The annual French Film Festival kicks off in Cork Thursday, 28th of February. We met up with the festival’s artistic director Paul Callanan, to see what’s in store for this the 19th French Cork Film Festival.

How are the preparations going?

Well, it’s been busy to say the least. Preparations take months and come together slowly and organically. You’re working with the various venues, distributors, press and other agencies but yeah, things are coming together…

In terms of having a French Festival. Why do you think French cinema merits its own festival as opposed to a season, for example, at the Annual Cork Festival?

Well France has been such a integral part of the language of cinema, dating back to the early days with the Lumière brothers. They were so formative in creating the grammar of cinema. They just have such a wide selection of films, old and new, we feel warrant attention.

Aside from the fact that it’s a French festival, what other themes have you tried to include?

Well as much as it’s a French film festival, we’ve tried to highlight the fact that there are many different nationalities working within the French film industry; many of our feature films this year are made in co-production with other countries and in many different languages: French of course, but also English, Spanish, Flemish, Russian and Arabic. Obviously cinema is the medium of our time and I think it’s a great vehicle for multiculturalism and as a means to reject globalisation.

What new films can we expect this year?

Well our opening and closing films are two striking debuts: Water Liles and Caramel (respectively). Caramel is one of those co-productions I mentioned. We are also delighted to be showing Ex Drummer and Fat Stupid Rabbit.

And what about some of the older films you’ve included?

Well, this year, we’ll be paying homage to the great masters such as Resnais, Cocteau and Tarkovsky. We have ‘The Sacrifice’, which is a French/Swedish co-production by Tarkovsky, which I think everyone is excited about. We also have cult classics from the 70s and 80s like ‘Diva’ and ‘La Planete Sauvage’.

Aside from the screenings, what else can we expect from the festival?

We’ll have our Cine-Concerts including Somadrone: ‘La Jetée’, which we’re delighted about. We are having two leading independent experimental Film Labs Burstscratch and Atelier MTK coming over to discuss their work. Using handcrafted process techniques, mirrors, music and multiple customised 16 mm projectors, they create a rather unique form of live cinema. As I mentioned earlier, we are showing ‘Fat Stupid Rabbit’ and we’re delighted to have the director Slava Ross, awarded the Cannes Film Festival Residence, over for the occasion. Ross will present Screenwriters and Directors Masterclass for young filmmakers.
Finally, what is your personal highlight of this year’s festival?
That’s a difficult one but I’d have to say, Somadrone: ‘La Jetée’. The Cine-Concerts are something I’ve worked on over the last two year’s and I’m very proud of them.
The Festival launches Thursday, 28th February. For further information visit www.corkfrenchfilmfestival.com or www.myspace.com/corkfrenchfilmfestival