USUALLY it’s what appears on the big screen that makes a film festival stand out. Well things are a little bit different at the OFFline Film Festival happening in Birr from October 12 - October 16 ... A neo-Classical temple like hall, a Pugin designed Convent converted into a library, a Victorian theatre, a Georgian outhouse converted into a studio as well as a nearly 200 year old bar are just some of the venues that will host screenings at this year’s festival. But perhaps the most intriguing venue of all is the Inflatable Cinema that will play host to a screening of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (among other films) from Friday October 14 to Sunday October 16. Complete with costume bedecked usher, the cinema holds a maximum of 30 punters and tickets are already selling out fast.
“When we saw photographs of the Inflatable Cinema we knew immediately that it would be a perfect match for our festival,” director Gary Hoctor comments. “Birr is a planned Georgian town and it’s hard to find a building that doesn’t have some architectural character or significance - so all of our venues are a little bit unique. The uniqueness of the Inflatable Cinema - despite it being new and shiny and...bouncy fits right in with the character of our festival and its events.”
When asked whether these unusual surroundings might distract the audience’s attention from what they should be watching on screen, Mr. Hoctor is quick to point out that such venues can actually enhance the pleasure that the viewer gets from watching a film.
“We can’t offer the viewer the large, multiplex, shopping-centre cinema experience so we try to build on our strengths. One of these strengths is the built heritage around us. Another of our strengths is the large number of volunteers that are willing to act or crew in our filmmaking competition. All of these things count when people are deciding whether to come to your festival.”
Having made a solid entry to the festival calendar in 2010, it looks like OFFline is here to stay in 2011 and beyond. The only puzzle that now remains is which venue to attend?
More information: www.offlinefilmfestival.com; facebook.com/offlinefilm; Phone: (085) 238 9416.