A feast of movies at Cork Film Festival 2022

CARA O’DOHERTY runs through this year’s agenda for the Cork International Film Festival this month
A feast of movies at Cork Film Festival 2022

Aftersun, which features at the Cork International Film Festival

THE Cork International Film Festival is one of the oldest such events in the world.

It is celebrating its 67th year with a programme bursting with the best of films from home and abroad. As well as features, there are documentaries, short films, and industry talks.

Fiona Clark, Festival Director, says that after last year’s smaller hybrid festival, it is great to be back with a full in-person event.

“Last year, everyone was naturally concerned about Covid; this year, we can focus on celebrating fantastic storytelling, getting people together, talking, eating, drinking and watching films and enjoying Cork, all those things that festivals should be about.”

This year’s opening film, Aisha, is directed by Frank Berry and stars Black Panther’s Letitia Wright and The Crown’s Josh O’Connor. Berry has a long history with the festival, and Clark is delighted to have his latest film open it.

A scene from the film Aisha
A scene from the film Aisha

“I am so excited for people to see this. It is a contemporary story set in Ireland’s direct provision system; it is tender and beautifully observed. Frank is a compassionate filmmaker. He worked with people with lived experiences to ensure the film is authentic.”

Berry says he is looking forward to bringing his film to Cork.

“We are honoured and proud for Aisha to screen as the opening film at this year’s Cork International Film Festival. To screen a film in Cork is always a special experience, and we are very much looking forward to sharing it with Cork audiences.”

Clark says film festivals should be a platform for films that encourage conversation and inspire action. Aisha will have a second screening during the festival with a post-screening panel conversation.

Olivia Coleman’s latest film, Empire If Light, will close the festival. Clark says it is a love letter to cinema which touches on many themes.

“It is set in the UK in the 1980s; the far-right is rising, and racism is growing. Coleman’s character is a cinema manager who meets a young man, and they bond. People will come out of it feeling like it’s rounded off their festival; they’ll feel warmed by it.”

Other prominent films include Armageddon Time with Anthony Hopkins and Anne Hathaway, The Corsage with Vicky Krieps, and Nocebo starring Eva Green, directed by IFTA-winning filmmaker Lorcan Finnegan.

The festival has several strands, and the Culinary Strand is set to whet imagination and appetite, screened alongside a culinary treat.

Clark says The Menu, starring Ralph Fiennes, is a particular delicacy for film fans.

“The Menu is darkly delicious. Food is so important to Cork people, so it makes sense to stage three films about food with really delicious food.”

Family film is a big part of the festival, and this year sees the premiere of the eagerly awaited Matilda The Musical based on the Roald Dahl classic. A young Irish actor, Alisha Weir, takes the lead in the film and will introduce it at the premiere.

 The Ghost Of Richard Harris
The Ghost Of Richard Harris

“Everybody loves Roald Dahl, and we’re delighted that Sony gave permission to screen the film; it was such a big hit on the stage.

“We also have the new Disney animation Strange World. 2022 is the beginning of Disney’s 100th anniversary; we’re proud to be able to celebrate the wonder of animation.”

Paul Mescal is always a big draw and his latest film Aftersun, which recently played at the Cannes Film Festival, wowed audiences, and critics alike.

“I was lucky enough to see it at Cannes and sat there with my jaw on the floor. It’s an unexpected and understated story about a father and his young daughter. It is Paul Mescal’s best performance. It is hard to describe the film, but it stays with you.”

As part of the Decade of Centenaries, the festival will show a special screening of Ken Loach’s Palme d’Or winning The Wind That Shakes the Barley, which stars Corkman Cillian Murphy.

Clark says it is important to support the Centenary events and it is an excellent opportunity to see the film on the big screen again.

“The Wind The Shakes The Barley rarely gets a cinema outing; it is such a strong film; it deserves to have that opportunity again.”

Clark says it ties in with the Cork Film Trail, which features costumes from film and television in four locations across the city.

“We have Olivia Colman’s dress from The Favorite, outfits from Normal People, and Cillian Murphy’s costume from The Wind That Shakes The Barley. Each costume is connected to a podcast which leads back to a digital archive which charts the history of film in Cork.”

On the documentary front, all eyes will be on The Ghost Of Richard Harris, who was in the news lately when the late actor’s family gave his archive of letters and personal effects to UCC.

A scene from Strange World
A scene from Strange World

Clark says the documentary gives fresh insight into the legendary Limerick actor’s life.

“It is such an interesting documentary which took over ten years to make and was made in collaboration with his family. It’s a rich depiction of Richard Harris as an actor, singer, poet and hellraiser. We learn what drove one of the best actors that Ireland has produced. The love and closeness of the family come across as powerful.”

The festival also has a small online programme with some shorts, features, and documentaries. “Our focus is being back in person, but we’ve all learned that there’s room online for people who can’t make it to the festival but want to participate. It is important to include them.”

The 67th Cork International Film Festival runs from November 10-20. For more, see corkfilmfest.org

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