Apart from the unsettled weather, there was a distinct Down Under feel to the first night of the 59th Cork Film Festival at Cork Opera House.
Australian ambassador to Ireland, Dr Ruth Adler, was among those in the audience for Charlies’ Country — an opening film set in an Aboriginal community.
Festival director James Mullighan is also Australian, and as he entered his second year at the helm of Ireland’s oldest film festival, he emphasised that the programme of 180 screenings had been selected to appeal to cinema buffs and mainstream audiences alike.
“The Cork Film Festival has become synonymous with quality, variety, and outstanding creativity, and we are immensely proud of what we have in store for the city of Cork this year,” said Mr Mullighan.
Despite the Antipodean accents in evidence, the Cork festival continues its reputation for supporting local and national films. There are 37 Irish short films among the 107 offerings in that category, and one of the main events of this weekend is the world premiere of Standby tonight. Brian Gleeson, the star of that Dubin-set feature, is in Cork for the premiere, as are the directing brothers Rob and Ronan Burke.
The festival is also sowing the seeds for the future with a strong children’s programme that includes the incredibly popular singalong version of Frozen (sold out weeks ago), and an early chance to catch Disney’s latest animated blockbuster, Big Hero 6.
Away from the regular screenings at venues such as the Gate Cinema and Triskel Christchurch, other events include a food-accompanied showing at the English Market of the Robin Williams film The Birdcage; and a HSE-sponsored discussion of mental health issues around an ‘Illuminate’ strand of films dealing with the subject.
Christy Moore will be in attendance at the Opera House this evening to introduce a screening of his concert film, Come All You Dreamers.
One of the innovations of this year’s festival is that it will move outside its city heartland with screenings in the Cork towns of Mallow and Midleton.
Organisers of the festival have been reporting healthy ticket sales, but are without a title sponsor since the expiration of Corona’s contract in 2012, and were left with recorded losses of €136,000 following last year’s event. The search is on for a new title sponsor in time for the landmark 60th event iin 2015, but for the next nine days, the focus is very much on the feast of film on offer. “There is something for everyone in this festival and we hope people come, sit back and enjoy what’s in store for them,” said Mr Mullighan.
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