Short film programmes are often the best part of a film festival, and the Dublin International Film Festival is no exception. Offering snapshot slots of rising Irish talents, the short films can be the place to see who is coming next down the pipeline, and for checking in with the latest works of Irish industry mainstays. Look at the credits for short films screened at DIFF and you’ll quickly see names you’ll remember down the line – you only have to see how many of this year’s Discovery Award nominees are in for their short credits to see that.
The DIFF 2023 programme has the usual collection of films from around the world, screening shorts from China, Iran, Norway, New Zealand, Greece and Egypt, Columbia and Tunisia to name just a few. Looking through the Irish picks, we’re already excited about some works we’ve seen at Film In Dublin, and while you’re snapping up your tickets we’ve picked out a handful of some of the great Irish shorts showing across the festival’s three short film programmes that we recommend that you ensure to see. It’s a mix of genres and stories, but a consistently high level of talent, and we really hope that you check them all out.
Director: Laura O’Shea, Producer: Caroline Harvey, Written By: Caroline Harvey, Charleine Bailey, Starring: Caroline Harvey, Charleine Bailey
Adapted from the memoir of the same name by Shane Dunphy, the film is a look into social work in Ireland that hits with realism and emotion. Director Laura O’Shea is among this year’s Discovery Award nods and her empathetic eye brings us into the character’s world, which follow’s social care worker Marie’s first day on the job. Despite her optimism, she and colleague Annie’s house call to a family in crisis brings her right back to harsh reality. A well-crafted work with carefully compassionate performances from the actors.
Wednesday’s Child screens as part of DIFF Shorts I, Fri 24th Feb from 3.30pm at the Light House Cinema.
Director: Sinéad O’Loughlin, Producer: Lara Hickey, Written By: Sinéad O’Loughlin, Starring: Aoife Duffin, Éanna Hardwicke
Lamb had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival last year, picked up First Prize for Best Screenplay at the Rhodes Island International Film Festival and closer to home nabbed the Audience Award for Best Short Film in Cork International Film Festival. It’s success is no surprise, as the short pulls you in and leaves you on edge so quickly, simply and efficiently. A run-of-the-mill morning with a woman and her baby daughter takes a turn when a stranger walks into their isolated rural home. From the minute Éanna Hardwicke enters the frame and invites himself into Aoife Duffin’s home, the mood changes completely here, an imposing and unwelcome prescence who kicks off a grippingly sinister short. Another Discovery Award nominee, O’Loughlin presents an oppressive frame that’s open-ended, eerie and engrossing.
Lamb screens as part of DIFFs curation of Fís Éireann/Screen Ireland Shorts, Sat 25th Feb from 1.30pm at the Light House Cinema.
You’re Not Home
Director: Derek Ugochukwu Producer: Greg Burrowes Written By: Derek Ugochukwu Starring: Ashraf Tumuheirwe, Aaron Katambay
This one comes courtesy of ENGINE short film scheme, which supports up-and-coming talents in the Limerick/Clare/Tipperary region, and writer/director Derek Ugochukwu is undoubtedly rising rapidly. He brings a huge sense of dread here, capturing the hopeless air that hangs over Direct Provision centres and turning it up into full-on horror. When an ominous mould starts growing in their room, two asylum-seeking young brothers are faced with a dark entity, a hostile presence that permeates through their centre. Ugochukwu and producer Greg Burrowes, both up for the Discovery Award, deserve plenty of props for this frighteningly good effort.
You’re Not Home screens as part of DIFF Shorts II, Mon 27th Feb from 6pm at the Light House Cinema.
Director: Natasha Waugh Producer: Natalie McAuley Written By: Jonathan Hughes Starring: Peter McGann, Eloisa Etxebarria
A sweet short that perfectly mixes mirth and melancholy. Comedian Peter McGann (this film’s Discovery Award pick) brings a sensitive side to a ridiculous character, a wannabe park ranger who discovers an elderly Spanish lady at a freshly dug grave. He thinks his chance to crack a real case has finally arrived, but waiting on the real authorities to arrive brings Paddy and Pilar together despite the language barrier. Another supported short, La Tumba was made with the aid of dlr ‘First Frames’ sceheme, which supports filmmakers in making vibrant and compelling films and to increase awareness of the variety and flexibility of locations available in the region, funded by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council’s and managed by IADT. Writer Jonathan Hughes and director Natasha Waugh use a delightful sense of humour to lower the audience’s guard before hitting hard with heart.
La Tumba screens as part of DIFF Shorts III, Tue 28th Feb from 3pm at the Light House Cinema.
Tickets for DIFF23 are available now.