Stargazing in Dublin: A Taster for the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival
Alongside the film offerings, The Jameson Dublin International Film Festival will be hosting an exhibition of film photographs curated by Sheamus Smith (Ireland’s Film Classifier 1986-2003) from a variety of archive sources (including his own collection). The festival organisers have taken over empty shop units on the top floor of Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre for the starry exhibition, which will run throughout February.
Smith took photographs of visiting film stars as a young press photographer back in the 1950s. It must all seem a long time ago to him now but the magic of the Hollywood stars lingers on in these pictures. Sheamus Smith wrote in the introduction to the JDIFF brochure that ‘Since my earliest childhood memories of the cinema in my home town of Ballaghaderreen, the big screen has played a major part in my life and career’. He was invited by Gráinne Humphreys, the director of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival to put together the celebratory exhibition that complements the film festival.
The shots of star visitors to Dublin are a veritable cinematic who’s who of the past sixty years: James Cagney, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly and Elizabeth Taylor to name but a few. It is true that the exhibition also includes such modern stars as Colin Farrell, U2 and Colin Firth. For me however, the golden oldies of the silver screen oozed star quality that today’s celebrities have not yet acquired.
The pictures are great as a trawl through cinema history but they also offer snippets of social history too. There is a lovely picture of Jimmy Stewart (one of my all time favourites stars) buying a newspaper from a street vendor on O’Connell Street. The photograph was dated ‘1960s’ and you can make out headlines about an attempted bank heist from the paper that Stewart is buying. There was also a picture of Laurel and Hardy visiting what looked like a children’s hospital in the 1950s. They were pictured with two young children on crutches and a nurse who just managed to get in the shot. I wonder whether the two small children knew who their film star visitors were.
I was amused by a shot of Michael Caine and Julie Walters who filmed Educating Rita at Trinity College. All you can see in the background is a rather large golfing umbrella and not a single glimpse of the historic buildings of TCD. Not one for the tourist posters perhaps, indicating as it does that they had a rather wet visit, but a lovely portrait of the actors nevertheless.
The exhibition is not a large one (around a hundred pictures in both colour and black and white) but it is well worth a look. Take a break from shopping or pay a lunchtime visit and pick up a festival brochure at the same time.
The exhibition continues until 26 February, in Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre.
The Jameson Dublin International Film Festival runs 16th – 26th February, various venues.