The 56th Corona Cork Film Festival is commencing this Sunday 6th and running until Sunday the 13th of November, is the longest running festival of its kind and promises attendees a wide range of feature films, shorts, documentaries and animations.
The festival will also be focusing in collaboration with the Romanian Cultural Institute of London on short films of Romania, a country which has come to the fore of the film world in recent years with directors like Cristi Puiu (Aurora, The Death of Mr. Lazarescu) and Adrian Sitaru (Best Intentions, Hooked)
Local production will again also be a major focus at the festival with the launch of the Cork Screen Commission aimed at attracting film production to the city and two films at the festival, which were made in Cork, getting their world premiere at the event.
IFTN caught up with the festival’s manager, Sean Kelly, to ask about what those attending the festival can expect this year and what is behind the success of the long festival.
IFTN: What films or special events are you most looking forward to at this year’s film festival?
Sean Kelly: Well I am a documentary fan, so there is always a huge range across all kinds of subjects, that the festival screens so I look forward to that whole programme really. There are a couple of things; there is one called ‘Give Up Tomorrow’ which is set in the Philippines. That sounds really interesting. From mainstream subjects to all kinds of quirky characters around the globe, the whole programme has fascinating stuff.
The Corona Cork Film Festival is the longest running festival of its kind in Ireland. What do you put your success down to?
Sean Kelly: There are a number of factors I guess but I think is the range of things we offer. We have an international programme, we are probably most famous I suppose for our short films though. I think that is the appeal. People can see short films from right around the world. We screen local films as well; there is that variety from international to shorts, documentary, features, animation.
What is the process of selection for the festival? Is it all done by submissions or do they scout out films?
Sean Kelly: We have a submission process and we receive about 3,000 films every year. We whittle that down then and screen around 300 films. Most of them come through the submission process, but not all. There are obviously some big films that don’t submit to us; the large majority goes through the submission process. Everything gets viewed at least once that is sent to us, we don’t leave anything unviewed. We have a panel of viewers and the closing date is June or July, so gradually over the summer and early autumn it gets whittled down to the selected films, through repeat viewing.
Who makes up your viewing panel?
Sean Kelly: Most of them are people with a connection to filmmaking, the filmmaking industry or are film studies graduates; that kind of thing. The panel is normally about 10 people. We keep it small; that way there can always be communication, so there is a lot of back and forth about the process. If it gets too large then it’s impossible to monitor.
You are premiering two films which were shot in Cork. What do you think is the attraction for filmmakers to Cork?
Sean Kelly: The only thing we can say for certain is there is an increase in quality and numbers of films being made. This year for the first time our ‘Made In Cork’ shorts we have three programmes instead of two just because the quality was so high we felt the need to put another programme in there. As to what makes Cork special; it is hard to say but there is a lot of films being made here. There are a lot of technicians and professionals all based in the area. There is an association called ‘Southern Screen Professionals’ that were formed in the last 12 months, of film professionals in the Cork region. There are a lot of people here; that is an obvious attraction.
How do you think the establishment of the Cork Screen Commission will aid attracting filmmakers to Cork also?
Sean Kelly: Well I think it is a great initiative. When you have an official body, the drive and the will have always been there, but having an official body focusing solely on it will raise awareness and will eventually drive on the process.
Looking at your progamme, you feature a lot of shorts, why do you think it is so important to fly the flag for short filmmakers?
Sean Kelly: It is our niche, if you like. It’s not something that other festivals do. Every festival has its area that it focuses on. Ours has always been the short film. It is an art form in itself, not just a stepping stone to features. That is how we see it.
What sorts of audiences are attracted to the Cork Film Festival?
Sean Kelly: We have found that our audience is very broad. We have got people who have been coming for forty years and are great supporters of the festival; they are festival drivers who are coming since the early 70s as well and they will be driving our guest around this year. We have a lot of young people as well and our surveys indicate that it cuts across a range of demographics. I think that our programme has a wide appeal; it genuinely does. There are people across all age groups and demographics. We are also a very affordable festival and we try and make it so everybody feels comfortable in the festival environment.
What are the future plans for the Corona Cork Film Festival?
Sean Kelly: Well, to keep putting on great festivals is obviously the broad priority. We are focusing more and more on young Irish filmmakers. We have a filmmaker development programme in place. Our education programme is becoming increasingly important and we want to continue growing that as well.
For more information on the festival and this year’s full programme you can log on to the official festival website at www.corkfilmfest.org