Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival

#Feature: Irish films at the 17th Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival

The 17th Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival, Ireland’s premier film event, returns to the capital from February 20th to March 3rd, and hosts a bunch of Irish and international films. We’ve broken out the Irish films and detailed them below.

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Papi Chulo  – Opening Gala – Wed Feb 20th / Cineworld 17 / 18:30 and 21:00

Papi Chulo
Papi Chulo

John Butler’s third feature, Papi Chulo, is his first filmed outside of Ireland. Cast adrift in Los Angeles, Sean — a lonely TV weatherman — drives past a middle-aged Latino migrant worker standing outside Home Depot looking for work. He decides to hire this kind-looking man — to be his friend. Sean is young, gay and white; Ernesto, portly, straight and married. Despite having nothing in common, they build a sort of friendship based on sign language, until Sean becomes consumed by a deep and obsessional attraction. U.S. star Matt Bomer, who played the lead in USA Network’s White Collar and who won a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film in 2014 for The Normal Heart, takes the lead alongside Alejandro Patiño (The Runaways). Rob Walpole and Rebecca O’Flanagan produce for Treasure Entertainment, with financing by Screen Ireland, Head Gear Films, RTE and Windmill Lane. Head Gear Films’ Phil Hunt and Compton Ross are executive producing together with Bankside’s Hilary Davis and Stephen Kelliher.

When Hitchcock Met O’Casey – Tue 21 Feb / Light House 3 / 18:15

It was a collaboration between one of Ireland’s most noted playwrights and cinema’s greatest directors, yet the 1930 release of Juno and the Paycock is often neglected in the repertoire of both men. Brian O’Flaherty’s documentary aims to find out why. Featuring extensive, incisive interviews with family members, academics, directors and actors – including Shivaun O’Casey, Prof. Charles Barr, and Peter Sheridan – it tells the story of how these two iconic figures met and the legacy of the film.

Dub Daze – Sat 23 Feb / Cineworld 9 / 14:00

Writer and director Shane J Collins’ film is a coming-of-age collection of stories set in the north, south, and centre of Dublin city. We get to meet Dan and Baz, two friends who are looking for kicks on their last day of school. Cork medical students, Jack and Seán arrive in the capital to find their way amongst Ireland’s affluent youth, while songwriter Fi struggles to break through on the cut-throat Dublin music scene.

Floating Structures – Mon 25 Feb / IFI 1 / 18:30 

Floating Structures was funded under the Arts Council Reel Art scheme which is designed to provide film artists with a unique opportunity to make highly creative, imaginative and experimental documentaries on an artistic theme.  Feargal Ward and Adrian Duncan’s film follows a researcher travelling across Europe, exploring an array of buildings and structures that seem other-worldly. Drawing on the ideas and visions of the great Irish engineer Peter Rice, they explore the hinterlands that gave rise to these structures. Wandering from a quiet Bavarian town, to the streets of Paris, to the city of Seville, our past is sifted through and interlinked with precision and wonder.

What Time is Death? – Tue 26 Feb / IFI 1 / 18:30

What Time is Death
What Time is Death

The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu return, but now they’re no longer a pop group, they’re undertakers building a People’s Pyramid out of bricks made from the ashes of the dead. The film is directed by Paul Duane and backed by the Arts Council’s Reel Art scheme.

Dark Lies The Island – Wed 27 Feb / Cineworld 17 / 18:15

Dark Lies the Island
Dark Lies the Island

Ian FitzGibbon’s is a deliciously dark comedy that rips with violent tension. Set in a small Irish town and unfolding over the course of one week, a long-standing family feud comes to a head and forces the men to face the truth. Dark Lies the Island has a script from Kevin Barry, based on characters from his short story collection of the same name. The cast includes Peter Coonan (Penance, Love/Hate), Pat Shortt (The Flag, Twice Shy), Moe Dunford (Handsome Devil, Patrick’s Day), Charlie Murphy (Philomena, Rebellion), Tommy Tiernan (Derry Girls, Father Ted), John Quinn (Black ’47, Michael Inside) and Jana Mohieden. A Grand Pictures production, supported by Screen Ireland, RTÉ, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, Quickfire (UK), Egg Studios Ltd, and Section 481.

She’s Missing – Fri 1 Mar / Cineworld 17 / 20:40

She’s Missing

She’s Missing is a road movie, shot on location in New Mexico, and follows Heidi and Jane who live in a small desert town which has been bypassed by a bigger brighter world. Whilst Heidi is happy to daydream her time away in between shifts at the local diner, Jane strives for a life she thinks she deserves. After Jane suddenly disappears, Heidi is forced to take control and set out to find her friend, only to discover a world where reality and the borderless expanses of the desert intertwine. The film stars Eiza Gonzalez (From Dusk to Dawn, Baby Driver) and Lucy Fry (Wolf Creek, Vampire Academy) in the lead roles, with support from Sheila Vand (Argo, 24: Legacy), Josh Hartnett (Pearl Harbour, Penny Dreadful), Christian Camargo (The Hurt Locker, Twilight), Christopher Jordan Wallace (Everything Must Go), and Irish actress Antonia Campbell Hughes (Albert Nobbs, The Canal). Produced by Anna O’Malley and Eamonn Cleary of TW Films and Dominic Wright for Ripple World Pictures, with Ripple World’s Jacqueline Kerrin as executive producer with Adam Stanhope and Graham Appleby for GCI Film. Financing comes from GCI Film, Screen Ireland, and French film and TV lender Cofiloisirs, as well as the Section 481 and New Mexico tax credits.

