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The 20th anniversary Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival kicked off on Wednesday with a gala screening of the celebrated Irish language feature An Cailín Ciúin (The Quiet Girl).

Straight from its world premiere at Berlin Film Festival, where it won grand prix of the Generation Kplus International Jury for best film, and received a special mention from the children’s jury at the festival. Director Colm Bairéad attended with producer Cleona Ní Chrualaoi who were joined by cast members Andrew Bennett, Carrie Crowley and 12 year old Catherine Clinch who plays the eponymous girl in the movie.

The achingly beautiful An Cailín Ciúin is the feature debut from writer/director, Colm Bairéad, based on the acclaimed story, Foster by Claire Keegan. Set in 1981 rural Ireland, it tells the story of a quiet, neglected girl sent away from her overcrowded, dysfunctional family to live with foster parents for the summer. She blossoms in their care, but in this house where there are meant to be no secrets, she discovers one painful truth.

Speaking at the festival opening Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin T.D. said: “I would like to congratulate all involved with the Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival on their 20th anniversary. It is such an exciting time for the industry at the moment, especially with the recent success of the Irish language feature An Cailín Ciúin in Berlin. The fact that the film is in our native language makes the award all the more special.  This achievement also represents the importance of supporting our film industry.”

“This production was made possible through public funding from Section 481 film tax relief, as well as from Screen Ireland, Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and TG4. The Irish screen production industry is building a reputation for high quality production across the world,” added Martin. “Our people, landscape, and creative talent are combining with a supportive economic and cultural environment to provide Ireland with a major competitive advantage that is attracting significant investment from overseas.”

For the next 11 days the hybrid in-person and online festival will host a packed programme of features, documentaries, shorts and special events, bringing the joy of in-person cinema to audiences, alongside selected at-home screenings and virtual events. 

Gráinne Humphreys, Festival Director added: “I’m so honoured to open the festival with the beautiful, heart-breaking An Cailín Ciúin in our first festival back in the cinemas. I must acknowledge the support of all our partners and especially venues who have helped us to bring the programme together. I have a thousand people to thank but on opening night I will focus on just three key groups,  the wonderful festival team, the incredible filmmakers whose work we celebrate and the audiences who have already signed up in great numbers to share this year’s event.”

At an event held in The Merrion Hotel earlier in the day, Minister Catherine Martin T.D. presented the Festival’s prestigious career achievement award, the Volta, to Academy Award winning writer-director-producer Adam McKay in recognition of his impressive body of work and outstanding contribution to film.

“I could not be more thrilled to have made it back to Ireland to join Minister Martin and festival director Gráinne Humphreys in person,” said McKay. “The passion for film and the arts at Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival and here in Ireland never mind the incredible Irish warmth and hospitality is second to none.”

Read our interview with Oscar winning writer/director Adam McKay discussing his Best Picture nominated satirical comedy Don’t Look Up.

Other highlights for the first week of the festival include: the world premiere of the vital Vicky, Sasha King’s exclusive and intimate journey into Vicky Phelan’s fight to expose the truth of what happened in the Cervical Check Scandal for all women but also her own personal fight to stay alive; the Irish premiere of Kate Dolan’s highly anticipated debut feature creepy and unsettling chiller You Are Not My Mother on Thursday 24th; composer and pianist Neil Brand’s live accompanied presentation of Laurel and Hardy, and Conor McMahon’s comedic vampire horror Let the Wrong One In on Saturday 26th .

The Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival runs until March 6 in cinemas with a selection of films also available online. All Festival screenings and events will adhere to government guidelines and Covid safety regulations. 

Click here for more information about the Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival.

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