Culture

Cork International Film Festival goes online for it’s 65th birthday

The world of cinema has been upended by Covid-19, with festivals such as Cannes, London and Toronto forced to drastically change their planned festivies for this year.

Cork International Film Festival is no exception, and this year’s disruption is made more pertinent by virture of the festival celebrating it’s 65th birthday this year.

But rather than let the pandemic disrupt the landmark year, the festival took it in it’s stride.

Festival Director of Programming, Anna Kopecká said “We knew since early May that we will have to plan differently this year and we started working on several versions of the festival.”

“In June we started our online CIFF film club so that our audience was able to join us online and enjoy great movie events even during lockdown.”

“This way we also tested our digital platform and thanks to that we are now confident that we can deliver a great digital-only festival.”

“I had to change some of the previous plans and reduce the number of movies, but I do believe that we are keeping our high standards and will offer an exclusive and exciting programme.”

“We are also celebrating with showing classic films that had their Irish premieres in Cork and with the launch of our  festival archive project,” she added.

The slate of films at this year’s festival is sure to please even the most ardent film buffs, with Oscar-tipped Nomandland, Abel Ferrera’s newest film Siberia, and upcoming Pixar film Soul among the films on show.

Nomadland' Review: Frances McDormand Embraces Vagabond Life - Variety
Oscar-tipped: Frances McDormand in Nomandland, one of the films on show at the Cork International Film Festival

When asked about what goes into acquiring such films, Kopecká said “Distributors, producers and sales agents know CIFF, and trust us that we will treat their movies in the best possible way. I am happy to say that this year everybody is supportive and, as we all know that the film industry is going through tough times so it is more than ever important to support each other.”

The festival has an electic mix of films, from Hollywood fare to Israeli rom-coms and Brazilian skateboarding dramas.

The task of acquiring such films, and curating them was no easy task.

“It is a long process. You are looking for the best movies but also you are trying to represent different regions, different voices, views, different genres,” explained Kopecká.

“The festival should offer something to anyone, but keep our vision and quality standards. We always look for great new Irish movies, because that is one of our priorities.”

“If you want to know what is the most difficult part, it is finding a good comedy and I am happy to say that we found some great ones for this year’s edition.”

The festival’s Gala screening this year is The Racer, a Dramedy that takes place during Ireland’s hosting of a Tour De France leg in 1998.

“Who said you can’t wear high heels and drink champagne in your living room,” joked Kopecká.

Premiere: The Racer is the Gala screening at this year’s festival

Discussing the importance of Munster having such a prestigious film festival on its doorstep, Kopecká said “The festival gives international visibility to the region and promotes Munster as a region where you go for arts and culture, and not just beautiful nature and sports.”

“Most importantly, the festival is here for people who live in Cork and in Munster.”

“The festival is celebrating 65 years, and that means 65 years of building the name and great business relations in Ireland and overseas.”

She added “We care deeply for our audience because arts and movies are important and even more so now that we are all living through times. Art can help to lift up our mood, find different perspectives, new interesting things that can enrich our lives even when in lockdown.”

With the festival such a touchstone of Munster’s cultural heritage, the festival is taking the time this year to commemorate the events of 1920.

One of the films on show is The Irish Destiny, a film from 1926.

Special screening of 'Irish Destiny' - Independent.ie
Restored: The Irish Destiny, a film long believed to be lost is on show at the festival

The film was long considered lost, but according to Kopecká a nitrate copy was found in the US Library of Congress in the 1990s, and since then the film has been moved to the collection in the Irish Film Institute, where it has been restored and digitalised.

The film is paired with centenary newsreels, and shown with musical accompaniment by Cork violinist Brendan Garde.

The Cork Film Festival runs from November 5th until November 15th.

The full festival line-up can be found at corkfilmfest.org.

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