The Dublin International Film Festival: A Beginner’s Guide

In need of something to do over the next couple of weeks ? Search no longer: the Dublin International Film Festival kicks off this Wednesday and promises fun for confirmed film fans and casual theatre attendees alike. If you’re new to the festival or the Dublin film scene, don’t panic: from box office information to screening list, from workshops to volunteering information, we have you covered. 

Since its inception in 2003, the Dublin International Film Festival has kept growing and growing. This 2020 edition, proudly sponsored by Virgin Media for the second consecutive year, will have its opening gala this Wednesday and run for almost two weeks until the 8th of March. Through its run, the festival will have many different types of events and screenings for people looking for an exclusive insight into today’s film industry.

What can I expect ?

As obvious as it sounds: films. Lots of them. The festival will kick off this Wednesday evening with Lorcan Finnegan’s sci-fi thriller Vivarium, and over a hundred films will follow it until the closing gala twelve days later. While both the opening and closing films of the festival are Irish, the programme proudly wears its international colours, including films from every part of the globe. Since seeing every single movie the Dublin International Film Festival screens would be not only quite an overwhelming experience for both your eyes and your wallet, but also be physically impossible since many screenings occur at the same time in different venues, audiences also have the opportunity to choose among a wide variety of genres and topics in order to find their ideal film. Drama, comedy, documentary, crime and action all have their place in the festival.

It is also worth noting that the festival puts an emphasis on diversity under all its forms, which isn’t limited to language and nationality. About 40% of the films selected for the 2020 edition were directed by women. LGBTQ+ themes and filmmakers are also represented throughout the course of the festival. The festival also caters to specific audiences, such as Family Flix (kid-friendly films with discounted ticket prices for families) and Silver Screen (a selection of films that senior citizens can get special ticket prices for).

Finally, if you’re not in the mood for long-form cinema, fear not: the Dublin International Film Festival also has plenty of short film selections to choose from. It’s also worth keeping in mind that a good portion of the screenings will be attended by the filmmakers, which can make for an interesting experience.

Is there anything else to do ?

Short answer: yes.

Long answer: film festivals certainly wouldn’t be as popular as they are if they were only made for people to silently sit in dark theatre rooms and stare at a screen. The Dublin International Film Festival celebrates film, but also its fans, and encourages the creation of connections between filmgoers and filmmakers, who are more often than not huge cinephiles themselves. A few events of this type include a conservatoire performance of selected filmmakers’ favourite musical works, a diversity panel highlighting gender imbalance in the film industry or even a live podcast recording

If you’d rather connect with fellow film fanatics than with directors and cast members, fear not ! The Dublin International Film Festival is back with its annual film quiz, for which you can book a four-person table right now. And if trivia isn’t your thing, go down to Café en Seine, the Official Festival Club, to talk about the day’s films over a drink or a bite to eat. Don’t forget to show your festival ticket for a 10% discount !

Finally, the festival is also the opportunity for job seekers in the film industry to get some guidance and often much needed advice. Head down to masterclasses held by Paweł Pawlikowski (Cold War, Ida, Summer of Love), Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) or festival programmers to learn everything you need to know about directing, screenwriting and festival programming. Who knows, your film might be in the line-up next year !

Practical information: where to go and how to get tickets

Most of the screenings will take place either in Cineworld on Parnell Street or in The Light House Cinema in Smithfield. Both of these venues are easily accessible by bus or LUAS. For more information on how to get there, consider checking DIFF’s own list of public transport routes. Wheelchair users can also be reassured as both of the main venues are fully accessible. If you are however concerned about any disability issue that may hinder your ability to fully enjoy the screening or need assistance from a carer, please make sure to mention it while booking your ticket as your carer may get a companion seat free of charge.

As for events outside of screenings, the best thing to do is to take a look at the full programme as the festival and its workshops will spread throughout the whole city and all types of venues. Whether you are more of a pub person or a library rat, there will be a place for you to feel at home!

If you would like to participate in these festivities, the thing to do is to book tickets. You can physically buy tickets for the screenings and events of your choice at Cineworld’s pop-up box office, which opens from Thursday to Saturday. You can also call on 01 687 7974 or simply book online. The only criteria is to be quick, as tickets sell fast, especially for more high-profile screenings.

Tickets are usually €10 on weekday afternoons and €14 on weekends and evenings, with the exception of some special events (such as opening and closing galas) where prices may be higher. Seniors and students can avail of a 10% discount, while families can expect exclusive prices as well for child appropriate screenings. If you are a die-hard film fan, you can also grab a season ticket, which entitles you to see every film in the festival as well as attend exclusive events and parties, for €250 (or €450 if you bring a friend to the festival). And finally, if you’d like a good birthday present for the film fans in your life or simply show them your appreciation, gift vouchers are available and always a good option.

Can I get involved ?

This year’s festival is already fully planned, but if you enjoy this year’s experience, the Dublin International Film Festival gladly welcomes anyone that wants to get involved in the festival making process. Keep an eye on their vacancies page for any job opening that would fit your expectations and experience.

As for filmmakers who may want to see their name on next year’s programme, the end of spring and beginning of summer is when you’ll want to keep an eye out for submission opportunities. Feature films and documentaries (anything above 60 minutes) and shorts (anything under 30 minutes) are both accepted, and submission fees start at $30USD.

If you are neither a film industry professional or an aspiring director but would still like to show your appreciation to the festival, consider giving some of your time by volunteering (applications for this year are closed, but be on the lookout for announcements for next year’s volunteering opportunities on the festival’s social media pages) or learning more about the festival’s year-round initiatives to support disadvantaged audiences and young filmmakers.

Have you been to the Dublin International Film Festival before ? Is this your first year attending ? Are you excited for any films or events in particular ? Did you already pick your outfit for the closing gala ? Let us know in the comments below !

Callie Hardy
Callie Hardy

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