the opportunity to escape reality. The opportunity to try things they would never have envisaged or imagined. It caters to every taste, from foreign dramas, to documentaries, to intense human stories, and everything in between. Although it is over of for this year I strongly recommend that if given the chance you buy a ticket for next year’s festival and enjoy the rollercoaster.

 

-Cillian Fearon

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