by Freda Bruce Lockhart
poRK International Film
Festival is not. I suppose. one of the most venerable, although it is now 15 years old. But I have been told by my colleagues who have been there that it was the most enjoyable.
Now that I have just had the very great pleasure of attending it I understand why. I have been to festivals in Italy, France, Belgium and South America and greatly appreciated the beauty of their settings, but I have never enjoyed a film festival as heartily as I did my first visit to the one in Cork.
Above all. I would echo the straightforward words of that splendid actress, Billie Whitelaw, when she made a personal appearance, which is one of the features of the evening sessions at the Savoy Theatre. She said she had been simply overwhelmed by the courtesy, warmth and hospitality of the festival welcome.
In Cork the week of the festival is a magnificent entertainment by the local authorities. headed by the Lord Mayor and the local intelligentsia, which thrives in Ireland, their tradition unbroken from the times of Yeats, James Joyce and Sean O'Casey, and by a veritable regiment of volunteer workers who act as individual guides and hosts to the hundreds of delegates and visitors from every country taking part.
In its 15 years, Cork has developed into the world's major festival for "shorts". The feature films are non-competitive—and not always brand new.
For instance, one of the most delightful of the feature films, the Polish Red and Gold. has already been shown at the London Film Festival. Just w h y Lenartowicz's picture about love in what is virtually an old people's home should he called Red and Gold is obscure to me, but it is a delightful and amusing picture which we may look forward to in due course.
I had great pleasure from a charming French trifle starring Brigette Bardot and called The Bear and the Doll. Others to put on your list are Maximilian Schell's first try at directing the German First Love from a Turgenev novel. It has very promising performances by John Moulder Brown (a British child actor since he was five) and France's Dominique Sanda as the romantic 16-year-olds. Its style may be a shade too studied, and not quite up to such authentic Russian movies as The Lady with a Little Dog, but it will charm the romantically inclined moviegoer.
Probably the most brilliant feature shown was the Czechoslovak satire / Killed Einstein, Gentlemen by Oldrich Lipsky. Language, sub-titles and computer context were all beyond me, but I still found it a dazzling and hilarious work I can hardly wait to see again.
Shorts, however, are the real matter at Cork. The festival authorities take seriously the setting of a high standard of quality. Quite a stern report from the international jury. headed by Margaret Hinxman, frankly admitted that too many of the shorts fell below the festival's high standard. Nevertheless, I found them a rich and varied assortment, Besides being a gay and happy occasion, Cork Festival, true to its high standards, is a strenuous week. It would hardly be possible to see everything. Of the prize-winning shorts whose acclaim 1 would endorse. were The Gallery (from Australia), though I don't know why it wasn't excepted from the jury's strictures on below standard "art films"; Les Quatre Pastes, a delightful French look at an alsatian dog and his baby friend; Love Bolero (from Spain), a really stylish original; Fotonovello, film magazine story; The Irish: The Return of the Islander; and everybody was pleased with the award for Bob Godfrey's amusing Henry 9 to 5.
Some of my favourites apparently not endorsed by the jury were the Rumanian Alecu Croitorus (whose name means Alec Taylor) The Season of the Brides, a much more than usually rich and ancient folklore piece; Donovan Winter's Sunday in the Park (showing shortly at the Cameo Poly); South Africa's The Peace Game, with superb pictures of animals in game reserves; and New Zealand's The Grass Growers.
My most disliked short was the coy German military band joke on Beethoven.
The important feature of the festival was the "retrospective" series of Forbcs's pictures. I was delighted to see Whistle Down the Wind again; and enjoyed The L Shaped Room, and even Rat King more than when they were new. It was infuriating to fail once more to get to The Whisperers.
Forbes's lively presence was also a vital element in the "personal appearance" side to the festival, as were those of Yvonne Mitchell, Mary Savage and Julie Felix, all of whom. like Billie Whitelaw, entered into the warm and genial atmosphere.
Among the many sided activities and workshops was a Take Talk-in, devoted to the prospects for an Irish film industry on which I hope there will be an opportunity to write another time.