On Thursday the National Concert Hall welcomes Minister for Arts Jimmy Deenihan, John Ford's grandson Dan Ford, IFTA chief executive Aine Moriarty and a host of special guests to the gala opening night of this inaugural symposium.
Christopher Caliendo conducts the RTE Concert Orchestra with his own score, specially commissioned by 20th Century Fox, of Ford's early epic western The Iron Horse.
Friday kicks off with The John Ford Lecture, presented by acclaimed historian and biographer Joseph McBride. The lecture, entitled 'John Ford, Poet and Comedian', draws inspiration from Orson Welles's description of the legendary Irish-American film director. More highlights of Friday's programme include the Ford Film Hub Directors Panel, with Jim Sheridan, John Boorman, Thaddeus O'Sullivan and Brian Kirk; a public interview with the Oscar-nominated director (and friend of John Ford) Peter Bogdanovich; and an exclusive showing of Upstream, Ford's 1927 drama that was rediscovered in the New Zealand Film Archive in 2009 and screens for the very first time in Ireland. The day ends with an outdoor screening of classic western The Searchers in Dublin's Meeting House Square.
The wESTERN, the film genre that Ford is particularly renowned for, is in the spotlight on Saturday: with a first-look screening of AMC's drama series Hell On Wheels (starring Colm Meaney) and a screening of Fort Apache, the first in Ford's famous Cavalry trilogy; and we will be 'In Conversation With ...' BAFTA- and Oscar-nominated director Stephen Frears, discussing his career as a filmmaker, directing projects such as The Hi-Lo Country, The Queen, and The Snapper, and his thoughts on Ford. Later, celebrate the 20th anniversary screening of Clint Eastwood's multi-award winning revisionist western Unforgiven. Special guests at this event include the film's Oscar-winning editor Joel Cox, Empire magazine's Kim Newman, and Kyle Eastwood who will discuss Eastwood's interpretation of Ford's classic genre.
More Saturday highlights will see Irish writers Pat McCabe, Colin Bateman, Ian Power and Eoghan Harris meet to discuss the Ford films that inspired their work; the Abbey theatre opens its doors to interested visitors who can learn more about Ford's relationship with the Abbey Players (including Barry Fitzgerald, etc); composers Kyle Eastwood and Christopher Caliendo discuss Music for the Screen, and the Kyle Eastwood Band perform a special gig at the Button Factory.
Sunday is a special day focusing on Ford's Irish projects with a showing of Oscar-winning IRA drama The Informer and the Dublin Premiere of Se Merry Doyle's new documentary John Ford: Dreaming the Quiet Man, attended by the director Peter Bogdanovich and Dan Ford. Finally, the 60th anniversary screening of John Ford's famous, and perhaps most personal feature film, The Quiet Man, closes the John Ford Ireland Film Symposium with Hollywood royalty Maureen O'Hara attending.
Tickets for the John Ford Ireland Film Symposium are from €3 and are available to purchase at www.johnfordireland.org, www.nch.ie and www.ifi.ie or call + 353 1 6624120 "I hope you observe with the same sympathy as I do the introduction of Irish characters into American history."
'We've got to remember in difficult times it's about who we are as people, and how our sense of our own history and our confidence in projecting this can get us through," says Aine Moriarty, CEO of the Irish Film and Television Academy ( IFTA).
"We are great writers, great storytellers, we need to showcase that we are part of the very beginning of the film industry," she insists.
So, how does one do that?
It was about three years ago that Aine had what now seems such an obvious yet brilliant idea.
After setting up IFTA along the lines of, and with great help from, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (Bafta), she says, "We were so impressed with their [Bafta's] reach back into history, we wanted to showcase that the Irish were part of the very beginning of the film industry, but we needed a cornerstone, a leading, key film-maker, our own David Lean, and all roads kept leading back to John Ford.
"So, initially, we approached his family and discussed honouring Ford as the creative germ of our film industry, and they were delighted to have this recognition for him. It was just so right, they said. 'He would be so proud of this.'
