It’s Christmas time for movie lovers, as the annual Audi Dublin International Film Festival (ADIFF) rolls into town. As usual the team behind the festival have pulled out all the stops and put together a world beating program of film with something for everyone. This year there are dozens of celebrities and film-makers jetting into town, so many that your fanciest clothes are going to be worn out! This year’s guests include Vanessa Redgrave, Nathalie Baye, Kerry Fox, Ross Noble, Ben Wheatley, and Anna Friel joining top Irish talent Jack Reynor, Moe Dunford, Cillian Murphy, John Butler and Aiden Gillen… yes your selfie arm is going to be exhausted! The Gala Opening Night of ADIFF 2017 will be the Irish Premiere of Maudie, the internationally acclaimed biopic of folk artist Maud Lewis by award-winning Irish director Aisling Walsh (Song for a Raggy Boy) and starring Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke. Jim Sheridan’s The Secret Scripture, adapted from the award-winning novel by Sebastian Barry, will receive a Gala Irish Premiere and see ADIFF present a Volta Award to Vanessa Redgrave. The Volta Award is the Festival’s most prestigious honour, reserved for those who have made an outstanding contribution to the world of film. Top Irish talent Jack Reynor, Cillian Murphy and Ben Wheatley will attend the Audi Gala screening of Wheatley’s new film Free Fire. ADIFF’s new Centrepiece Gala will be Neasa Ní Chianán and David Rane’s In Loco Parentis documentary study of the Headfort School. Key Irish premieres include Juanita Wilson’s new film Tomato Red with Anna Friel in attendance and Alan Gilsenan’s Unless featuring Catherine Keener; Dennis Bartok’s terrifying hospital horror Nails; and Aiden Gillen and Jamie Thraves’ Pickups that features Gillen playing a semi-fictionalised version of himself, a troubled actor weighing the price of success. The Arts Council and ADIFF’s Reel Art documentary commissions receive their World Premieres at the Irish Film Institute. Ken Wardrop (His & Hers) brings his characteristic warmth and humanity to piano grade exams in The Piano Lesson while John Murray and Traolach Ó Murchú’s Photo City delves into the celluloid history of Rochester, NY. Rounding up a stellar festival at ADIFF’s prestigious Closing Night Gala is the Irish premiere of Handsome Devil, John Butler’s (The Stag) new comedy-drama set in an Irish boarding school. International Programme Three international screen actors, Nathalie Baye, Kerry Fox and François Cluzet, will attend the festival, each giving tour-de-force performances that build on already remarkable careers. French screen icon Baye becomes the target of a dangerous obsession in Moka; New Zealander Fox features as the uncompromising acting teacher in The Rehearsal and gives us a welcome look back at her stunning performance in Jane Campion’s An Angel at My Table; and known internationally for his performance in international hit The Intouchables, this year Cluzet stars in stylish paranoia thriller Scribe. From Bhutan to New Zealand, Seoul to Senegal, Nova Scotia to Manila – ADIFF’s world cinema programme feature films from over 35 countries including vital new films from established auteurs to the Festival including Olivier Assayas, Pablo Larraín, Michael Winterbottom, Aki Kaurismäki, Ben Wheatley, Asghar Farhadi, Cristian Mungiu, Lone Scherfig and Terence Davies. In 2011, Iko Uwais’ flying fists and lightning-fast feet in The Raid hailed a new hero of action cinema. Now Uwais returns as the hero of Headshot (an ADIFF Special Presentation) bringing his astounding fighting skills to this tale of amnesia and revenge. First-time Directors This year’s programme is remarkable for its extraordinary new international voices making their feature debuts. Juho Kuosmanen uplifting Oscar-tipped boxing biopic The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki, Ben Young’s Australian kidnap nightmare Hounds of Love, noted British director William Oldroyd’s Lady Macbeth, Daouda Coulibaly’s thrilling West African crime thriller Wùlu are all highlights of the festival made from international first-time directors while Irish director Lorcan Finnegan’s deeply creepy walk in the woods, eco-horror Without Name, equally marks him out as a talent to watch closely in years to come. The world has tilted on its axis in the past year and there’s a thread of black comedy running through many of 2017’s offerings, with the frustration and unease relieved through acerbic and bitter humour – not least in the title of Dash Shaw’s My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea! but also in Sean Foley’s Mindhorn with Ross Noble in attendance, Anna Biller’s future cult favourite Love Witch, and Kris Avedisian’s fine comedy of discomfort Donald Cried. Fantastic Flix The Festival’s expanding Fantastic Flix programme brings the world of cinema to the next generation in its packed festival of children’s films from around the globe, workshops, short film selections, the Fantastic Flix Children’s Jury and special events. Highlights include a special selection of films from visiting children’s author Dame Jacqueline Wilson, along with the Golden Globe-nominated animated film My Life as a Courgette, and Michaël Dudok de Wit’s The Red Turtle. Awards Alongside the Volta Awards that recognise outstanding achievement, the ADIFF Discovery Award sees the festival reward emerging Irish talent; the Dublin Film Critics Circle Jury selects the best of the festival for their awards ceremony; and filmgoers themselves select their favourite with the AUDI-ence award. The AUDI-ence award-winning filmmakers will be flown to the Berlin International Film Festival in 2018, where they will enjoy a true VIP Audi experience. Speaking about this years line-up the festival mastermind Grainne Humphreys said ‘I’m thrilled with the selection of films that we are bringing to Dublin for the Audi Dublin International Film Festival 2017 that not only showcases some of the biggest names in world cinema but features a selection of first time directors from across the globe who will make a serious impression with our audience in this and in coming years. To be able to include new Irish films from Aisling Walsh, Jim Sheridan, Emer Reynolds, Aiden Gillen, John Butler, Neasa Ní Chianán, Juanita Wilson and Ken Wardrop as just some of the Irish filmmakers in the festival is an extraordinary testament to the current strength and depth of the Irish film industry. I hope that as many Dubliners as possible take this chance to explore and celebrate the art of film – the festival is open to everyone.’ Tickets are on sale now and the digital programme will be available to browse and download from 6.30pm on 18th Jan at www.diff.ie. Tickets are available by phone on +353 1 687 7974 or in person at DIFF, 13 Ormond Quay from 10am Thurs 19th Jan.