A question of taste: James Mullighan

JAMES MULLIGHAN is in his second year as programme director of the Cork Film Festival, which runs until Sunday. Originally from South Australia, he has worked at Sony Classical and Columbia records, as well as helming the Edinburgh International Film Festival.

A question of taste: James Mullighan

Best recent book: One of the biggest Australian movies around at the moment is a portmanteau adaptation of Tim Winton’s short story collection The Turning, with each chapter made by an entirely different cast and crew. I felt I should revisit it before seeing the movie.

Best recent film: First, South Australian resident Rolf de Heer’s amazing Charlie’s Country, which opened the festival. Second, I was blown away by the power and strangeness of Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy’s The Tribe, a gripping drama with no dialogue or titling.

Best recent exhibition: At the Royal Academy in London, a thorough survey of the German conceptual artist, painter and more, Anselm Kiefer.

Best piece of music you’ve been listening to lately: Earlier this year I became rather obsessed with the eponymous album by the Gloaming.

New to the ear buds is an older album The Love That Won’t Shut Up, by the Opal Foxx quartet.

First ever piece of music really moved you: As a child, my aunt took me to see a performance of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra in which my cousin was playing. I remember been amazed at the ‘metronome’ movement of Beethoven’s Eighth Symphony - how could so many people play perfectly together, and how could a noise that loud be made with no microphones? I’ve been hooked on classical music since.

TV viewing: I watch ‘television’ only for news and cricket coverage. I use my television to watch films that are submitted to the festival, or we are considering. I have a Netflix account, like many, purchased for Breaking Bad.

Radio listening: RTÉ 1 (I’m a big fan of the South Wind Blows, and try not to miss it) and Lyric FM; Today FM; BBC’s Radio 4, 3 and World Service; and masses of podcasts.

An emerging talent to watch out for: Actors Hannah Arterton and Rea Mole, co stars of the amazing ensemble experimental drama Hide and Seek, which is in competition at the festival. Both are coming to introduce the film.

Best recent holiday: I was fortunate enough to be invited to attend the Puerto Vallarta ‘extension’ of the amazing Guadalajara International Film Festival in Mexico this year. The ‘town’ is almost a John Huston theme park, as he shot his adaptation of Night of the Iguana there. Everywhere you go, there’s memorabilia: the John Huston stationery store, the Richard Burton Internet Cafe, the Liz Taylor gay steam rooms.

Your best celebrity encounter: I was marketing manager for Columbia records in Sydney in the mid 1990s. We released a Julio Iglesias greatest hits album, and I had dinner with his retinue after a show. When I was introduced, he grabbed me by both shoulders, pulled me in tight, shouted ‘Welcome to the family!!’ and kissed me on the mouth. My mother was very jealous.

Most expensive item of clothing you’ve ever bought: A $1,000 Paul Smith suit, which my friends clubbed together to buy me for my 40th birthday.

Tech habits: I have five Apple products: separate iPhones for the UK and Ireland, an iMac at the office, and laptop and iPad when on the move. Of all of their combined potency the weirdly trivial thing that I most appreciate is that the calendar is synced to all. My favourite apps are My Tide Times, so I can go look at the River Lee from the terrace of the Electric when the river is full; and AFL’s app, so I can follow the fortunes of my beloved Port Adelaide Football Club.

Unsung heroes: Australian jazz/improv band The Necks.

Hot topic: We try at the festival, not only to play movies that give audiences a wonderful 90+ minute diversion from their lives, but also to foster discussion; it is a mission of mine to do what little I can to eradicate irrational social panic. Hence our ‘Illuminate’ strand of mental health presentations this year.

More in this section


Did you miss our Virtual Event with Alison O’Connor, Aoife Moore, Clodagh Finn, Derval O’Rourke and Vicky Phelan

Home Delivery


Have the Irish Examiner delivered to your door. No delivery charge. Just pay the cover price.