Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival

#VMDIFF19: Dublin Film Critics Circle announces award winners for the 2019 Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival

The 2019 Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival drew to a close last night with the Irish premiere of Tom Harper’s Wild Rose. The film features a brilliant central performance from Kerry native Jessie Buckley who wowed the crowd with a three-number set from the film, which is based on the country music scene in Glasgow.  Earlier in the day Buckley had been awarded Best Actress by the Dublin Film Critics Circle.

The Dublin Film Critics Circle VMDIFF Awards Ceremony saw the Jury select the best eligible films from the Festival line up for the 12th consecutive year. The awards were supported by Limelight Communications for the third year running.

German drama Transit, directed by Christian Petzold, won Best Film. The film is based on Anna Seghers’s 1942 novel of the same name and sees a man flee France after the Nazi invasion by assuming the identity of a dead author whose papers he possesses. Stuck in Marseilles, he meets a young woman desperate to find her missing husband – the very man he’s impersonating.

Best Director went to Rima Das for Bulbul Can Sing, a coming-of-age drama about a young girl living in rural India, while Best Cinematogrpahy went to Hiroshi Okuyama for Jesus, the story of a young boy in Japan who ends up in a Christian school that he doesn’t understand, which was also written and directed by Okuyama.

The big Irish winners, other than Buckley, were Garry Keane and Andrew McConnell’s GAZA, a look at the struggle of the 2 million Palestinian people trapped in the twenty-five by seven mile Gaza strip, which took Best Documentary; and Neil Jordan’s elevated B-movie Greta, which took Best Irish Film.

Five Jury Prizes were awarded to directors whose films were deemed especially moving or powerful: Jia Zhangke for Ash is Purest White, Alex Ross Perry for Her Smell, Baran Kosaris for Permission, Bo Hu for An Elephant Standing Still, and Bo Burnham for Eight Grade.

The Michael Dwyer Discovery award, named for The Irish Times’s late film correspondent, was awarded to Northern Irish musician Dianne Lucille Campbell a.k.a. Die Hexen for her work on short El Hor. The George Byrne Maverick Award, named for the late great film reviewer, was given to writer, director, actor Hugh O’Conor, whose short animation The Overcoat played in the Fantastic Flix part of the festival and who contributed a selection of stunning monochromatic portraits of artists involved in the festival, which is on display in Powerscourt Town Centre.

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 there 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.

Audience Award

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.

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.
Alex Holmes, Director – Maiden

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 went 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.

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.
Grainne Humphreys, Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival Director

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.
Niamh O’Driscoll, Senior Brand and Communications Manager – Virgin Media

ICCL Human Rights Awards

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.”

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.
Talal Derki, Director – Of Fathers & Sons

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”.

Heartbound: A Different Kind of Love Story was 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.

DFCC Award Winners:

BEST FILM: Christian Petzold, Transit

BEST DIRECTOR: Rima Das, Bulbul Can Sing

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Hiroshi Okuyama, Jesus

BEST DOCUMENTARY: Garry Keane and Andrew McConnell, GAZA

BEST IRISH FILM: Neil Jordan, Greta

BEST SCREENPLAY: Bai Xue, The Crossing

BEST ACTOR: Bogdan Dumitrache, Pororoca

BEST ACTRESS: Jessie Buckley, Wild Rose

JURY PRIZE: Jia Zhangke, Ash is Purest White

JURY PRIZE: Alex Ross Perry, Her Smell

JURY PRIZE: Baran Kosaris, Permission

JURY PRIZE: Bo Hu, An Elephant Standing Still

JURY PRIZE: Bo Burnham, Eight Grade