Gaza – Sat 2 Mar / Cineworld 9 / 14:00


Gaza brings together an eloquent, resilient, funny and courageous group of souls, on whose lives the world lens is often trained, without ever capturing their true essence; their struggle, survival, resilience and sense of family, which goes to the very heart of humanity and human nature. The film unfolds a portrait of the ordinary people of Gaza who attempt to lead meaningful lives beyond the rubble of perennial conflict. Free of the cliché of news reportage, Gaza reveals a complex land of intrigue and highlight the beauty of the human condition and the warmth and humour that lies bubbling beneath the surface of this truly remarkable place. The documentary is directed and produced by Garry Keane and Andrew McConnell for Real Films.

Prisoners of the Moon – Sat 2nd Mar / Light House 3 / 16:30

Actors Jim Norton and Cathy Belton during filming of Prisoners of the Moon. Photograph: Brian Farrell
Actors Jim Norton and Cathy Belton during filming of Prisoners of the Moon. Photograph: Brian Farrell

Prisoners of the Moon is a Bandit Films production from writer/director Johnny Gogan (Black Ice) and co-writer Nick Snow. The film is a 75-minute “creative documentary” that tells the story of Arthur Rudolph, a Nazi rocket scientist who played a key role in the 1969 moon landing. The film is based on a radio play by journalist Nick Snow, and stars Jim Norton, Cathy Belton, Donal O’Kelly, Marian Quinn, Alan Devine and Marty Rea.

GretaSat 2 Mar / Light House 1 / 18:00


Directed by Academy Award®-winning Irish director Neil Jordan (The Crying Game) and comprising an impressive Irish and international cast including Stephen Rea (The Crying Game), Isabelle Huppert (Elle) and Chloë Grace Moretz (Carrie) , Greta is a contemporary psychological thriller. After discovering a handbag on a New York subway train, Frances McCullen (Moretz), a young woman bereaved by her mother’s death, sets about returning it to its rightful owner. Frances subsequently strikes up an unusual friendship with enigmatic widow Greta Hideg, however Greta’s motives may be more sinister than they initially seem. Stephen Rea, a frequent collaborator of Jordan’s features as a private detective, in the film which sees the streets of Dublin double-up as New York. Greta is produced by James Flynn (Calvary) for Metropolitan Films alongside Lawrence Bender, Sidney Kimmel and John Penotti, with Academy Award®-nominated Seamus McGarvey (Nocturnal Animals) serving as DOP, forming part of an Irish-led team which includes multiple Emmy Award-winning costume designer Joan Bergin, production designer Anna Rackard and editor Nick Emerson.

Shooting the Mafia – Sat 2 Mar / Cineworld 17 / 20:20

Shooting the Mafia
Shooting the Mafia

In sharp contrast to the all-pervasive romanticised and glamorised media image of the Sicilian Mafia, Kim Longinotto’s feature documentary Shooting the Mafia, unflinchingly explores the stark reality of life, and death, under the oppressive yoke of the Corleonesi Mafia. Photographer Letizia Battaglia stood up to the Mafia and it is through her lens that we enter this world of ritualised slaughter, omertà, semi-religious oppression and feudal control. The scale of the mafia’s brutality and power is revealed through a combination of rare archive footage, newsreel and personal photographs and memories. The power of Letizia’s photography and the bravery and dedication of people like her helped to finally bring to an end the brutal reign of a bunch of small town thugs who’s reign of fear reached as far as the Italian presidency. The documentary is directed by Kim Longinotto and produced by Niamh Fagan for Lunar Pictures.

Dirty God – Sun 3 Mar / Light House 1 / 17:30

Dirty God
Dirty God

Dirty God is a powerful film about motherhood, courage and self-acceptance. Jade is a young mother recovering from an acid attack that has left her with severe facial burns. Her face has been reconstructed, but her beauty is gone. Distanced from her daughter, Jade finds solace in the hidden world of online liaisons where she uncovers the passion and connection she’s craved. But when her life is turned upside down once more, those around can do little to halt her descent. As her family life and friendships start to crumble, Jade takes drastic action, finally finding the path back to her daughter and herself. Dirty God is an Irish/Dutch/UK/Belgian co-production, with Conor Barry and John Keville as Irish producers for Savage Productions, alongside Viking Film (NL), Emu Films (UK) and A Private View (BE).

Dublin on Screen – Fri 22 Feb / Light House Cinema / 16:30 & Fri 1 Mar / Light House Cinema / 11:00

This special screening will celebrate the work and storytelling of three very unique, community based projects.

The First Was a Boy

Shaun Dunne’s directorial debut explores the special bonds between grandparents and their grandchildren, and looks at themes of grief and ageing. Produced by Children’s Cultural Centre The Ark, and shot by Luca Truffarelli, it’s based on a series of interviews with older and younger members of the Ringsend community.

No Place Like Home

In this short documentary, young Dublin 8 film students are on a quest to find out why there’s a homeless crisis in their country, and what can be done. The film includes moving testimonies from people who are homeless and captures a sense of the anger of a nation. It asks the question: how can four thousand children be in emergency accommodation when Ireland is the 14th richest country in the world?


Time and place are explored in this film which imagines the architectural, psychological and sociopolitical changes in the area between Dublin’s Henrietta Street and the DIT Campus (formerly St Brendan’s/Grangegorman Asylum). The film features an original music score and voices invented by the artist, echoing things that she imagines could have been said.