“It’s a very interesting film,” says Ann FitzGerald, a barrister, one of the five voluntary members of the Cork Cine Club committee. “A multinational company manages to take over the water supply of an indigenous population which fights back. It stars Gael García Bernal.”
For FitzGerald and the other committee members, running the Cine Club is very much a labour of love. They hope St John’s Central College will be their permanent home, having previously screened films at the Half Moon Theatre and the Crawford Art Gallery. With film courses taught at St John’s Central College, FitzGerald says it’s an appropriate venue.
Ultimately, FitzGerald and her team would like to see Cork Cine Club becoming redundant and an art house cinema set up in the city, to replace the Kino Cinema which closed three years ago. “It’s quite a lot of work to organise the club. But at the moment, there seems to be a need for it. We’re quite happy to keep going. We get a kick out of it and people are very appreciative.”
If the Cork Cine Club makes a profit, the money is ploughed back into it. “When the Kino closed down, a committee to save the Kino was set up. They raised a certain amount of money. The committee disbanded when it wasn’t possible to reopen the Kino. That committee donated about 2,000 to us. That gives us a little bit of a cushion. We’ve managed to break even most of the time but not all the time because our expenses have been substantial enough. We’re getting them under control now; we’ve bought a projector (which used to be hired before) and we hope to break even when the new season starts.”
The Cork Cine Club has 500 members. “It’s free to join but people have to join as members to satisfy Access Cinema’s requirements.” Access Cinema is an Arts Council-funded body that supplies films to 80 different clubs throughout the country.
Twice a year, Access Cinema organises gatherings of people running cinema clubs and shows films over two weekends. “I was at the most recent gathering which was held in Limerick’s Belltable Arts Centre. We all reviewed the films we were shown and had a meeting with the Arts Council about developing our audiences in order to give a better service and to try and involve our audience more. There’s different ways of doing that. We can look for feedback from our audience, we can run competitions and we can ask people to become involved directly.”
Cork Cine Club has what FitzGerald calls an “added value” element. “We show a short film before the main screening. Often, we’ll offer a glass of wine to people before the film and we try to arrange meeting up in a pub after the screening.”
The club is not in competition with Triskel Christchurch, which shows art house films and documentaries from Sunday to Wednesday. “The IFI (Irish Film Institute) supplies the Triskel with films. We have a co-operative relationship with Triskel. They’ve been good to us and we’ve been good to them. We share their opinion that the more art house cinema there is in the city, the better. There doesn’t seem to be any prospect of the Kino re-opening so between the two of us, there is a bit of variety on offer.”
FitzGerald’s personal favourite upcoming films include Free Men directed by Ismael Ferroukhi. It’s about the little-known story of how the Muslim community in Paris risked their lives to protect their Jewish brethren during the Second World War. She is also looking forward to seeing Monseiur Lazhar again. This Canadian film, about a substitute teacher arriving at a school in a time of need, was shown briefly in Cork before.
Films selected by Cork Cine Club reflect the taste of the committee, as well its prediction of what will appeal to audiences.
Maeve Cooke, director of Access Cinema, says there has been a huge growth in the art house cinema sector in Ireland in the last six years. “When I first joined Access in 2006, we had 35 members. Now, we have 80. People have become much more aware of the existence of Access Cinema. Also, the technology makes it easier and cheaper for community groups to screen films. The basis for film clubs is the idea of the shared experience of different types of films.”
Cork Cine Club’s up-coming season: Even the Rain (Spanish), Oct 11; Margaret (USA), Oct 18; Breathing (German), Oct 25; Free Men (French), Nov 1; Beauty (South African), Nov 8; Monsieur Lazhar (French), Nov 15; Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Turkish), Nov 22; Le Harve (French), Nov 29; Brooklyn Brothers etc (English), Dec 6; The Kid with a Bike (French), Dec 13. See www.corkcineclub.com