Cork Film Festival gives short films an Oscar nudge

Come Oscar night 2016 in Los Angeles, some filmmakers may owe a debt of gratitude to the Cork Film Festival, which closed over the weekend.

It was revealed at last night’s closing ceremony that the festival had achieved the status of Academy qualifying festival, meaning this year’s winning Grand Prix Irish and Grand Prix International films are eligible for Oscar consideration.

The films in question — Grand Prix International Short More Than Two Hours /Bishtar az do sa’at, by Ali Asgari (Iran) and the Grand Prix Irish Short presented by RTÉ Cork, Anywhere But Here by John Hayes, have now been approved to enter the long list for the Short Film competition of the 2016 Academy Awards.

James Mullighan, creative director of the Cork Film Festival, said: “It is such an honour to achieve this status and the winners of both our short film awards this year are worthy recipients of this opportunity.”

The Irish Shorts Jury also chose the winner of the CorkShorts prize, won this year by Tadhg McSweeney, Painter – A Film Portrait, by Dónal Ó Céilleachair.

Regarding Anywhere But Here, the winner of the Grand Prix Irish award, the jury said it featured a mature and beautifully handled script about loss, in addition to kind and compassionate performances by Doru Micu and Lisa Reilly.

This year’s festival also included a new award, the Gradam Spiorad na Fhéile (Spirit of the Festival Award), won by The Tribe, by Ukrainian filmmaker Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy. Described as a powerful dramatic thriller, The Tribe is entirely in Russian sign language, with no subtitles, yet made for a hearing audience. The closing gala and awards ceremony of the 59th Cork Film Festival took place at Cork Opera House last night, signing off with a special screening of a digitally-restored version of Stanley Kubrick’s classic 2001: A Space Odyssey.

James Mullighan said this year’s festival “displayed a previously unsurpassed depth of creativity and talent” and added: “It has been a very successful festival, culminating in the announcement that it is now recognised as an Academy qualifying festival for the Short Film Awards.”

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