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A hard-hitting short film recently released offers a sobering response to the 2018 Papal visit to Ireland. God Given Opportunity is a short film by Anne Marie Kelly, made in response to the Papel visit to Ireland in 2018 and Kelly’s experience at the Stand 4 Truth demonstration which coincided with Pope Francis’ mass in the Phoenix Park.

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artwork by Amy Lauren McGrath

It has, somehow, been a year. And while this year hasn’t allowed us to seek refuge in front of the big screen as often as we might like, and though many of the most anticipated releases of the last twelve months have been deferred to 202-dot-dot-dot-question-mark, we still have been able to enjoy some truly exceptional films at a time when we really needed them. Using Irish release dates, the Film In Dublin team have come together to pick out ten of the best of 2020. Films that helped us to escape. Films that served as a funnel to feel through *all this*. Films with pet hyenas in them. So a broad spectrum as always.

What films made your own personal Best of 2020 list? As ever, we’d love to hear from you. Leave us a comment below or hit us up on Twitter and Instagram and let us know what movies moved you over the last year, and let us know what you make of the list below.

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From ‘what is Rosebud?’ to ‘what is the Matrix?’, film has a long tradition of using compelling questions to hook in audiences. An air of fascination and mystery, well harnessed, can be as strong a pull into theatre seats as any dazzling movie star or cutting-edge technology. But in our modern world, where more jaded viewers can have most of their questions answered at the press of a button – correctly or otherwise – and where the sheer saturation of information at all times means we are up to speed with all major media whether we ever intend to watch it or not, a new question is increasingly successful at hooking in potential movie viewers:


“What the fuck was that?”

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In Direct Line, Film In Dublin cuts to the chase, asking 20 questions of Ireland’s directors to get a brief look into their outlooks, influences and inspirations.

An award-winning actor, writer, director, and producer, Maureen O’Connell is a recognisable name to anyone with an eye on the Irish film scene. Her short films, wide ranging comedies like Meitherhood or the 1916-themed Proclaim! are regular selections for any solid Irish festival programme. More recently, the director’s comedy feature Spa Weekend has been a hit at festivals home and abroad, screening in British and Irish festivals and last year winning the ‘She Is On Fire’ Award at the Female Filmmakers Festival in Berlin.

Keeping that fire lit, Maureen O’Connell is now organising the first Dublin International Comedy Film Festival. Taking place online from December 3rd and 4th, the festival promises to offer some much-needed winter levity with a selection of short and feature films.

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A Halloween spent in lockdown is the perfect time to feast upon the quintessential horror classics that we all love to fear. Whether it’s the head spinning experience of re-watching The Exorcist or binge watching the good, the bad, and the very ugliest of the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, we all know how to tell a safe bet from a dodgy Netflix choice just as well as we can tell a good piece of chocolate from an unwanted apple in a trick or treat bag.


But what about the films that have slipped through the cracks? There are many reasons why certain horror films haven’t received the attention they deserve. A lack of advertising, coming out at the wrong time of the year, or maybe because for lots of cinema goers one or two scary films a year is more than enough. For the films on this list however, the reason why you’ve probably never seen them has nothing to do with their quality. These are some of the lesser known but  better placed fright fests to satiate your Halloween sweet tooth on this spooky stay at home weekend. This list is not to be confused with an “underrated horror films” selection. That’s an interesting but separate discussion. The films on this list were generally well received critically, but they unfortunately just never seemed to get the reach that they deserved. So sit back, relax, and prepare to be bombarded with a universe of existential horror you probably haven’t yet heard about.

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The Cineworld cinema chain is set to close all Ireland and UK sites. The Cineworld Dublin cinema on Parnell Street in Dublin city centre had already been closed due to Government restrictions in the county but will nowgo into an indefinite closure along with all UK and many US based venues owned by the company. In the UK, Cineworld is understood to have writen to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden describing the exhibition sector as “unviable” due to studios delaying tentpole releases such as the latest James Bond film: a result of enforced local closures and audiences steering clear of cinemas during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Cineworld closures will put up to 5,500 jobs at risk in the UK and Ireland.

