What's in store at the Cork French Film Festival?

The 31st Cork French Film Festival gets underway on Wednesday march 4 and runs until Sunday March 8. Here Valérie David-McGonnell and Josselin Le Gall, Board Directors of Alliance Française de Cork and Directors of the Cork French Film Festival tells us what is in store
What's in store at the Cork French Film Festival?
From left: John Mullins, Festival Chairman; Cllr. John Sheehan, Lord Mayor of Cork; Deirdre Clune, MEP; Valérie David-McGonnell, Alliance Francaise; Deputy French Ambassador, Lionel Paradisi-Coulouma; Grace Neville, Alliance Francaise and Joselin Le Gall, Hon. French Consul at the launch of the 31st Cork French Film Festival which took place at the River Lee Hotel.The Festival will run from Wednesday 4th March to Sunday 8th March and takes place at The Gate Cinema, Cork. Pic: Brian Lougheed

THE Alliance Française de Cork French Film Festival, which has been part of Cork City’s cultural programme for the last 31 years, has launched its 2020 programme featuring some of the greatest French film directors and actors. It will run from Wednesday March 4 to Sunday March 8 at The Gate Cinema. It will feature 16 amazing films, as well as a family screening and a three-film programme for secondary schools on March 3, 4 and 5.

Cork is a Francophile city and many Irish people are interested in the French language as well as in different cultural aspects traditionally associated with France, such as food, fashion and cinema. The positive relationship between France and Ireland has deep historical roots. For example, France was a place of refuge and education for Irish Catholics during the Penal Laws in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and Ireland welcomed exiled French-speaking Huguenots in the eighteenth century. 

A Huguenot cemetery is still visible today in Cork, right in the middle of the city centre, in French Church Street; In 1798, France’s attempt to help the United Irishmen, although unsuccessful, is still remembered today; In the 19th century, the French Catholic Church raised money and sent food to starving people in Ireland, and Irish people organised a fund-raising campaign and created an Irish ambulance initiative to help French civilians during the 1870-1871 Franco-Prussian War, as highlighted by Professor Grace Neville, Vice-President of Alliance Française de Cork, in one of her research articles about Franco-Irish relations[1]; Today, many Irish people travel to France for their holidays, business ties between our two countries are strong and should continue to develop in this post-Brexit era, and French remains the most studied foreign language in schools in Cork and in Ireland in general. The morning school screenings which we propose every year are very popular, and many secondary-school students and teachers attend our festival.

At Alliance Française de Cork, we do not just teach French as a Foreign Language to adults, teenagers and children, we also run classes for children who have French as one of their first languages, as there is quite a big French community in Cork which is very supportive of our festival.

Besides bringing a French-language cinematic experience to Cork audiences, the Cork French Film Festival aims to provide an insight into French culture, as well as Francophone cultures and societies. This year’s edition features diverse French-language films and includes an exciting documentary about the art street scene in Kinshasa, a film presented in association with the French Embassy in Ireland as part of the March Francophonie Festival and in resonance with the upcoming Africa 2020 Season in France.

And, of course, our Cork French Film Festival is not just for Francophiles, it is for cinema-lovers in general.

The Opening Night film is ‘Proxima’ starring Eva Green and Matt Dillon, which was the French film nominee for Best Foreign Language Film Oscar and Golden Globes. It is directed by French filmmaker Alice Winocour. This film was shot in various real training facilities at the European Space Agency. It tells the story of Sarah, a woman trying to balance her work as an astronaut preparing for a year-long stint on the International Space Station with her family life as a mother to her eight-year-old daughter Stella.

The Closing Night film is ‘The Truth’ (La Verité), a 2019 French-Japanese drama film, written and directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda. It stars two of the most internationally known French actresses, Catherine Deneuve and Juliette Binoche. It is Kore-eda's first film set outside Japan and not in his native language. It is about the reunion and difficult relationship between a film star and her daughter.

The films in this year’s Cork French Film Festival have won a total of 29 awards. For instance, ‘Les Misérables’ by Ladj Ly (screening on March 7) won the Best Film award in the 2020 César ceremony, the French equivalent of the Oscars. This film, which is about the tension between the police and the inhabitants of underprivileged suburbs in Paris, was also nominated in the Best International Feature Film category in the Academy Awards and in the Best Foreign Language Film category in the Golden Globes.

We are very grateful to our Guest Festival Curator, Marie-Pierre Richard, and our Festival Production Team, Úna Feely and Mick Hannigan, for their fantastic work. We would also like to thank our sponsors and partners which include The French Embassy, the Arts Council, the Cork City Council / Arts Office, Amarenco, the Port Of Cork, CIT, River Lee Hotel, UCC Department of French, the Gate Cinema, Institut Français, the IFI, the Consular Agency of France in Cork, The Friary, Digipix, No-filter, the Cork French Teachers’ Association, and Café Marius. 

For more details about this year’s programme, please see https://corkfrenchfilmfestival.com/

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