Credits roll on fiesta of film

THE closing night of the Cork Film Festival has always been a fitting finale to Ireland’s premier fiesta of film, but this year there was an extra buzz in the air.

As survivors of the week-long campaign shared war stories of a surfeit of celluloid, the talk turned to next year - and to the surprise film entry from 1980s Brat Pack star Andrew McCarthy.

While figures have yet to be quantified, press officer Norah Norton reported a “significant increase on last year in the number of full houses - in all venues”.

Next year is the 50th birthday of the Cork Film Festival. With this year’s festival all but done and dusted, festival director Mick Hannigan, in his closing night speech, reflected on past glories, but also looked forward to an exciting future.

The Irish Examiner-sponsored Made In Cork award - with a prize of €1,000 for a short film - was won by Pádraig Trehy for My First Motion Picture.

The Jameson Award for Best Irish Short Film, with a €6,000 prize, went to Ken Wardrop for Undressing My Mother.

The Claire Lynch Award For Best First Irish Short was won by the internationally renowned playwright Martin McDonagh for Six Shooter. It is the first venture into film for the writer of The Beauty Queen Of Leenane.

McDonagh received €1,000 from Cork Film Festival and €5,000 facilities from UCD Audio-Visual Centre.

The Gradam Gael Linn award for a short film in the Irish language, with a €3,000 prize sponsored by Gael Linn, went to An Díog Is Faide, directed by Hugh Farley.

The award for Best International Short Film with a prize of €4,000 was shared by two filmmakers - Andrea Arnold, director of Wasp and Sam Huntley, director of Polish Your Shoes.

The audience award for Best Irish Short went to Fluent Dysphasia, by Daniel O’Hara, while the audience award for Best International Short saw Ken Wardrop pick up a second award for Undressing My Mother.

The Cork Film Festival has always had a reputation as a safe haven for the stars to lay low and play it cool.

However, one of the shiniest in the constellation of ’80s bratpackers, Andrew McCarthy - not much heard of in recent years - took his low profile one step further. On Friday night, his short film, News For The Church, based on a Frank O’Connor story, was screened before the main feature, Yasmin.

When the film was first submitted, there was no reference to the illustrious career of the star of Pretty In Pink, St Elmo’s Fire and Mannequin.

As Mick Hannigan said, a name like that was obviously of Irish stock, possibly even of Cork descent, so the film was included with Irish shorts.

McCarthy recalled a visit to Cork 18 years ago, when he bought a collection of short stories by O’Connor in a local bookshop without being aware of the writer’s connection with the city.

“I read the story in my hotel room the night I bought it and decided there and then that I wanted to make a film of the story,” recalled McCarthy.

After the screening, McCarthy admitted to being very nervous: “I was wondering how an Irish audience would react to me, an American, coming and making this film.”

The closing film, Look At Me (Comme Une Image), a French comedy was greatly enjoyed by a packed Opera House audience.

As the closing credits rolled on another successful festival, plans were already beginning for next year’s special celebration of film.

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