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Cork Independent

Lifestyle & Leisure

Keepin’ a CIFF upper lip!

Wednesday, 4th November, 2020 2:58pm

It’s going to take a lot more than a global pandemic and a subsequent national lockdown or two to put a stop to Ireland’s biggest and oldest film festival.

Yes, on the surface the 65th Cork International Film Festival (CIFF) will be a very different affair to years gone by when it kicks off this Sunday, but at its heart it’s the same as it ever was – a joyous celebration of Irish and International film.

Back in September, before the country was initially moved to Level 3 restrictions, CIFF organisers had hoped for a full length, blended festival of both physical and virtual screenings and events.

Now, with Level 5 restrictions in place, the 65th CIFF will be a little shorter than originally planned and it will be exclusively digital, while still maintaining a full programme of 50 features and documentaries including four world premieres of Irish films.

Speaking in the build up to opening night, Fiona Clark, Festival Director and CEO said that while organisers were disappointed by not being able to present films in a cinema environment, they were excited by the fact that they can now reach audiences nationwide through the festival’s new digital platform.

Fiona said: “90 per cent of the programme remains the same and will simply move to online screening, enabling audiences nationwide to watch Irish premieres and to participate in Q&As with filmmakers online, from the comfort of their homes.”

Launching the festival this Sunday evening at 7.30pm is the 65th Anniversary Gala with new Irish feature ‘The Racer’, a fascinating sport-drama set in 1998 when the Tour de France passed through Ireland and, more importantly, Cork.

The four Irish works to have their world premiere at this year’s festival are Irish gala feature ‘The Bright Side’, documentary gala ‘Castro’s Spies’, debut feature ‘The Edge of Chaos’, and documentary ‘Home is a Sacrifice Zone’.

Standout billing ‘Castro’s Spies’ is an Irish-made documentary featuring Cuban spies operating in Miami with real FBI footage and never-before-seen footage of the Cuban revolution.

Another highlight is documentary ‘Croc of Gold, A Few Rounds with Shane MacGowan’ directed by Julien Temple and presented by Johnny Depp, looking at the life of one of the most important songwriters of the last century.

Audiences can expect to see some big Hollywood names throughout the week-long festival including Willem Defoe in ‘Siberia’, Viggo Mortensen in ‘Falling’ and Paul Mescal in ‘Drifting’.

As well as its film programme, CIFF will also present its renowned Industry Days strand for free online, a full series of industry events, speakers, panels and Q&As running from 10-15 November.

The 65th Cork International Film Festival opens this Sunday and will run entirely online until 15 November.

For bookings and a full programme visit

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