The Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival

Neil Jordan. Photo courtesy Wiki commons.

By David Prendeville

The 17th Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival, Ireland’s premier film event, returns to the capital from February 20th to March 3rd. The packed programme features over 125 events across 12 days, including the finest local and international feature films, short films and documentaries, along with a dedicated children’s and young people’s programme and a host of special events featuring industry leaders.

The festival opens with the Irish premiere of Papi Chulo, the new film from John Butler, director of Handsome Devil and The Stag. The film’s actors Matt Bomer and Alejandro Patino will join Butler on the red carpet. The comedy-drama tells the story of a well-heeled, lonely, gay TV weatherman who strikes up an unusual friendship with an older straight migrant worker from Mexico and is said to deal with themes of friendship, class, ethnicity and economic migration.

The Office star Stephen Merchant will visit the festival for a screening of his new film Fighting with My Family. The curious-sounding film stars the up-and-coming Florence Pugh in the true-life tale of the rise of WWE superstar Paige and was both produced and co-stars Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.

Killarney actor and 2019 Bafta Rising Star nominee Jessie Buckley will attend the closing gala of her new film Wild Rose, which follows a Glaswegian woman’s dream of making it as a country singer in Nashville, following her release from prison.

Other notable guests who will make appearances at the festival include Josh Hartnett, Lucy Fry and Eiza Gonzalez, who will attend the world premiere of She’s Missing, written and directed by Dubliner Alexandra McGuinness.

Other Irish cinema to be seen at the festival includes. Neil Jordan’s new film Greta, which stars Isabelle Huppert, Chloe Grace Moretz and Maika Monroe. Ian Fitzgibbon’s new film Dark Lies the Island, starring Pat Shortt, Charlie Murphy and Tommy Tiernan, will also screen. There is also a wealth of fascinating titles amongst this year’s shorts programmes, including the much-admired Galway winner Wren Boys.

Audiences’ continued love of documentaries is reflected in the 2019 programme. Maiden is the critically-acclaimed sailing documentary chronicling the first ever all-female crew to enter the Whitbread Round the World Race in 1989, skippered by Tracy Edwards and also featuring Irish woman Angela Heath on the crew.

Irish-produced Shooting the Mafia is Kim Longinotto’s powerful documentary, through the eyes and lens of photographer Letizia Battaglia, which strips back the glamorous image of the Sicilian Mafia, showing the harsh reality of life, death and business at the hands of those who wield it.

Virgin Media DIFF also hosts the world premiere of Land Without God, a deeply personal documentary which movingly centres on Mannix Flynn and his family as they recall the effects of decades of institutional abuse, and the impact it had, and continues to have, on their lives.

The Inspirations strand of the festival features movies chosen by some of Ireland’s best-loved authors, including Tana French, who selects Picnic At Hanging Rock, Peter Weir’s 1975 classic, widely acclaimed for its sense of mystery, sexual fear and hysteria, stunning cinematography and cultural undertones. Liz Nugent has chosen Perfume: The Story of a Murderer starring Ben Whishaw as a perfumier who uses the scents most evocative to him to create his unique fragrances; and Sinead Gleeson picks Stanley Kubrick’s iconic horror The Shining.

The Fantastic Flix strand of the festival for mini-movie fans marks the 40th anniversary of one of pop culture’s most iconic movies, The Muppet Movie, and also celebrates difference and diversity in film with highlights including Rosie and Moussa which looks at embracing multiculturalism; Kenyan film Rafiki, a gorgeous LGBT film which shows how love can bloom even in difficult circumstances; and a visit to Dublin by Bo Burnham for the Irish premiere of his new movie Eighth Grade.

A standout for this writer in the programme is the Irish premiere of Brady Corbet’s highly acclaimed Vox Lux.

Corbet’s second film after the superb The Childhood of a Leader is said to feature a ferocious performance by Natalie Portman as a high-school massacre survivor turned pop-star. Alex Ross Perry’s Her Smell starring Elisabeth Moss and Cara Delevingne comes off the back of strong festival buzz.

Speaking about the Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival 2019 programme, Grainne Humphreys, Festival Director said: “As well as celebrating the best of Irish film talent, the programme for this year’s festival once again features a global line-up, including world premieres and visits from the industry’s best-known stars. We’ve found some fantastic titles for this year and we’re looking forward to sharing these discoveries. Whether it’s feature films, documentaries exploring topical themes or a celebration of Charlie Chaplin’s iconic The Kid, The 2019 Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival definitely celebrates the love Irish people have for cinema and those who make it. We’re delighted to be working with Virgin Media as the festival’s title sponsor for three years too. They’re known for their association with the best movies and television content as Ireland’s leading connected internet provider and our partnership will allow us to bring some of the world’s most exciting cinema to a wider audience.”

More information and tickets are available at