Passionately embracing film in all its forms, the Cork Film Festival is a true cinematic celebration. From hard-hitting documentaries to crowd-pleasing animated features, and from carefully curated short film programmes to live screenings of pop concerts, the festival showcases a wide-ranging and dynamic selection of the finest works from around the globe to an ever-increasing audience of cineastes.
Now heading towards its 60th edition in 2015, the week-long fest takes place in Cork, the bustling coastal city in Ireland. Established in 1956, the Cork fest is one of the oldest film festivals in Europe and is held in high regard both regionally – it is one the most important events in the Irish social and cultural calendar – and internationally. There is something for everyone here, as Cork’s packed programme of contemporary work brings together world cinema, mini-budget indie films, Hollywood blockbusters, docs and even experimental shorts, with a particular focus on films and filmmaking from Ireland – the Cork Film Festival proudly promotes and offers a wider platform for Irish film to potential international markets.
Cork’s screening programme is rich and varied, with six distinct sections: Features, Documentaries, Shorts, Special Events (which have included a Frozen sing-along, a live screening of Bjork’s Biophilia performance, ‘screentalks’ and retro showcases of classics such as Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey), Illuminate (a brand new film and discussion series focusing on mental health), and a Schools Programme of carefully selected age-specific features and shorts. Within these sections, attendees have been able to watch animated fare such as Penguins of Madagascar, Sam Peckinpah’s classic Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, specially selected family-friendly short programmes, and even black and white features like the Elijah Wood starring Dylan Thomas semi-biopic Set Fire to the Stars.
Since its inaugural festival, Cork has grown surely and steadily, with its most recent editions seeing over 100 events, 80 feature film performances containing 25 documentaries, 20 of the festival’s famed Shorts@CFF presentations and 10 Special Events. Short films, in particular, are much loved at Cork, with the acclaimed Shorts@CFF sub-fest gaining increasing attention – not to mention stature – when it recently received Academy Award accreditation, meaning winners of Grand Prix Irish Short and Grand Prix International Short are both eligible for Oscar contention.
As well as the aforementioned awards the Cork Film Festival has several other juried awards, many of which come with cash prizes, including the Gradam Spiorad na Féile (Spirit of the Festival Award) for the best feature-length film, the Grand Prix Documentary and the Special Achievement in Irish Filmmaking. The festival’s Talent Development section adds to the rewarding and immersive experience, with Incubate (a whole day conference for short filmmakers), Emerge, which melds conference with performance to cover digital audience building and involves industry luminaries, and Fund, a half-day short and feature film funding seminar, providing a series of panels and case studies to help filmmakers.
The 60th annual Cork Film Festival takes place in November 2015, at several venues across the city including the Gate Cinema, Cork Opera House and Triskel Christchurch.