Seasons & Special Events




The term film maudit, the ‘cursed film’, has its origins in a 1949 festival curated by, amongst others, Jean Cocteau, André Bazin, Robert Bresson, René Clément, and Henri Langlois. The purpose of the festival was to celebrate films that had been unfairly maligned or overlooked on their original release, and included films such as Jean Vigo’s L’Atalante, Luchino Visconti’s Ossessione, and Jacques Tati’s Jour de fête, all of which have now achieved the status of canon.

In the years since, the term has come to be used in a much broader sense, often applied more to films which have suffered a troubled production history, regardless of their eventual merit, films of such wide-ranging reception and critical and commercial success as Dennis Hopper’s The Last Movie or Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now. Since the 1949 festival, films such as Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom, Martin Scorsese’s New York, New York, and, regularly championed by the IFI in the past, Leonard Kastle’s The Honeymoon Killers and Ivan Passer’s Cutter’s Way, may be termed films maudits according to the term’s original definition.

In this spirit of reappraisal and curiosity, we invite audiences to attend these screenings, and to consider which contemporary films, currently dismissed, may in the future play to rapt audiences unable to understand how their greatness was not immediately appreciated.

Introduction and notes on individual films by Kevin Coyne.




Named after American cartoonist Alison Bechdel, who introduced the idea in her 1985 comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For, the Bechdel Test requires that a film include at least two female characters who talk to each other about something other than a man. Since cinemas in Sweden started rating films against this test last year, debate has emerged with regard to how few films of merit succeed in meeting its criteria and with this, renewed concern has developed around how women are portrayed on screen, with specific attention devoted to the alarming shortage of films that investigate compelling relationships between women – as friends, as rivals, as relatives or as allies. In fact, in the nearly 40 years since the publication of Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema (1975), in which Laura Mulvey identified a pattern whereby female characters were typically used as ‘the bearers of meaning’, too little has changed in this respect. 

This season presents a selection of films from a range of directors who have explored complex, nuanced ties between women that are not merely a feature of one scene, but an integral aspect of the films’ narratives. The season aims to encourage conversation around films – a number of which have been neglected or unfairly overlooked – that offer challenging portrayals of interactions between female characters and that stand out by engaging female protagonists as the creators or makers of meaning within these contexts. The selection also highlights those relationships between women defined by difference: in age, in race, in sexuality, in class and in perspective, thus underlining the absence of a universal female identity and drawing focus on the varying, often contradictory relationships and roles that women can fulfil on screen.

Introduction by Alice Butler. Image courtesy Alison Bechdel/Courtesy Firebrand Books.

This season continues across several programming strands at the IFI in July, including Ireland on Sunday, Wild Strawberries, Archive at Lunchtime, From the Vaults, Feast Your Eyes, IFI & Experimental Film Club, Afternoon Talk (FREE event), The Critical Take (FREE event), with the addition of a FREE panel discussion on Presence and Absence: Women in Contemporary Cinema. Tara Brady, Film Correspondent at The Irish Times, will be running a Girl See, Girl Do Workshop (Ages 9-12) on the Bechdel Test as part of the IFI Family Festival. 

Read our blog, The Female Gaze: Heroines of Irish Cinema Portrayed by its Female Directors, by Eilís Ní Raghallaigh from the IFI's Tiernan MacBride Library.

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