The festival opens Feb 19 with Australian feature Jindabyne, starring Gabriel Byrne who will be present for the screening and will take part in a public interview with the festival's outgoing director, Michael Dwyer. The festival closes Feb 25 with Tom Hunsinger and Neil Hunter's British ensemble comedy-drama, Sparkle.
Among the many other guests expected at the festival are Ed Burns and his wife Christy Turlington who will attend a mid-week gala screening of his latest film, The Groomsmen. Norman Jewison will attend and give a directing masterclass. UK producer Jeremy Thomas is the subject of a major retrospective and will be present at a screening of Fast Food Nation. Shane Meadows will attend a screening of This is England and acting legend Leslie Phillips will attend a screening of the Oscar-nominated Venus in which he stars opposite Peter O'Toole.
Canadian actor/director Sarah Polley will present her directorial debut Away From Her, part of a strong Canadian strand in the programme, as well as attending a screening of Isabel Coixet's The Secret Life of Words in which she stars, and much of which was filmed in Northern Ireland.
Other Irish films programmed include Niall Heery's debut Small Engine Repair; Robert Quinn's Irish-language feature Cre na Cille; Liam O Mochain's low-budget drama, WC, about the lives of two toilet attendants, and the UK/Ireland co-production, True North, about trawlermen who ship illegal aliens to make ends meet.
There is Irish-interest too in the extensive documentary section with Irish production or subject credits in Joe Strummer:The Future is Unwritten, Deliver Us from Evil, Neil Jordan - Portrait, the anti-environmentalist Mine Your Own Business, and a documentary about the US-based Irish band, The Thrills.
Among the 109 features being screened there are gala screenings of Steven Soderbergh's The Good German; Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's German hit, The Lives of Others; Patrice Leconte's latest film My Best Friend; a screening of the German expressionist masterpiece Metropolis, with live music; Danny Boyle's apocalyptic Sunshine, starring Cillian Murphy; Zhang Yimou's Curse Of The Golden Flower; Woody Allen's Scoop; and, billed as the Festival Discovery, Ali Selim's American indie, Sweet Land, about a German mail-order bride in post-WWI Minnesota.
This year the festival inaugurates its own award, the Volta, to celebrate individuals who have made significant contributions to the world of film. The recipients are chosen at the discretion of the festival's board of directors. The awards are named after Ireland's first dedicated cinema, the Volta, which was opened in Dublin in 1909 by James Joyce. The first four Voltas will be presented at events during the 2007 festival.