Six decades of shock­ing the na­tion

Thank­fully, Cork’s film doyenne shows no signs of grow­ing old grace­fully

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - TICKET STUBS - Don­ald Clarke

This week­end, the Cork Film Fes­ti­val of­fers us its 60th edi­tion. That can’t be right. That dates it to 1956, when pri­ests still flung them­selves an­grily be­fore any screen that dared to project un­cov­ered an­kles. The Tel­luride Film Fes­ti­val only be­gan in 1974. Toronto ar­rived two years af­ter that. Can Cork re­ally pre­date all those jam­borees?

It can. The event first emerged as part of a now largely for­got­ten ini­tia­tive called An Tóstal. A fore­run­ner of the much-de­rided The Gath­er­ing, that ear­lier bash – aimed at draw­ing tourists to the still shiny new Re­pub­lic – also be­queathed the Tidy Towns Awards and the Dublin Theatre Fes­ti­val. Cork sur­vived and, in the UK and Ire­land, is sec­ond only to Ed­in­burgh in an­tiq­uity.

It hardly needs to be said that, in the cen­so­ri­ous at­mos­phere that pre­vailed un­til the end of the last cen­tury, Cork had its bat­tles with the author­i­ties. As late as 1967, the event was dragged into a furore – the de­tails of which are too com­plex to list here – con­cern­ing the screen­ing of Pe­ter Len­non’s durable state-of-the-na­tion doc­u­men­tary

Rocky Road to Dublin. What would those aged cul­tural com­mis­sars make of the news that Todd Haynes’s Carol, a tale of les­bian ro­mance in 1950s New York, is to re­ceive a gala screen­ing at this year’s fes­ti­val?

The fes­ti­val cir­cuit has changed also. In 1956, a cir­cuit of prom­i­nent events – Cannes, Ber­lin, San Se­bas­tian – emerged at which prom­i­nent re­leases would pre­miere through­out the year. In re­cent times, the rules have changed. You first show your pres­tige pic­ture at Cannes in May or you wait for the be­gin­ning of “award sea­son” in Septem­ber.

As it hap­pens, this suits Cork very nicely. Po­si­tioned con­ve­niently be­tween that start­ing gun and the Os­cars, the fes­ti­val can now com­fort­ably ac­com­mo­date pres­tige Ir­ish pre­mieres such as Ter­rence Davies’s Sun­set Song, a tale of ru­ral Scot­land star­ring Ag­y­ness Deyn ( above), and Danny Boyle’s ter­rific Steve Jobs, star­ring Michael Fass­ben­der as the Ap­ple co-founder.

Those tent-poles then sup­port less flashy screen­ings such as that of Sean Baker’s ex­cel­lent

Tan­ger­ine, a tale of LA’s trans­sex­ual cul­ture shot on iPhone, and Jerzy Skolimowski’s Ir­ish-Pol­ish co-pro­duc­tion 11 Min­utes. Things have worked out well for the old lady on the Lee.

The Cork Film Fes­ti­val runs from Novem­ber 6th un­til Novem­ber 15th.

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