Festival: Cork Film Festival to focus on documentaries in 60th edition

Documentary films will form nearly half of the programme of the 60th Edition of the Cork Film Festival, making the Festival Ireland’s premier destination for documentary. The Festival also announces two prizes for documentary films – one each for features and shorts.

With just under three months to go before the Festival team announces programming for its 60th Edition (on Tuesday October 13th) – and with its summer screening series Films at Fitzy’s (July 29th – August 6th) in Fitzgerald’s Park, Mardyke, Cork City doing brisk business – this announcement is the first glimpse at what Creative Director James Mullighan and his programming team are planning for the important anniversary.

[quote title=”James Mullighan – Cork Film Festival, Creative Director”]I’ve been hugely gratified with the way Cork audiences have responded to the documentary programming in my first two years. We’ve thrown some bold, difficult films at them, and they’ve lapped them up. Documentary is a rapidly evolving genre, where vision and aesthetic are becoming as important as story. And, as artist and stills photographers are trying their arms, the form is becoming more and more cinematic – you hear terms like ‘ravishingly shot’ and ‘lyrically beautiful’. We are entering a golden age of the Cinematic Documentary, and I want the Cork Film Festival – as the pioneering film Festival in Ireland – to be at the vanguard of this change, known globally as a champion of these important, entertaining works of art.[/quote]

For this years Edition (which runs November 6th to 15th) the Festival, principally funded by the Arts Council Ireland, is significantly increasing the role of documentary filmmaking in the event, with initiatives including: two new awards for feature and short documentary films; strong documentary focus in both programme and industry facing events; an ongoing collaboration with the Festival’s recently announced Principal Partner RTÉ; soon to be announced documentary filmmaker special guests for public facing events and invitation only masterclasses for Cork and Irish filmmakers; building on the platform of Illuminate – the Festival’s mental health strand – with the expansion of the discursive programme, where films and experts come together to explore some of the burning social issues of our time; and collaborations with the UK’s Shooting People, Docheads and Crossover.

The Festival has in recent years given the Irish premiers of works that have gone on to take the world by storm. In 2014: The Overnighters, Jesse Moss; Silvered Water, Syria Self Portrait, Ossama Mohammed, Wiam Simav Bedirxan; and 1971, Johanna Hamilton. In 2013: Here One Day, Kathy Leichter; Leviathan, Veéreeéna Paravel and Lucian Castaing-Taylor; Mistaken for Strangers, Tom Beringer; and The Punk Singer, Sini Anderson. Documentary films – especially those that deserve a big screen – play well to the Cork Film Festival’s curious audiences.

In 2014 filmmakers Tadhg O’Sullivan’s and Feargal Ward’s creative documentary Yximalloo was selected to compete for An Gradam Spiorad na Fhéile / Spirit of the Festival Award. This year O’Sullivan joins the new jury for An Gradam an Fhéile do Scannáin Faisnéis / the Cork Film Festival’s new Award for Cinematic Documentary Features, meaning there are now two international prizes for feature films which present ‘bold ideas, well told’: one for fiction, one for documentaries.

O’Sullivan is joined by the Claire Aguilar (Jury Chair), Director of Programming and Industry Engagement, Sheffield Documentary Film Festival, and Colm O’Callaghan, Ceannasaí Cláracha Gaeilge, Education and Science, RTÉ Television. The Jury will also select a short film from the hundreds submitted to the Festival in the winter and spring for a new documentary Short Award which forms an integral part of Shorts@CFF, the ‘Festival within a Festival’ dedicated to short film.

The Short Award is also eligible for either (or possibly both) the Grands Prix Irish and International short, which prizes are Academy Awards® accredited. Any British winner will be eligible for entry to the BAFTAs, and the Grand Prix International shorts jury make a nomination to the European Film Academy. Submissions for both features and shorts remain open until midnight BST Saturday 1 August, with fees for Cork filmmakers remaining at the Early Bird price of €10.

Speaking of her vision for An Gradam an Fhéile do scannáin faisnéis / the Cork Film Festival’s new Award for Cinematic Documentary Features, the Director of that award, Ruby McGuigan, the Festival’s Head of Documentary, commented on the plan to celebrate beauty and creativity in non-fiction storytelling, with six shortlisted works uniquely suited to the big screen experience.

[quote title=”Ruby McGuigan, Cork Film Festival, Gradam an Fheile Director”]Increasingly we are seeing documentary films infiltrating mainstream cinema, earning critical acclaim and box office success. Now feels like the perfect time to showcase the best they have to offer, shining a light on an emerging pattern of ambitious, experimental works from filmmakers no longer constrained by perceptions of the genre as best suited to television and history lessons. This award celebrates documentary as an international art form, highlighting the unique beauty, horror and visceral impact that true events have to offer.[/quote]

Away from the silver screen, the Festival’s newly expanded Talent Development Programme offers several stages for discussions about documentary. The Festival has negotiated generous discounts for Irish, UK and beyond filmmakers to form a part of this essential campus for emerging filmmakers, of whatever stripe.

The continuing professional development conference for independent filmmakers INCUBATE will offer several discussion panels and training sessions aimed squarely at creating and promoting documentary. Topics will include pitching, licensing and permissions, approaching the festival circuit and how to make the most of networking opportunities.

The ever-popular FUND returns, a holistic symposium about all matters financial with getting films made and seen. An expanded LISTEN programme will offer learnings and networking opportunities for filmmakers – features and shorts, documentary, hybrids and fictions – to better understand the creative processes of sound arts, designers and composers.

The adjacent ‘film meets digital’ conference, Interactive@Cork, will be produced in collaboration for the first time with cross platform experts Crossover (presenters of The Crossover Summit at the Sheffield International Documentary Festival every June). Innovative approaches to documentary will be demonstrated and discussed, from immersive media and virtual reality to correctly utilising online resources and tools.

To help launch this turbo charging of documentary, the Festival is welcoming to Cork for the first time representatives from Docheads, the UK documentary filmmaker support organisation. Europe’s leading network for independent filmmakers Shooting People will also make their Cork debut, working with the Talent Development programme on a series of choreographed networking events, and presenting a panel ‘How To Festival’.

Submissions for shorts and features for the 6th Cork Film Festival are open until midnight BST, Saturday 1 August. More information available here.