The Irish Film Centre, which comprises Dublin's only Arthouse
Cinema, the Irish Film Archive
, a pub/restaurant, a film-related book and video/dvd store, and the offices of eight film-related organisations, including a film education
programme, is a semi state-funded
organisation which exhibits and promotes film, particularly arthouse and foreign-language film, in Dublin
. Indeed the importance of the centre as a national cultural resource has been highlighted by its comparitively recent change in title and branding
, from the Irish Film Centre to the Irish Film Institute
in Autumn 2003
The building in which the Irish Film Centre/Institute is housed is one of the most architecturally beautiful cinemas I've ever had the pleasure to attend. The building was originally a Quaker Meeting House, built in 1692, but was purchased by the Irish Film Institute in 1987, who commissioned a firm of architects (O'Donnell & Toumey architects) to develop the 1690's building into the state-of-the-art cinema & cultural-centre it is today. The Irish Film Centre was conceived primarily for the irish Film Institute's three main areas of operation - exhibition, education & preservation of a film archive. The architects had to incorporate all of these diverse elements into one building in their development plans.
The building is located in the heart of Dublin's city centre, in the city's "cultural quarter" in Temple Bar. The building is 1800m2 in total. Architecturally, one of the most impressive feature about the building is the glazed courtyard which spills light and warmth into the centre of the impressive high-ceilinged building. The architects glazed over the original courtyard separating the huge street-facing building, from the smaller building at the rear. Thus the walls in the interior courtyard (which houses the foyer, and ticket & membership desks) are all exposed brickwork from the former sand-coloured brick exteriors, and are quite beautiful. The floor of the long corridor which leads from the street, through to the interior courtyard is made up of illuminated, under-lit, perspex squares, which form a long film-strip, leading from the street to the main foyer.
There are two cinema screens in the complex, Screen 1, the larger, ground floor screen, seats 258. The smaller Screen 2, situated on the first floor, seats 104. Both cinemas have recently been refurbished with plush new seating, and Dolby digital stereo surround sound. Projection facilities are available in both cinemas for a variety of formats; and whilst the majority of screenings are taken from 35mm prints, 16mm, video, and DVD projection can also be catered for. A lift was recently installed in the complex to ensure that both cinema screens are fully wheelchair-accessible.
One of the unusual features of Screen One is that there are two doors halfway up the high walls of the cinema, where the architects knocked through the ceiling of the first floor to create one large room that stretches up through what was originally two floors, making an unusual design-feature of the original (now floating) first-floor doorways.
The Irish Film Centre/Institute works on the basis that it is a private film club. This is a clever way of overcoming Irish exhibition and censorship laws. Many Arthouse and foreign-language films will not yet have been seen or passed through the office of the Irish Film Censor, and therefore will not yet have been awarded a public-viewing rating. In order to legally screen these films, the Irish Film Centre must act on the basis that it is a private film club, with screenings restricted to members only. Membership of the Irish Film Centre requires that all members be over eighteen years of age. Individuals can purchase membership on a daily basis for an individual film (at a cost of an additional 1 Euro to the price of the admission ticket), or annual membership (at a cost of 20 Euro). Annual membership, while entitling the member & up to three guests to purchase tickets for any IFI screening, will also entitle the member to a 10% discount in the bookshop & restaurant, and the bi-monthly programme posted direct to their home address every two months.
The Irish Film Institute often works in association with local foreign and cultural institutes to promote European and world cinema to local audiences through the holding of and promotion of different cultural film-festivals; For example, for over ten years the IFI has been holding an annual French Film Festival in association with Alliance Francaise and the French Embassy in Dublin. There are also regular film screenings associated with the Goethe Institute and various other foreign embassies. The IFI also hosts an annual Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, a Halloween "Horrorthon", as well as screening retrospectives on the work of many major international directors and filmmakers (previous retrospectives have included the works of such directors as Abbas Kiarostami, Wong Kar-wai, Akira Kurosawa, Richard Linklater, David Lynch, and Ingmar Bergman, to name but a few) They also run educational film courses in national and genre filmmaking (Italian Cinema, German Cinema, Film Noir, etc.), they also run short film screening events and many premieres of new Irish films.
The Irish Film Centre was officially opened on the September 25th, 1992, at a total cost of IR£2.2 million (2.15million Euro). The centre celebrates its birthday on the 25th September every year with an Open Day, with a special programme of free screenings for the entire day. It is always a great day and very well attended.
See also: Irish Film Institute.