Gimme Some Film

A mix of entertaining yet thought provoking films and documentaries are in store for the 55th Corona Cork Film Festival writes Paul O’Connor

The 55th Corona Cork Film Festival opens with Mark Romanek’s (One Hour Photo) adaptation of Kazuo

Ishiguro’s novel ‘Never Let Me Go’, starring Keira Knightly, Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield and

will screen on the 7th of November at 8.30 p.m. at the Cork Opera House. Closing the gala will be this

year’s Venice Golden Lion winner, Sophie Coppola’s ‘Somewhere’ which stars Stephen Dorph as an actor

whose hedonistic lifestyle as a resident of the luxury Chateau Marmont Hotel in Hollywood is disrupted

by the arrival of his 11 year old daughter. The latter film’s Golden Lion gong attracted huge controversy

at Venice where the head of the jury, Quentin Tarrantino, was accused of nepotism after he presented

friends with awards, such as Alex de la Iglesia who took home two prizes including Best Director and

of course Sophie Coppola who was a one time girlfriend of Tarrantino. The awards created such a

furore that the Italian culture minister, Sandro Bondi, threatened to hand pick jurors for the festival

in the future, claiming that Tarrantino’s vision was akin to ‘an elitist, relativist and snobbish culture’.

Tarrantino, the master of schlock and infantile productions, is a lot of things but he is not an elitist.

Hopefully the 300 films that will be on show from the 7th to the 14th of November in Cork will not

incite political invective from the current Irish Minister for Culture, Mary Hanafin. Film festivals offer

people the unique opportunity to see films or documentaries that ordinarily would not be shown or

be available to a mass audience. Moreover the kind of films or documentaries shown at these kinds of

festivals are invariably challenging and interesting, different in nature to a large portion of Hollywood

films shown every weekend. Documentaries in particular can be very challenging and provocative in

nature. From Werner Herzog’s ‘Encounters at the end of the World’(http://www.youtube.com/watch?

v=DI3u7g8PPEA&feature=related) where the sanity of penguins are questioned, or rather one penguin

who chooses certain death over returning to his colony or making his way to the feeding grounds, to

Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott’s ‘The Corporation’ which compares the legal ‘person’ or entity that

is a Corporation to a psychopath, proving that one can be both shocked and challenged by the power of

documentaries. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s5hEiANG4Uk) For example the film ‘La Haine’ had

such a shocking effect on the people of France that the then French Prime Minister, Alain Juppe, showed

the film to his cabinet as a de facto documentary on life in the suburbs of Paris.

Of course the phrase ‘de facto documentary’ presupposes that documentaries are completely fact

based, rather they are merely the expression of an individual’s informed opinion on a subject matter

that he or she feels passionately about which in of itself reveals the beauty of the upcoming Film

Festival; that documentaries can be more successful than feature films when it comes to provoking

thought. In the aforementioned examples, the penguin may just have been disorientated and on further

investigation the definition of a psychopath is not merely a sadist with murderous intent (in fact the

definition is quite layered and fascinating) but the documentaries at least challenge you to think about

it. Among this year’s film festival with the potential to challenge us are the opening day ‘A Good day to

Die’ by David Mueller and Lynn Salt, ‘Dreaming the Quiet Man’ by Se Merry Doyle and ‘American Prince’

by Tommy Pallotta. The inaugural documentary, which will be shown in the Gate Multiplex on Sunday

November 7th at 12.30 p.m., details the true story of Dennis Banks and the rise of the America Indian

Movement which comes highly recommended by the organisers of the festival. It traces Banks’ life

from his early experience in boarding schools, through his military service in Japan, to his experiences

in Stillwater State prison which led to the founding of a movement, through confrontational actions in

Washington DC, Custer South Dakota and Wounded Knee, that changed the lives of American Indians

forever.

‘Dreaming the Quiet Man’ is a documentary on the making of the 1952 Irish film ‘The Quiet Man’

which starred John Wayne and was directed by Hollywood legend John Ford. Martin Scorsese, one of

the contributors on the documentary, reveals that the film inspired the idea for one of his greatest

movies, ‘Raging Bull’ (1980). Scorsese described the ‘Quiet Man’ as a ‘work of art… very unique and

beautiful’ and also references the flashback scene of John Wayne as a boxer accidentally killing an

opponent as the key image or idea which inspired him to make ‘Raging Bull’; “It was the inspiration for

a lot of the scenes in ‘Raging Bull’. I wanted the effect of the fighting scenes in ‘Raging Bull’ to look like

the flashback in ‘The Quiet Man’. “‘Dreaming The Quiet Man’ will screen in Cork Opera House on Friday,

November 12th at 8.30pm.

Scorsese makes another contribution to this year’s festival, albeit indirectly, in the form of Tommy

Pallotta’s ‘American Prince’. In 1978 Scorsese turned his camera on his roommate and friend, Steven

Prince, with his lost documentary ‘American Boy’. The role Prince is best known for was the creepy

salesman in ‘Taxi Driver’ but in real life Scorsese was apparently fascinated by his life as a raconteur,

actor, ex drug addict and road manager for Neil Diamond. Three decades on and filmmaker Pallotta

invites Diamond to revisit his days since ‘American Boy’ and to imagine the next step in his journey. This

is but a mere sampling of the potential delicacies which will be served throughout the festival in the

early days of November and the only way you will be able to truly savour these delectable treats is to

expand your palette as much as you can and watch these upcoming films at the 2010 Cork Film Festival.

The 55th Corona Cork Film Festival takes place in various venues around Cork city from November 7th to

14th. See www.corkfilmfest.org for more details.

Originally appeared in the November 2010 issue of Motley

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