Dazzling debuts at Dublin International Film Festival 2022

Khushi Jain highlights two debut screenings for this year’s hybrid-style International Film Festival

Dublin International Film Festival 2022 has a stellar line up of over a 100  films from 19  countries, which festival Director Gráinne Humphreys has managed to compress into a span of 12 days. Scheduled to run from February 23 to March 6, it will run on a hybrid model with online as well as in-person screenings. This year will feature an especially fascinating collection of coming-of-age stories. Documentaries like Young Plato and Futura move into classrooms and take the streets, tackling the big questions of life in youth. But there are two films that capture the tediousness of growing up with a particular raw delicacy. 

“The camera softens as it follows her gaze, poignantly lingering on spaces even after characters have left them.”

Words fall easily to their knees; it is in silence that powerful emotions bloom. The Quiet Girl is about Cáit (Catherine Clinch), a nine-year-old girl who envelops herself in these very silences, “many a person missed the opportunity to say nothing and lost much because of it.” Cáit is sent to live with foster parents for the summer and the film focuses on her movement from a stale, callous and tired domesticity to a loving and stable one. Based on Claire Keegan’s short story Foster, this is Cáit’s fragile coming-of-age. The camera softens as it follows her gaze, poignantly lingering on spaces even after characters have left them. Incorporating the concept of rememory, the film breathes life into the lifeless, be it sunlight on the kitchen floor or the wallpaper of the bedroom. The tenderness with which Colm Bairéad tells this story of family, love and grief is sure to leave eyes soaked, and hearts sobbing.

“Murina certainly marks a sparkling blue debut for Antoneta Alamat Kusijanović.”

Murina, the other piece of interest, takes place on the breathtakingly beautiful coastal seascape of Croatia and unfolds as a family drama of abuse, misogyny and freedom. At the film’s epicentre is Julija (Gracija Filipovic), who belongs more to the sea than to the land. Reckless and ripe for womanhood, she bears her father’s autocracy and mother’s perceived passivity. This already troubled familial triad is further agitated by the arrival of an old friend, creating a domestic storm of disturbing proportions. The film is steeped in symbolism. It collapses the vast sublime of the ocean with individual ambitions and anxieties, to produce a naked and intimate narrative. Julija spends almost the entire film in a swimsuit, remaining incessantly tethered to the sea. It is a treat watching Filipovic bring her to life with such authenticity. Murina certainly marks a sparkling blue debut for Antoneta Alamat Kusijanović. 

The Quiet Girl became the first Irish language film to have its world premiere at Berlinale where it also won the Grand Prix for best film. It is set to open for Dublin International Film Festival on February 23. Murina has similarly been bagging its fair share of awards including the highly coveted Caméra d’Or at Cannes 2021. It will be screened both in person and online on February the 28th.