This Wonderful Little Place … Le Flore en L’Île


Director of Dublin International Film Festival, GRAINNE HUMPHREYS, loves breakfast in a small Parisian café …

I attend at least 15 film festivals each year including established events such as Cannes, Edinburgh, Krakow, Toronto, San Sebastián, Mumbai and new events too. It’s important to see new work and to discover alternative ways of curating cinema and developing audiences. Last year I went to Tehran for the first time – it was a very self-contained, government-organised event with over 150 films, which is an amazing output.

Festival travel sounds glamorous but is usually a combination of early starts, watching five or six new films per day in a cinema, and hotel rooms. I try to unwind by going with reliable dinner recommendations. My two favourite “work” restaurants are the wondrous seafood gem that is Mariñela – just on the harbour in San Sebastián, and the legendary Queen Mother Café on Queen Street West in Toronto – for the best Pad Thai ever.

As a jury member I often walk the red carpet and while it’s great fun to dress up and be part of a black tie audience, I much prefer early starts to late nights in heels. That said, it’s interesting how glamorous audiences raise the profile of certain films. My Oscar tips are Olivia Coleman and Glenn Close for best actresses and possibly Roma for best film.

I like bright colours and have discovered the power of red and pink. Staples in my wardrobe include a much-loved Joseph coat and dresses by Karen Millen and Carolyn Donnelly [The Edit]. I usually acquire a couple of new dresses, on my travels, for the Dublin Film Festival and have realised it’s important not to blend into the background. I’ve spent the last year putting together the programme for this year’s Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival watching over 1,200 films. I love the visceral thrill of watching a new film, which is only equalled by the energy of watching the same film in a full cinema with a local audience.

This year’s highlights include a selection of new Asian cinema; we have some fantastic Chinese and Korean titles. We are also launching a documentary competition and I’m very proud of assembling such a strong inaugural line-up. We also have some wonderful guests – with a focus on film composers – and the festival is bookended by the visits of Oscar-winning David Shire and the incredibly talented Jocelyn Pook.

If I can add on a few days to a festival trip to explore the country, that’s a bonus. Last year I took a road trip from New York to Detroit via Pittsburgh; Cleveland was fascinating.

I first went to Paris in my late teens and it’s my favourite destination. Despite my annual visits, I had yet to find that “one” special place. Twenty years ago I discovered a small café called Le Flore en L’Île, which is on the corner of Quai d’Orléans just behind Notre Dame, overlooking the Seine. When I met a Parisian friend there for breakfast, we sat and feasted on the formal three-course petit déjeuner for hours. The scrambled eggs are superb, the coffee rich and endless, and the formal service brings brunch to a new level. Just 20 tables make it an intimate space – and the mirrored walls means it is easy to people watch, so it’s fun with friends or solo. I hope to go back en route to Cannes Film Festival in May.

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