"You see, Ford worked very hard to bring business to Ireland. For example The Quiet Man ... [His most intensely personal film, Ford was told by Hollywood that it wasn't commercially viable and they would not finance it] logistically it was a big undertaking, but he did it. He believed so strongly in Irish actors, he had such a strong connection with the Abbey Theatre and brought so many of its performers to us on the Hollywood screen.
"He came to Ireland so many times, he made such efforts; getting budgets passed, getting studios to finance him -- he often financed the films himself -- he is the ultimate son of the Irish diaspora, he is our inspiration".
Currently Aine and her team are putting the last manic touches to the first John Ford Symposium, to be held in Dublin this weekend.
But it's already obvious that this is far, far more than a mere 'film festival' or even a weekend of events that will attract cinema buffs, students, actors and so-called 'creative' people to the city.
By honouring Ireland's greatest film director, John Ford -- originally John Feeney, born to native Irish parents in Maine and brother of actor Francis 'Ford' who brought him to Hollywood and featured in many of his films -- Aine has put her finger on the hidden pulse of what is truly important about Ireland; something we seem to have forgotten, not just in the last few years of austerity but also during the superficiality of the 'boom' years: the fact that we have not only exported our literature, poetry, drama and music worldwide but we have also, through our talented Irish diaspora, influenced and nurtured many creative geniuses who are proud to acknowledge the sons and daughters of Ireland as their inspiration.
One such genius is Clint Eastwood. Last December, Aine travelled to Hollywood to present Eastwood with the first John Ford Award.
She tells me: "We chose Eastwood because of his close connection with the key genres of Ford, because he was so influenced by him and because, like Ford, he is so inspiring himself.
"We thought it would be a good idea to launch the John Ford Symposium in LA last December with the presentation of the award to Eastwood. Michael Collins, the Irish Ambassador to the USA, presented it -- which would have delighted Ford because of course he would have known [the original] Collins; he would have met him."
She adds, "Ford was very concerned about Ireland during that period of history ... he travelled quite a lot between the USA and Ireland, which was extraordinary when one considers the difficulties of getting here at that time [early Twenties]. He was very involved.
"So every year we're going to grow and enhance the fantastic legacy of correspondence, the letters etc, that have to do with Ford [and Ireland] because so much touches on our early history."
Already the symposium has attracted huge international attention. It will feature such luminaries as Oscar- winning editor Joel Cox; filmmakers Peter Bogdanovich, Stephen Frears, John Boorman, Jim Sheridan, and Brian Kirk; and writers Pat McCabe, Colin Bateman, Ian Power and Eoghan Harris; as well as composers Christopher Caliendo and Kyle Eastwood; and actress Maureen O'Hara.
All this in the middle of a recession -- when there's no money for hospitals, let alone arts and culture? How on earth did Aine manage it?
She laughs. Or is it a grimace? And tells me: "Although the timing was difficult economically, the support of the Department for Arts and Minister Deenihan has been exceptional as they really understand our vision and the potential for this to grow year on year.
The department put up an initial small amount of funding to get us started which enabled us to hire a researcher, to do some vital groundwork. Separately we've raised the equivalent of €150,000, mostly through 'in-kind' support from partners and service providers, distributors and such like who have all helped make this happen."
British Airways is covering the flights, and the Shelbourne -- where Ford used to stay, and a great favourite of Hollywood royalty -- is providing accommodation.
Aine is "delighted that Tourism Ireland and Failte Ireland have also now linked up to help build the Ford concept with us, especially in the run-up to next year.
"The whole project has just taken off and there's been an overwhelmingly positive reaction from everyone here in Ireland, the UK and especially in the US -- people really get the project and the idea I guess because it is Ford and he really is the master."
As Aine and her team are already working on the 2013 symposium, she admits that she is considering one major sponsor for next year.
"As much as we've been overwhelmed by positive feedback," she pauses -- and for a second the enormity of what she and her team have already achieved seems to overwhelm her as she admits tiredly, "Oh, we knocked on all doors ... everywhere; asking please ... could you ... would you ... oh, thank you! Yes we can ... "
Immediately she springs right back to her go-get-em enthusiasm and smiles, "But one major sponsor would just pull everything together.
"Chances are it will be an international player because international feedback has been overwhelming so far, but ... it would be terrific if it were an Irish brand."