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Interview: Hannigan Chats about Cork Film Fest 2010
04 Nov 2010 :
Mick Hannigan
The 55th Corona Cork Film Festival, Ireland’s oldest film festival will take place between November 7th and 14th this year and will, in that time, screen 300 films over eight days. As previously reported the event will open with the screening of Mark Romanek’s ‘Never Let Me Go’ and will close with Sofia Coppola’s ‘Somewhere’ whilst international and Irish features, documentaries and shorts will all feature in between the two. We talked with festival director, Mick Hannigan about this year’s line-up and the evolution of the Cork Film Festival.

The festival will play host to international features such as ‘Tuesday Before Christmas’, ‘The Black Panther’, ‘The American’, ‘The Myth of the American Sleepover’ and ‘Woman Without Piano’ whilst the Irish feature filmmaking community will be well-represented through screenings of Ger Leonard’s ‘Five Day Shelter’; Ian Power’s ‘The Runway’; Risteard O’Domhnaill’s feature doc, ‘The Pipe’; Lenny Abrahamson’s ‘Garage’; Paul Fraser’s ‘My Brothers’; Margaret Corkery’s ‘Eamon’; Alicia Duffy’s ‘All Good Children’; Conor Horgan’s ‘One Hundred Mornings’ and Carmel Winter’s ‘Snap’.

Festival Director Mick Hannigan explains that he is particularly proud of the Cork presence in the Irish line up of features: “It’s great this year, we have a number of films which were shot in Cork city or county,”he says. “Carmel Winter’s ‘Snap’ was shot in Cork, as was ‘The Runway’. Along with that, we have a number of films by Cork-based female directors, like Carmel Winters and Margaret Corkery whose feature, ‘Eamon’ is being shown again this year as part of the ‘green shoots’ programme. And then there’s a couple of female short film directors including Una Carney, who has two short films in, which I just find very interesting.”

On the topic of short films, the Cork Film Festival will once again fly the flag for short filmmakers and will, this year, feature over 28 Programmes of Irish and International Short Films from 27 different countries - including a four-programme tribute to shorts from Portugal. Filmmakers will compete to win Cork’s prestigious Best International Short Film Award. The festival was one of the first to celebrate the short film craft and this year looks to highlight another branch of filmmaking – that of contemporary Irish filmmaking. ‘Green Shoots’ is a new feature of the festival whereby six Irish films which are seen to be emblematic of a new spirit in Irish filmmaking will screen.

Mick explains how the new section came about: “What intrigues us is that there were a number of films being produced which didn’t easily fit into preconceptions about what Irish cinema should be about,”he tells us. ”These seemed to us to be representative of new voices and new approaches to film making, for example Carmel Winter’s ‘Snap’ which – thematically and structurally - is quite innovative. The first one that impressed me in that regard was, of course, ‘Garage’ which I saw in Directors Fortnight in Cannes. It was a kind of film making that I’d seen from other European countries or from Latin America, and I was constantly asking ‘Why can’t we make films like this?’ – so ‘Garage’ was the first one which struck a chord with me, a film with an interesting voice, and a rural story...’Garage’ could have been made anywhere. So it seemed to us it was worth looking at these films because they were fresh.”

The Festival will screen several documentaries including ‘Who Is Dervla Murphy?’, ‘Waiting for Superman’ and ‘Benda Bililli’. Furthermore, in a rare move a documentary will receive a gala screening at this year’s event; the world premier of Sé Merry Doyle’s ‘Dreaming The Quiet Man’ will show on November 12th with Maureen O’Hara in attendance. ”As a rule we have documentaries in smaller venues,” Mick explains, ”And there is an opportunity for discussion, Q&A, and so forth. But with this film we thought it was deserving of a bigger auditorium, a bigger space, a bigger scheduling slot. The fact that Maureen O’ Hara will be there, the fact that it deals with ‘The Quiet Man’, suggests that there will be a much wider audience than we would normally expect for our documentaries.”

Mick is also clearly a big fan of the documentary itself, telling us that: “The film itself is splendid. I saw it when it was being edited and I was deeply moved by the film, it’s a very interesting insight into the making of ‘The Quiet Man’. And there are some hilarious moments when people in Cong are interviewed – there’s one woman who is absolutely hilarious, she describes John Wayne’s walk as ‘like he is always going around a corner’, and she mimics him. I’ll never look at John Wayne’s particular gait again.”

Moving away slightly from the film festival I ask Mick about the Kino Cinema which, despite a public campaign, closed last November. I ask him what his thoughts on the closure are, almost a year on. “It is very unfortunate that the Kino closed, it had existed for 13 years,”he starts. ” It does have to be said that the model of one screen didn’t work; we were always struggling to survive. Had we had two screens we could have had greater choice, had greater flexibility in programming, and we would have achieved the economies of scale that multiplexes get, like with one projectionist for a number of screens.

“Having said that, it is missed in the city. There are a number of other initiatives, film clubs etc. but there still isn’t a dedicated Arthouse screen. The Kino building is as yet not up for sale, I still own that and am still working on attempting to revive the Kino. The Kino has been closed one year now. I think people should reflect on the fact that it took the Lighthouse almost 20 years, and a location change to be revived. Sometimes these things take time, it is not the best economic environment to be trying to raise funds or backing, but I am some way down the road to making a real attempt to restore it. There are some private monies in place, but it will require public support, that goes without saying. And the pattern seems to be that the audience for arts events and activities and festivals has not diminished in times of recession, but has gone up.”

On a final note, Mick brings us back to the central drive behind the Cork Film Festival: ”When the festival was established all those years back there was an aspiration to give Irish cinema a platform but that wasn’t possible because of the dearth of productions. Now there are a tremendous number of productions, from features to shorts to documentaries. We are screening over four hours of Irish material each day of the eight days of the festival, between shorts, documentaries and features, and I think that is commendable. And it is not something that we are imposing on our audience, people want to see this. With documentaries like ‘Dreaming The Quiet Man’ and the Dearbhla Murphy doc, I know those will all be packed out.”

  • Other festival highlights include OutLook which celebrates its twentieth year bringing LGBT filmmaking to Cork. Programme highlights include ‘Loose Cannons’, an Italian comedy-drama about a gay man trying to reconcile his out gay life in Rome with the trappings of his conservative family and ‘Stonewall Uprising’, which uses accounts from participants of the gay riots to retell the Stonewall tale in an exciting and engaging way.   
  • Finally, the Festival will also pay tribute to Swedish video-artist Johanna Billing and to Mark Nugent, filmmaker, digital artist and writer. Renowned filmmaker Pip Chodorov will attend the festival for the screening of his documentary ‘Free Radicals’ whilst ‘A Secret Understanding’, a series of specially commissioned music films made by visual artists will take place in the Triskel Arts Centre and award-winning Irish artist Paki Smith will project his unique film on the walls of the Cork Opera House.

For the full programme of screenings and tickets check out www.corkfilmfest.org.



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