Festival History

An overview of the Festival history since its inception in 2003.

Since its inception the festival has prided itself on creating a unique forum of exchange between the public and the filmmaking community through hosting a whole range of events that allow the public to interact with filmmakers in the form of public interviews, panel discussions and Q&A sessions. 

Over 50 directors, actors and producers attend the festival each year to meet Irish filmmakers and audiences and discuss their work. An array of film talent has joined in with the celebration, including Daniel Day Lewis, Gabriel Byrne, Jim Sheridan, Patricia Clarkson, Kristin Scott Thomas, Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Tilda Swinton, Charlize Theron, Colin Firth, Al Pacino, Martin Sheen, Glen Close, Mark Wahlberg and Liam Neeson, among others, all of whom have graced the DIFF red carpet.  Audiences and industry members have been delighted to meet a widely diverse range of luminaries and gain insights into every area of the film world including perspectives from directors, producers, screenwriters and critics such as Mike Leigh, John Sayles, Quentin Tarantino, Martin McDonagh, Jeremy Thomas, Wim Wenders, Neil Gaiman, Jan Troell, Kenneth Anger, Jonas Mekas, Frederic Raphael, Todd McCarthy and Thierry Fremaux.

The Festival was established by Michael Dwyer, Chief Film Correspondent of The Irish Times, and film producer David McLoughlin to present an opportunity for Dublin's cinema-going audiences to experience the best in Irish and international cinema. "Dublin has remarkable film attendance per capita, among the highest in Europe, certainly the highest in the EU" Dwyer said in a 2003 interview. "It seems absurd that the city didn't have an international film festival."

2008 saw a significant change to the festival's executive with Gráinne Humphreys replacing Michael Dwyer as Festival Director and Joanne O'Hagan assuming the role, formerly held by Rory Concannon, of Chief Executive Officer.

Dublin International Film Festival in Numbers

  • The festival has screened over 1500 films since it first kicked off in 2003
  • International cinema has been profiled with seasons of films from Russia, Korea, Italy, France, Germany, Poland, Romania, Denmark, Latin America and Asia amongst others
  • A whopping 2700 volunteers have joined the festival since 2003 to help with every element of organisation, through from helping source a print to scanning tickets
  • The Festival can boast an impressive list of leading lights of the Silver Screen who have all come to Dublin: Colin Farrell, Tilda Swinton, Colin Firth, Jim Sheridan, John Sayles, Mike Leigh, Daniel Day Lewis, Patricia Clarkson, Kristin Scott Thomas, Paolo Sorrentino, Wim Wenders, Kenneth Anger, Jonas Mekas.

Surprise Film

2003 Buffalo Soldiers
2004 Starsky & Hutch
2005 The Squid & The Whale
2006 The Jacket
2007 300
2008 The Escapist
2009 Hamlet 2
2010 Greenberg
2011 Cedar Rapids
2012 This must be the Place, El Casa de Mi Padre
2013 Welcome to the Punch
2014 Muppets Most Wanted
2015 Good Kill
2016 Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot
2017 Get Out
2018 Unsane
2019 Dragged Across Concrete

Often met with laughs, whoops or groans, the Surprise Film has been a central part of the Festival since 2003.

Festival Venues

The festival is a city-wide event that takes place in select Dublin City Centre Cinemas including:

  • Cineworld, Parnell Street
  • Irish Film Institute, Eustace Street
  • Light House Cinema, Smithfield
  • Movies at Dundrum
  • Pavilion Theatre, Dun Laoghaire