The Irish Film Institute (formerly the Irish Film Centre) is both a film theatre and a national body that supports Irish Film heritage. It maintains an archive of Irish films and provides education in film culture. It shows independent and foreign language films overlooked by commercial multiplexes at its cinema in the Temple Bar quarter of Dublin. Film festivals are also staged throughout the year.
There are three cinemas: Cinema 1 has a capacity of 258; Cinema 2 holds 106 people; and Cinema 3 seats 58. They are wheelchair accessible and support the use of hearing aids.
The Institute opened the Irish Film Centre on Eustace Street in September 1992. The award-winning building, designed by architects O'Donnell and Tuomey, was transformed from the old Quaker Meeting House into the Irish Film Centre, later the Institute, with funding from the Arts Council, the National Lottery, the European Union, Bord Fáilte (Irish Tourist board), and private sponsorship. The Centre gave a new home to the Irish Film Archive as well as organisations such as Film Base, Access Cinema, Screen Producers Ireland, and Media Desk.
The IFI increases the range of films available to Irish audiences. New releases, national seasons, directors' retrospectives, thematic programmes, festivals, and special events have been regular features of the programme, with the number of films screened rising to over 400 a year. The IFI welcomed its one millionth customer in the late 1990s and improved its facilities, including the introduction of digital sound, larger screens in each cinema, and the installation of Ireland's only functioning 70mm projection system in Cinema 1.
The IFI also provides a venue for debate and acts as a meeting place for a variety of groups. A series of public interviews has brought many international filmmakers to IFI audiences over the years, including John Woo, Peter Greenaway, Dennis Hopper, Atom Egoyan, Sydney Pollack, Tim Roth, Joel Schumacher, and Claude Miller. Evening courses offer opportunities to explore everything from Indian cinema and America independents to Spanish film, with lectures following each screening.
The bookshop stocks a wide selection of literature about Irish cinema, as well as Irish and World films on video and DVD. There is also a bar and restaurant called the IFI Café Bar. Funding is provided by the Irish government through the Arts Council of Ireland and by the National Lottery.