Saturday 24 June 2017

My cultural life: Grainne Humphreys, festival director

Grainne Humphreys
Grainne Humphreys
Mary Tyler Moore
Prince
Catherine Deneuve

Grainne Humphreys is festival director of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival which kicks off on Thursday. She was born in, educated in and lives in Dublin. She is a board member of the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris. She has served as a jury member on various international film festivals and has coordinated a number of film programmes at numerous international events.

TV: The Mary Tyler Moore Show

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Mary Tyler Moore
 

This is probably my most nostalgic choice, The Mary Tyler Moore Show (right) which ran from 1970-77. Moore's sophisticated single gal, upbeat personality yet quiet determination, topped off with a stylish wardrobe definitely influenced the way I approached my own career. The series justifiably won numerous awards and led the way for shows like Murphy Brown to Friends and 30 Rock.

Album: Purple Rain

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Prince
 

My first year in college in 1990, it was our first house party and someone stole our Philips twin cassette tape deck - but as I explained to the police who arrived to break up the party, what I was most upset about was the valuable cassette tape left inside. It's hard to describe the initial experience of hearing Prince (above) for the first time, I remember feeling euphoria and exhaustion, and the razzle dazzle of individual songs which changed in tone and emotion, sometimes within the same song.

Film: The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

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Catherine Deneuve
 

While the endless plaudits encircle Damien Chazelle's La La Land, I feel a need to return to Jacques Demy's sweeping, romantic musical which stands at the crossroads between Hollywood Cinema and the French New Wave. Genevieve is a shop girl played touchingly by a luminous Catherine Deneuve (above), who is in love with Guy (Nino Castelnuovo), a lowly mechanic in this simple love story where every word is sung. It's transformed into something elegant and intensely moving - for three key reasons; Jacques Demy's lightness of touch, Deneuve is heartbreaking with an innocence which I miss from her work thereafter, and Michel Legrand's beautiful score.

Art: German Expressionism

German Expressionism from Kandinsky to Kirchner at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, 2005. The most fascinating and exciting exhibition I have ever seen, and one discovered by accident. The expansive exhibition was divided into three sections in German art: Die Brucke, Der Blaue Reiter and a group of unaffiliated expressionists. It was the introduction to this later group which proved revelatory.

Book: Away

I can't remember how I found Amy Bloom's Away - but then I believe that sometimes books have a way of finding you. It tells the story of Lillian Leyb who escapes the pogroms of Russia to go to America, where her skill at reinvention earns her salvation from rich man's mistress to prison inmate, taking her from Yiddish theatre on New York's Lower East Side, to Seattle's Jazz District, and finally out across the wilderness of Alaska. It is both epic and intimate - there are moments of lyrical beauty followed by casual, shocking violence.

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