60. Cork Film Festival: An Overview

Glenn Dunlea provides an overview of the 60th Cork Film Festival, reviewing a selection of screenings including Older Than Ireland and, Carol.

Film.

Music.

Ideas.

The Cork Film Festival celebrated it’s Diamond Jubilee this year with a “vast, packed, panoramic line-up of films and events.” This, the 60th edition of the festival, was filled with a mixture of new films and classic masterpieces, with an emphasis on music, documentary, and short films.

Since it first began back in 1956, the Film Festival has attracted world wide recognition for it’s excellence and diversity. The festival has continually gone from strength to strength, and now the winner of the festival’s award for best short film is now eligible to be long listed for an Academy Award.

The range and diversity of films on offer each year is truly amazing, and I here provide an overview of only a handful of the fantastic screenings that were on show throughout the 2015 festival.

Brief Encounter

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Brief Encounter has time and again been selected as one of the greatest and most romantic films of all time. Telling the story of two perfectly respectable married strangers, who meet and fall in love at a train station in England and are destined never to be together because of the social constraints in which they live, David Lean’s cinematic classic was brought to life during the film festival by the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, who accompanied the film by playing the score live throughout. This Gala screening, attended by the crème de la crème of Cork society, was an emotional reminder of a society long since passed, but immortalised forever on screen.

My Nazi Legacy

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Can you imagine what it means to grow up as the child of a mass murderer?

For the past 70 years children of high-profile Nazi leaders have had to live their lives in the legacy of their father’s crimes against humanity. David Evans’ My Nazi Legacy focuses on Philippe Sands, the human rights lawyer, who came across two men while researching the Nuremberg trials who re-focused his studies: Niklas Frank and Horst von Wächter. These men hold polar opposite views on the men who raised them, Hans Frank and Otto von Wächter, both indicted as war criminals for their roles in WWII.

This documentary captures the sentiment, or lack thereof, that these men feel for their respective fathers, and explores the idea that familial bonds are often too strong to be broken.

Older Than Ireland

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Hilarious. Moving. Poignant. Exquisite.

Older Than Ireland, directed by Alex Fegan, is quite simply one of the finest Irish films I have ever seen. It’s concept is simple: to record the thoughts, memories, and sage wisdom of 30 of Ireland’s oldest residents, all over 100 years of age, and all born before the birth of the Free State. Their words are often hilariously funny, even more often absolutely heart-breaking (I cried three times myself), but always wonderful to listen to. We Irish are world renowned for our storytelling ability, and Older Than Ireland gloriously captures this on film, paying homage to those that helped to shape the country in which we live today.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula

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23 years after it’s initial premiere, Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula is still as visually striking today as the day it was first shown. In many respects an homage to classic horror film making, Dracula is a ravishing visual spectacle, bought to life by Eiko Ishioka’s costumes and top quality performances from the likes of Gary Oldman as the title character and Anthony Hopkins as Dr Van Helsing.

The atmosphere of this Gothic Horror masterpiece was intensified by it’s screening location; the romanesque St. Luke’s Church. Now used primarily as an events space, the cavernous vaulted roof and baroque ornamentation made this the perfect setting for a night of horror and excess.

Carol

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Set in 1950’s New York, two women from different walks of life meet by chance. Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara) is a clerk working in a Manhattan department store when she meets the glamorously beautiful Carol (Cate Blanchett), who is trapped in a loveless marriage. From there, their immediate friendship grows, and challenges the conventional social norms of the time to become something far deeper.

Every element of this film is impeccably rendered, from Todd Haynes’ direction to Sandy Powell’s stunning costumes. Carter Burwell’s score is highly evocative, and performances all round are of the highest quality, particularly Rooney’s and Blanchett’s, who will no doubt both be nominated for Academy Awards this year for Best Supporting Actress and Best Actress respectively.

Having begun my Cork Film Festival 2015 with Brief Encounter, a classic romantic film, it would have been difficult for me not to compare it with Carol, however, it would seem that Todd Haynes himself took direct inspiration from the former, using the most ingenious elements of David Lean’s film to make Carol one of the best new films this year with a nostalgic touch just in time for the festive season.

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