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November at the Irish Film Institute (IFI)

This November, the Irish Film Institute (IFI) sees the much-awaited return of the IFI French Film Festival, running from Wednesday, November 13 to Sunday, November 24. Alongside the event’s 20th anniversary edition, the month also features new releases from Ken Loach and Martin Scorsese, and The Nightingale, the latest from The Babadook director Jennifer Kent.

Highlights of the IFI French Film Festival include opening movie Portrait of a Lady on Fire; four old classic features by writer-director Claude Sautet, and documentary Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché. In regards the latter, a selection of Guy-Blaché’s short films – a pioneering filmmaker of the early 20th century – will also screen throughout the festival ahead of features in the main programme.

Attending this year’s festival will be director-screenwriter-producer Cédric Klapisch for a Q&A following his film on romantic urban isolation Someone, Somewhere. Star of recent release Non-Fiction Vincent Macaigne will also appear at the event, taking part in a Q&A for movies Happy Birthday and Pure as Snow. Meanwhile, spotlighting the French female rock scene, co-screenwriter of Oh, les filles, Bayon, will participate in a Q&A following his doc.

Other much-anticipated titles include Farewell to the Night, which sees Catherine Deneuve (also in Happy Birthday) play a grandmother frantically trying to stop her grandson-turned-Islamic fundamentalist travelling to Syria. Meanwhile gripping courtroom drama The Girl with a Bracelet follows the trial of 18-year-old Lise, accused of killing her best friend.

Amongst the acclaimed comedies in the festival are Louis-Julien Petit’s Invisibles, following social workers at a homeless shelter; Manele Labidi Labbé’s French-Tunisian Arab Blues; Xavier Dolan’s coming-of-age Matthias and Maxime; Christophe Honoré’s inventive On a Magical Night; and Nicolas Bedos’s La Belle Époque, a time-travel romance starring Daniel Auteuil and Fanny Ardant.

Also opening in November is Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman starring Robert de Niro, Joe Pesci, and Al Pacino in his first role for the legendary director. Critics say the film is more than a celebration of its instant-classic cast and that it is surprising and epic. From the gangster narrative to exploring crime on an everyday level, Ken Loach’s Sorry We Missed You promises more searing social realism from the British filmmaker.

Further new releases in November include Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story, in which the writer-director (The Squid and the Whale) returns to the subject of divorce with Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver in the lead roles. Driver also stars in political drama The Report. There he plays the leader of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation into the CIA’s interrogation techniques.

The Two Popes follows a series of imagined meetings in 2012 between Pope Benedict XVI (Anthony Hopkins) and Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio (Jonathan Pryce) and is released on Friday 29. Also opening that day is The Nightingale, a thriller set in 1825 starring Irish actress Aisling Franciosi.

Documentaries showing at the IFI in November include Hoop Dreams, screening in celebration of its 25th anniversary; Marco Porsio’s Where Does a Body End?, which follows American experimental rock band Swans and their rise to fame in no-wave New York in the 1980s; and Werner Herzog’s new Meeting Gorbachev, which showcases Herzog’s investigative style with an intimate portrait of the man who served as General Secretary of the Soviet Union from 1985-1991.

Following sold-out events at September’s IFI Documentary Festival, PJ Harvey and Seamus Murphy collaboration A Dog Called Money and Benjamin Berman’s metatextual The Amazing Johnathan Documentary also return to IFI’s screens.

In line with a month of international cinema and music documentaries, November’s Irish Focus pick is Down Claiborne, screening Thursday 7 at 18:30. In the doc, Irish film artist Moira Tierney investigates the artistic traditions of Mardi Gras Indians in Tremé, New Orleans. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with Tierney, hosted by Dr Paula Gilligan of IADT.

Other special screenings include the monthly Bigger Picture strand with Brian De Palma’s 1981 neo-noir Blow Out, selected and introduced by Brian Lloyd, Movies Editor at entertainment.ie. Meanwhile, the From The Vaults this month is Tony Luraschi’s 1980 Northern Irish drama The Outsider. Screening Monday 25 at 18:00, this 40th anniversary showing will be followed by a Q&A with Luraschi.

Tickets for the IFI French Film Festival are available from www.ifi.ie/frenchfest. A range of multi-film passes can also be purchased directly from the IFI Box Office.

Tickets for all other special events are on sale now from the IFI Box Office on (01) 6793477 and from www.ifi.ie.

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