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Director: Barry Jenkins Starring: KiKi Layne, Stephan James, Regina King Running Time: 117 minutes


“I hope that nobody has ever had to look at anybody they love through glass.”

The words of James Baldwin, from a character that sadly knows that plenty have had to look at someone they love through glass, or through some restriction or another, few, if any, deserving to have their full hearts clutched by oppressive fists. As a writer who felt even harder than he thought and had too many of his own restrictions, it’s hard to blame the writer for his frustrations that ignored that pathos. Writing about the cinema of his time that aimed to show the black experience, socially active author Baldwin only ever found it inadequate. Their feel-good narratives rang false, tripping gracelessly over themselves to reassure and reframe for guiltily ignorant, or ignorantly guilty, white audiences. We can’t speak for Baldwin, but in adapting his novel If Beale Street Could Talk, Barry Jenkins has clearly and skillfully endeavoured to present a lived experience that is genuine, lives that feel real, and a lush love story that is all the more enriched by that effort to be genuine.

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It has been a year. In 2017 there was a lot for film fans to contemplate, but in what they say on the screen and in the wider film business. Month after month, entertaining, challenging and interesting films found their way onto Irish screens, either from Hollywood or any number of our own talented Irish directors. It was a year where the sickeningly pervasive culture of abuse in cinema was thrust into the headlines by brave survivors no longer willing to suffer in silence. It was also a year in great filmmaking, where talented, diverse directors were given the opportunity to show their talent, several for the first time, where performances transported us just as believably to the far-off future, the underprivileged, overlooked present and even outside the fluid realm of time altogether. This is Film In Dublin’s list of the best films of 2017, the films that moved us, entertained us, opened our eyes and otherwise expressed everything that cinema is meant to be, in a year that showed that cinema doesn’t always achieve those lofty ideals behind the scenes.

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Director: Barry Jenkins Starring: Trevante Rhodes, Ashton Sanders, Alex Hibbert, Naomie Harris, Mahershali Ali, Janelle Monàe, André Holland, Jharrel Jerome Running Time: 111 minutes

On a beautiful Miami beach, a father figure speaks to the young boy he’s decided to take responsibilty for. It’s a safe, calm place away from the oppressive inner city. In the moonlight, Mahershala Ali’s paternal drug-peddler Juan says to the silent and sad young Little, black boys look blue. Which is to say, how they’re seen changes depending on the world around them, and isn’t necessarily reflective of the truth. These words and the way in which they’re spoken reveal much about Moonlight, a poetic film that explores many issues about identity both racial and sexual, but does so in a deeply intimate and personal way.

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