Cineworld has not given any further information on when its cinemas may reopen, however they could remain closed until 2021. Cineworld CEO Mooky Greidinger has said, “We did everything in our power to support safe and sustainable reopenings in all of our markets.”

The UK-based Cineworld Action Group, formed in March in response to staff mistreatment following the initial closure of cinemas as a result of Covid-19, have criticised the company’s lack of communication with staff throughout the pandemic, including consistently receiving news about their jobs via the press and social media.

The Parnell Street cinema location, which has changed hands between cinema chains on several occasions since first opening in 1995, became Dublin’s first IMAX cinema location in 1998. Due to its size and IMAX screen it has frequently been a venue for film premieres and the Dublin International Film Festival, while films from Poland, India and other countries screened in the cinema frequently sell out and hold firm in the Irish box office rankings, as Dublin-based international film fans take the opportunity to reconnect with their local culture. While its potentially permanent loss would be sad for the city, the priority concern is unquestionably the staff who have been left in limbo.

Film In Dublin spoke to a member of staff from the Dublin branch to receive their account of communications with the company over the last six months and their position following the confirmed closure. The staff member agreed to interview on condition of anonymity.

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Writer and trans rights activist Aoife Martin is an ardent film fan. She has written about trans representation on screen for CinÉireann magazine, recorded guest spots on the 250 Podcast and now will serve on the Jury for the 2020 edition of the GAZE LGBTQ+ Film Festival. Alongside writer Chandrika Narayanan-Mohan, performance artist Stephen Quinn and director Katie McNeice will be going through the selection of films on show during the festival, beginning today and running through to the 4th October, to select the GAZE Film Awards; picking out the Spirit of GAZE Award, Best International and Irish Shorts and Best Documentary to celebrate the best and brightest of Irish and international LGBTQ+ stories at GAZE 2020  


Ahead of the film festival, Film In Dublin spoke to Aoife about her Movie Memories, early favourites, the importance of telling trans stories on screen and the power of cinema to bring us closer together.  

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One of the best things about the raging success of Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite is the potential knock on effect it might have. People who would never ordinarily pay their money to see a subtitled film were doing so, as the critical acclaim drove Parasite into mainstream chain cinemas. This was significant, as such pictures are usually reserved for releases in art house theatres, and although the audiences who usually see them are loyal, they often come in significantly smaller quantities. As an unfortunate but understandable consequence, there can be difficulties associated with getting the right funding to bring international features to Western audiences, on the basis that the people who make the commercial decisions have the “one inch barrier of subtitles” in the back of their minds when sanctioning off projects. Memories of Murder is a reason why the above circumstances are a real shame. While there are always occasions when  directors make their best films early on, Bong Joon Ho’s mystery crime thriller is an example of how many films crawl so others can walk.

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The current climate is one with a lot of uncertainty for us all, but it poses particular challenges for independent filmmakers. The already considerable difficulties of producing a film without grants or studio assistance takes on a whole new dimension when it comes to the new ground of actually getting your film released during increasingly long “strange times”.

One such film striving to get in front of audiences at this time if Irish indie feature Be Good or Be Gone. An entirely self-financed film from pre-production to post, this Dublin-set story is currently aiming for a theatrical release, and is set to screen soon for an Irish premiere at the Dublin Underground Film Festival.

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For years the Carlow Arts Festival has aimed to create a vibrant community in the Midlands fostering creativity, collaboration, innovation, participation, inclusion, diversity, and passion, but the Covid-19 Pandemic ensured that they were one of many endeavours in the arts who were forced to rethink their approach in 2020.

One of their efforts throughout the last month has been their Virtual Reality Cinema programme, which offered viewers the opportunity to replicate the experience of 360 degree filmmaking from the safety of their own home.

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