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Cork International Film Festival announces award winners
27 Nov 2023 : News Desk
Animal directed by Sofia Exarchou
Cork International Film Festival (CIFF) finished last night after 18 days of bringing Irish and international film to Cork, with multiple World and Irish premieres.

CIFF announced several award-winners after welcoming hundreds of international filmmakers and industry professionals to the longest-running film festival in Ireland. Attendance at the festival was up by 40% on 2022. 

The 2023 CIFF programme included 110 features and documentaries, over 120 shorts, and 5 galas: Poor Things, One Night in Millstreet, All of Us Strangers, Sirocco and the Kingdom of the Winds, and Is There Anybody Out There?.

There were screenings at 14 venues across Cork City and county including Cork Opera House, The Everyman, Triskel, St Peter’s, Lord Mayor’s Pavilion, UCC, Sirius Arts Centre, Crawford Gallery, The Reel Picture Ballincollig and Blackpool, The Gate Cinemas Midleton and Mallow, Regal Cinema Youghal, and Cinemax Bantry. Five trail sites featured as part of the festival’s programme, with the Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr. Kieran McCarthy, leading two city-wide film and heritage walking tours.

The Gradam Spiorad Na Féile/Spirit of The Festival Award, announced on Sunday November 26th, went to Animal directed by Sofia Exarchou, with an honourable mention for The Girls Are Alright by Itsaso Arana. In Animal, Exarchou puts the Greek tourism machine in the spotlight with cruel honesty and imagination, filled with glitter and karaoke nights full of false notes.

The Jury, comprising Katie Holly (Keeper Pictures), Grégoire Graesslin (Kinology) and Graham Fulton (Conic Distribution), commented:

“It was a robust discussion to find our winner but ultimately, we were unanimous in awarding this prize to a film that moved all the jury members with its precise depiction of the melancholy that grips the characters, each one more moving than the last. A hard-hitting film about the dark side of the tourism industry and those that work in it.”

“Dimitra Vlagkopoulou’s performance is masterful and truly engrossing. Animal, directed by Sofia Exarchou wins the prize for its heart, tears and glitter, and we can’t wait to see what Sofia does next. We also want to give an honourable mention to Itsaso Arana for her beautifully intimate and affecting debut The Girls Are Alright.”

The Gradam Na Féile Do Scannáin Faisnéise/Award for Cinematic Documentary goes to Knit’s Island (directed by Ekiem Barbier, Guilhem Causse and Quentin L'Helgoualc'h) with a statement from jury members Babette Niedu (European Film Market Berlinale), Carmen Thompson (Red Sea International Film Festival & Sheffield Doc Festival) and Viktoria Leschenko (Dok Leipzig) commenting: 

“This film’s unique and innovative approach to storytelling marks a commendable and genre-pushing achievement in the documentary genre, showcasing the cinematic potentials of the virtual realm. Seamlessly blending fiction and non-fiction, the filmmakers invite the audience into a fantastical, but quietly familiar digital world, forcing us to question the boundaries of ‘reality’. With inventive cinematography, Ekiem Barbier, Guilhem Causse, and Quentin L'Helgoualc'h’s absurd but deeply human film highlights both the cruelty and beautiful sense of community to be found in this new online space.”

The Cork International Film Festival Youth Jury award went to Dreaming in Between (Nigekireta Yume) directed by Ninomiya Ryûtarô. It was chosen by the Festival’s Youth Jury comprising students from UCC, MTU and St. John’s Central College,

“In the end, our winner might seem like an unconventional choice for the Youth Jury Award, seeing as it focuses on an older protagonist,” said the Youth Jury. “However, we felt that the internal struggle of the protagonist is something that anybody of any age can relate to. Whether you’re 25 or 55, everyone can understand the isolation that this film captures. The power of this film is its ability to make you reflect on your decisions, your regrets, and whether it's too late to create the life you want. It’s a visual delight, with an emotional leading performance.”

The Feature and Short Audience Awards will be announced on Wednesday 29th November.  Every feature and short film shown in premiere is eligible, including Poor Things, All Of Us Strangers, and One Night In Millstreet.

The 68th Cork International Film Festival ran from Thursday 9th to Sunday 26th November, 2023. For more information about the festival, click here.





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