Much of this year’s Cork French Film Festival is about “using music to meander through French classics”, according to Paul Callanan, who has programmed the 25th anniversary event.
French cinema has always been ‘le doyen’ of the sexy soundtrack and this collaboration between image and sound is championed at this year’s event, which runs for a week from Sunday.
The iconic Un Homme et Une Femme will be screened at the Gate on Tuesday. Just like Jacques Demy’s Lola, which runs the evening before, the Claude Lelouch feature stars the devastatingly beautiful Anouk Aimée, a single parent who because of a chance encounter leaving a school event sees an initially undesired romance blossom.
The uncertainty and tenderness that ensue play out to a 1960s soundtrack composed by Jacques Lal which intermingles French jazz, pop, rock and Brazilian bossa-nova, and which becomes as much the film as the story itself.
Another French film that became synonymous with its soundtrack is The Big Blue.
It centres on the rivalry between Enzo Molinari and his childhood friend, Jacques Mayol, as they compete for the world freestyle diving title to the haunting sound of Eric Serra’s score. This film marked the first time that Luc Besson used Serra in his films. The two would continue to work together on Subway, Leon and Nikita.
The White Stripes and David Bowie also feature at this year’s event as part of movies which became renowned for their musical scores, including The Science of Sleep and The Night is Young. Daft Punk’s dystopian vision, Electroroma, renowned for its cinematography as well as its soundtrack, will be screened at the Gate on Saturday, March 8.
But the film legacy of Jacques Demy is at the heart of this year’s 25th anniversary celebrations with the Demy retrospective. Demy was a director for whom music always played a starring role.
It is fitting that the 25th anniversary also celebrates the relationship between Ireland and France. In 2011, Rosalie Varda-Demy, daughter of Demy and acclaimed director, Agnes Varda, travelled with her mother to Cork for the film festival’s retrospective on Varda. Two years later, Varda-Demy encouraged Paul and Nora Callanan, festival director, to visit a groundbreaking exhibition on her father at the Cinematheque in Paris.
“This year’s programme evolved from that trip. It is fantastic that Cork audiences have the chance to see so many films that could have been lost, that had degraded on film but now have been remastered and preserved,” says Paul Callanan.
There are two standout events at this year’s festival. One is The Fall of the House of Usher, which will be screened at St Finbarr’s Cathedral with a live score from Cork composer Irene Buckley. Described as “an ethereal lament for voice electronics and organ”, this Gothic masterpiece is “definitely not one to miss, it’s exquisite,” says Callanan.
Neil Brand of the BBC’s ‘Sound of Cinema’ will present his acclaimed show ‘The Silent Pianist Speaks with Neil Brand’ at the English Market on Wednesday. It pays homage to the stars of the silent era and tickets include show and supper à la Parisienne.
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