Culture feature, Like magazine, October 2015. Click to enlarge. Read below.
Celebrating its 60th birthday this year, the Cork Film Festival continues to hold its own as one of the most exciting events on the arts calendar. One-time student volunteer at the festival, Eileen O’Shea has returned to Cork for 2015, this time as Festival Manager.
As the team behind the Cork Film Festival gear up to bring us another exciting programme of events for 2015, they do so in the knowledge that this is a landmark for the event, as it celebrates its 60th year. With the tagline “Films. Music. Ideas”, this year’s festival will bring us the best of contemporary world cinema, alongside a lively and varied programme of music on film, and a series of events using film to explore some of the burning issues of our time.
For Festival Manager Eileen O’Shea there couldn’t be a more exciting time to be involved in Ireland’s longest running film festival. Having volunteered with the festival as a theatre and drama student in UCC, Eileen’s burgeoning career then took her to London, where, for nine years, she worked in operations and event management within the film industry.
“There’s something about this city that I really love,” she says of her decision to return to Cork. “It’s got great character and ambition.” When a position with the Cork Film Festival opened up, she jumped at the chance to return to the “quality arts scene here”, and on moving back to Cork she found herself “amazed by the durability of arts organisations here during the recession.”
“It really shows there is a huge passion for the arts within the city, and this forms a big part of the profile of Cork. I was always impressed with what was going on in Cork culturally, but since being away for so long and returning to see great events like Ignite at Culture Night, and the Midsummer Festival, I would say that in terms of quality and ambition it has gone from strength to strength. It really does feel like a great time to be in the city.”
And equally it’s a great time for the Cork Film Festival, with several exciting additions like a Talent Development Campus, an award for Cinematic Documentary, and a partnership with RTÉ securing the Festival’s reputation as one of Ireland’s flagship cultural events; while accreditation from the Academy Awards — obtained in 2014 — has allowed the festival to take a place on the world stage as a significant international film event.
“We secured the accreditation last November,” explains Eileen, “and since then we have seen a 30% increase in films submitted for selection. Both the quantity and quality of films have increased this year as the Academy Awards accreditation is a major step for filmmakers, attracting professional and emerging artists alike to submit their work to the Festival.
“For Cork Film Festival to be a potential route to an Oscar nomination is an incredible honour.”
In a vibrant and jam–packed cultural calendar, the Cork Film Festival has no difficulty staying relevant, because as Eileen points out, “the filmmakers keep the Festival fresh each year, with contemporary work being submitted and selected as it is released”. Technology too plays a part in keeping this 60–year–old event firmly in the 21st century. “When I last volunteered at the Festival, the online activity was still in its early stages and digital cinema was a long way off,” says Eileen. “As is the way with technology, a lot has changed in a relatively short time.”
“The move from 35mm print to digital makes it more feasible to get films from all over the world,” she points out. “We are always looking for ways to celebrate emerging ideas and work, and access to this is made all the easier now.”
So what can film fans expect from this year’s programme? Eileen is somewhat coy, preferring to “leave some things to be discovered”, though she proudly reveals that Oscar winner Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs will premiere at the festival, “which should have a great Cork interest”. “Our Opening and Closing Galas are both big Irish premieres too, and we are very proud to be screening them for the first time at Cork Film Festival.”
“As it’s our 60th edition we wanted to create a truly unforgettable experience in Cork. This year we announced RTÉ as a principal partner, and we’ll have a performance of Brief Encounter accompanied by RTÉ Concert Orchestra in the Cork Opera House. It should be an absolutely magical night.”
The Cork Film Festival runs from November 6th to 15th. For event listings and booking information see corkfilmfest.org; follow @CorkFilmFest, and find them on Facebook at facebook.com/CorkFilmFestival.