Under a cloud of economic uncertainty, Ireland’s Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sports Mary Hanafin opened the Cork Film Festival. The Minister spoke of the central importance of film production to many industries as well as the strength of Irish productions. Attendees searching for evidence to support the Minister’s claim did not need to look further than the festival’s eight-day line-up.
The 55th Corona Cork Film Festival represented a homecoming for a trio of Cork-based feature length productions that have recently garnered international acclaim. Snap, first time director and Cork native Carmel Winter’s inventive and uncompromising study of family abuse that recently won the Variety Critics’ Choice award at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival elicited equal admiration from its home audience. The Runway, a Spielbergian family movie loosely based on the true story of a Colombian pilot who crash landed in the north Cork town of Mallow prompting locals to improvise the titular tarmac strip won over festival attendees of all ages. The home town hat-trick was completed by the heart-warming road movie My Brothers. The coming-of-age comedy/drama, which was shot on the wet and weary roads of east Cork in 2009, proved as much a hit with local filmgoers as it had during festival screenings at Tribeca and Rome.
However, a bumper year for local productions did not find organisers ignoring wider interests. International work was well represented from the festival opener, British film Never Let Me Go (haunting if a bit hollow) to Gaspar Noe’s hallucinatory Enter the Void (a talking point for many attendees) with US indie darling Sofia Coppola’s thematic sequel to Lost in Translation, Somewhere closing the festival with a gala screening.
Documentary was also well-represented during the eight days of the festival, with The Pipe, an eye-opening account of the Shell oil company’s attempts to lay a pipeline through the remote village of Rossport despite local protests garnering much attention and acclaim. A particular highlight of the festival was Dreaming the Quiet Man, a documentary charting a milestone in Irish cinema and the career of John Ford. Featuring contributions from Jim Sheridan and Martin Scorsese, the gala screening was leant particular significance by the attendance of The Quiet Man star Maureen O’Hara who recently celebrated her 90th birthday at her West Cork home.
If the Cork Film Festival had a unique selling point it would be the attention and care it displays for the short film, a dedication matched by few large-scale film festivals. The festival screened literally hundreds of shorts, across nine programmes with major accolades at the closing ceremony awarded to British film Baby (Best International Short Film), Pentecost (Best Irish Short Film) and Kettle (Made in Cork). The Swedish short Incident By A Bank won the Cork Short Film Nominee for the European Film Awards.
Liam Burke is the author of the Pocket Essential Superhero Movies.