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As the Cork Film Festival heads into its 62nd year, the shorts programme is stronger than ever, with more than 2,800 submissions this year. That’s a lot of watching for the festival previewers, a task to which they are more than equal, says shorts programmer Don O’Mahony. “In one sense, it makes our job easier; the chances of finding good stuff within that are pretty high but it also makes our job tougher because it is a lot of films to get through. Fortunately, we have a great team that knows the standards we strive for.”
The festival features 15 programmes of Irish and international shorts, 12 of which are in competition. While a short film is often viewed as a calling card to attract funding for a feature, O’Mahony says its merit as an art form in itself is undeniable. This year’s festival has a particular focus on documentaries, and O’Mahony says the short form enhances the power of this kind of storytelling.
Themes covered include grief, body image, mental illness and creativity. Ones to watch out for are Spike, about a British soldier in Northern Ireland who is dealing with posttraumatic stress; The Whistleblower which offers a personal viewpoint on the Sallins mail train robbery; and Condom Man, about those who provided frontline and core services for haemophiliacs and other HIV/
AIDS patients, and ultimately saved lives.
The Best of Cork strand of shorts is always a big draw at the festival and this year is no different with many fascinating stories being showcased. O’Mahony describes Joe,
Searching, directed by Naoimh Reilly, as “a punch in the gut”. It tells the story of a man searching for women who went missing in the 1990s and his frustration at the lack of response from officials. Also featured is Jack Scott’s Wood, directed by Noel Holmes, which won Best Short at the Russian International Horror Festival and was filmed around Farran Woods and the Gunpowder Mills in Ballincollig. The quirky comedy Gustav, directed by Ken Williams and Denis Fitzpatrick, the lead character wakes up to find the music of composer Gustav Mahler has taken up residence in his head.
One of the eagerly anticipated shorts screening at this year’s festival is Benjamin Cleary’s Wave, narrated by musician Jarvis Cocker. Another much-awaited short is For
You, from Cork filmmaker Brendan Canty, who directed the memorable video for Hozier’s Take Me to
Church. For You features rising star Barry Keoghan, who appeared in
Dunkirk earlier this year and has been attracting a huge buzz for his role in the upcoming The Killing of a
Sacred Deer alongside Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman. Marjorie Brennan