The all-new Lights Out! film festival is a chance for young film buffs to get closer to the art of film-making, writes Michael Dwyer
IRELAND’S NEW national film festival for young people, Lights Out!, opens at the IFI in Dublin on July 12th and runs for eight days. Selected films and workshops from the programme will go on tour to Dundalk, Ennis, Kilkenny, Moate, Youghal and three Co Leitrim locations, Ballinamore, Carrick-on-Shannon and Manorhamilton.
The festival is designed for audiences aged from five to 16, and the catalogue grades each film in terms of suitability for different age groups.
The opening presentation is The Fox and the Child (Le Renard et l’Enfant), the new adventure from March of the Penguins director Luc Jacquet. It draws together two redheads – a fox and a young girl – for what is described as “a magical, life-changing encounter”. The film has already registered more than two million admissions in France.
The closing film in Dublin on July 19th is The Black Balloon, an Australian coming-ofage drama written and directed by Elissa Down. It features Home and Away veteran Rhys Wakefield as a 16-year-old student put in charge of his autistic older brother (Luke Ford) when their family moves to a new town and their mother (Toni Collette) is pregnant.
The title character in Belgian director Nic Balthazar’s well-regarded Ben X is a young man (Greg Timmerman) living with Asperger’s Syndrome. Bullied at school, he retreats into his own world, playing an online computer game in which he acts heroically.
Adolescence is a recurring theme on the festival programme, and addressed in an Irish context in writer-director Marian Quinn’s Dublin-set first feature film, 32A. The title does not refer to a bus route but to the bra size of the movie’s 13-year-old protagonist (Ailish McCarthy). The adult cast includes Orla Brady, Jared Harris, Kate O’Toole and the director’s brother, Aidan Quinn.
Gifted English director Shane Meadows reunites with Thomas Turgoose, the remarkable young leading actor of his previous film, This is England, for Somers Town. Turgoose plays a runaway boy who arrives in London and has a chance encounter with a bored Polish teen (Pitor Jagiello) that leads to them pursuing money-making scams.
The second feature film from 19-year-old Iranian director Hana Makhmalbaf, Buddha Collapsed Out of Shame is set in Afghanistan when a six-year-old girl insists on getting an education. In this pointed parable, she is harassed by boys playing games in which they play Taliban roles.
The new film from Kung Fu Hustle director Stephen Chow, CJ7, features Chow as a poor Chinese construction worker struggling to provide for himself and his young son. He finds what he thinks is a toy but is, in fact, an alien creature with regenerative powers.
The line-up also includes the engaging, recently released Son of Rambow; Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki’s 1988 animated marvel My Neighbour Totoro; and a compilation of classic 1940s cartoons directed by such maestros as Tex Avery and Chuck Jones.
A panel of 18 young consultants selected two programmes of short films for the festival, one for viewers aged six and over, the other for the 15-plus age group.
Workshops will cover a five-day practical film-making course with Filmbase, telling a short story through television drama, creating animation flickbooks, performing for the camera, and using make-up to create special effects.
A scene from CJ7, the new film from Kung Fu Hustle director Stephen Chow