Written by Fiona
Although it was brought to a close with the impressive, if harrowing, post apocalyptic feature The Road, the 54th Corona Cork Film Festival was an upbeat and positive affair. Despite the current economic climate, and the reports of reduced festival finances, the popularity of the festival was preserved. Both the opening and closing Galas, and many of the evening Gala shows were sold out as in previous years. The support for the festival was also visible, as 150 volunteers, along with an array of dedicated staff, kept the events running smoothly. The programme itself saw enthuasism for films from both up and coming directors such as Margaret Corkery, and her first feature ‘Eamon’, as well as old classics, like Micheal Haneke’s ‘The White Ribbon’. The Coen brothers’ (festival staples at this point) A Serious Man was in demand, along with Up in The Air, starring George Clooney.
There was the usual wide selection of short film programmes, both International and Irish. This year saw also the introduction of a special Indian shorts programme. Among the short films I was lucky enough to see myself, were Elephantskin and Free Chips Forever! by Severin Fiala and Ulrike Putzer, and Claire Dix respectively. The former won the Festival Best Short award, and the latter took the award for Best Irish Short. In particular, Claire Dix’s film had a sweet charm, offering a glimpse of the life of a young girl who is a partner in chip robbing crime with her dad. Irish talent came through in both the audience award categories, with Bye Bye Now (Ross Whitaker and Aideen O’Sullivan, Ireland) winning the best Irish film, and Moore Street Masala (David O’Sullivan, Ireland) taking the best International award. The latter was a great feat of organization, as it involved gathering participants from all over the country, getting them to learn some Bollywood dance moves, travel to Dublin and perform them for the major scene of the film. The Made in Cork programmes sold out as usual, although nowhere as quickly as previous years, which often saw the last tickets disappear on the first or second day of the festival box office opening. I only caught the Made in Cork Programme 1, so I missed the chance to see the winning film My Beamish Boy by Mark Hannon, which captures an important piece of Cork, namely the close of the Beamish & Crawford Brewery at the South Gate site. The special mention went to Neil Hurley’s The Shop, a film which also provided an insight into life in Cork, by centering on the role of a small local shop in a community.
Of everything I saw during the festival, the two films I found to be most memorable were Six Farms (Tony Donoghue, Ireland) which received special mentions in both the Best Irish Short and International Short sections, and Jericho (Liam Gavin), one of the films from the IFB Signatures programme. The former used an appealing mixture of static images and controlled movement to illustrate and capture the stories told by the older generation about their lives on the farm. The film shows there is great humor in the simple stories that surround us. Jericho showed a man grieving after the death of his wife, only to be visited unexpectedly by his childhood toys. The film provided an interesting look at how we are expected to deal with tragedy in our lives.
Overall, the festival was an enjoyable and successful event. Hopefully, next year will be even better, as the festival settles into it’s new slot in the calendar