58th Cork Film Festival: ‘The Red House’ & ‘In the Name Of’

The 58th Cork Film Festival (9 – 17 November)

 

Matt Micucci takes a look at The Red House and In the Name Of , which both screened as part of the 58th Cork Film Festival.

 

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The Red House (Alyx Duncan)

The intimate domestic drama of Yasujiro Ozu meets the poetic narrative and visual structure of Terence Malick in this impressive directorial feature debut by New Zealand director Alyx Duncan.

The Red House paints the picture of Lee and Jia, a married couple in their sixties still madly in love despite their cultural differences. But when Jia has to return to her homeland to take care of an ill parent, this forced momentary separation threatens the balance of their idyllic relationship.

The film has slight imperfections and some slight carelessness in the screenplay as well as an occasional feeling of sparseness in the message that sometimes feels unfocused particularly when dealing with the afore mentioned cultural differences,

However, Duncan’s film still comes across as a deeply moving and heart-warming tribute to long lasting unconditional love and to the joys and sorrows of devotion. On top of that, its remarkable photography with a penchant for landscape and lyrical imagery makes it look very refined. Duncan’s bravest and ultimately recompensing choice was to cast her own parents in the lead role, hence adding an intense passionate realism in their chemistry and romance.

 

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In the Name Of  (Malgorzata Szumowska)

Adam, a Polish Catholic Priest who has embraced the religious life to fight back his homosexuality, works in a rural village with teenagers with behavioural difficulties. Even though Szumowska’s In the Name Of is certainly provocative and often even uncomfortable, it never descends into tastelessness. However, the film constantly struggles to battle off this awkward feeling of being dishonest due to a lack of believable and truly compelling emotional depth – perhaps unaided by the lack of chemistry between Andrzej Chyra who plays Adam (admittedly a tough part to play) and Mateusz Kosciukiewicz, who plays his young lover Lukasz.

There are certain notably impactful elements that particularly lie around the Priest’s own internal struggles, sadness, anger and psychological torment – such as the impending shadow of a hostile reaction that hovers more menacingly over his head as the film progresses. As well as that, there is a little sensorial charm in its warm lighting and summertime setting that not only evokes sentiments of ‘sad young men’ of the forties and fifties, which usually dealt lightly with homoerotic themes, but also creates an intriguing contrast with the darkness in the soul of the film’s central figure.

Nevertheless, it may not be enough to save the film from being essentially weak or even disappointingly forgettable for better or for worse.

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58th Cork Film Festival: ‘Sarah Prefers to Run’ & Tony Palmer’s ‘Nocturne’

The 58th Cork Film Festival (9 – 17 November)

 

Matt Micucci checks out Sarah Prefers to Run and Nocturne, which both screened as part of the 58th Cork Film Festival.

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Sarah Prefers to Run (Chloé Robichaud)

Sarah is a 20-year-old girl who loves to run and moves to Montreal to make the big athletics league. Her life outside of running, however, is a little trivial as she constantly alienates herself from her friends and her mother. This is particularly true in the case of her relationship with Antoine, with whom she moves to Montreal and gets married for no other reason than to claim financial incentives.

Sarah Prefers to Run is literally a film about a character who prefers running over everything and in the process becomes a film about giving up on love, life and even happiness to feed into her idea of ethereal happiness. Robichaud is particularly brave in making a number of interesting anti-cinematic choices that in fact go against the traditional representation of human sentiments on the big screen whether it is through Sarah’s own passive nature or the awkward sexual chemistry she shares with Antoine – especially in a particularly uneasy and almost darkly comical sex scene.

Though in the grand vision of the film everything makes sense, Robichaud’s film can’t escape or shake off a feeling of pretentiousness and superficiality which will leave some members of the audience feeling totally cold – as cold, in fact, as Sarah herself seems to be towards human connection.

Sarah Prefers to Run mixes a valid mixture of honesty and metaphor, presented in a Dardenne Brothers’ type of visual realism, presented through an original compelling story and a captivating character study.

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Nocturne (Tony Palmer)

Throughout his illustrious career, Tony Palmer has shown a great understanding of music and the musical process in its wider sense. His latest film Nocturne takes a look at the life of one of the greatest composers of the twentieth century, Benjamin Britten, in honour of his hundredth birthday.

Having worked with Britten before, Palmer has clearly formed his idea of the composer’s personality, and what this film stands as is an analysis of any element – domestic, historical, sexual and political – that influenced his masterworks as well as a harrowing examination of his personality. In fact, there is literally nothing missing from this film, whether it is unique artistic representation of his work’s inspiration by juxtaposition of images of the holocaust and Iraq bombings over a performance of his renowned War Requiem, a detailed description of his music’s disciplined ethics by experts and critics and interviews with people who were closest to him. As well as that, it makes use of great archive material from films that show the man at work or his operas staged for television, some of it shot by Palmer himself.

However, there is more. The film’s unhurried pace allows its audience to truly identify with the film and the music with its unhurried pace that urges a kind of meditative interaction. Nocturne, therefore, is an astounding piece of documentary filmmaking that is at once structured and experimental. It is at once biographical and poetic. A truly magnificent experience, and a glorious find by the Cork Film Festival for this year’s edition.

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58th Cork Film Festival: ‘A Glimpse in the Mind of Charles Swan III’ & ‘Wavemakers’

 The 58th Cork Film Festival (9 – 17 November)

Matt Micucci on A Glimpse in the Mind of Charles Swan III and Wavemakers, which both screened as part of the 58th Cork Film Festival.

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A Glimpse in the Mind of Charles Swan III (Roman Coppola)

 

Charlie Sheen plays a graphic designer who descends into utter misery after his girlfriend leaves him. There have been some arguments in favour of Roman Coppola’s A Glimpse in the Mind of Charles Swan III that have called it a misunderstood tribute to ’70s film. However, there is very little to admire in a film that is uncertain about whether it wants to be deadpan or childish – so in the end it is just cardboard.

On top of that, its general humour is rather weak and the filmmaker doesn’t appear skilled enough to give the drama any relevant importance. The saddest element of all, however, is Charlie Sheen. Not only is his perhaps premature casting in a role that feels like a surrogate of his own ‘controversial’ lifestyle often feel very uncomfortable, but it’s even worse to see the embarrassing rare instances where the film requires him to act – particularly when we remember that this is the same man who once starred in Platoon.

 

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Wavemakers (Caroline Martel)

 

Not many people will be familiar with the almost magical and yet obscure and mysterious instrument called the Ondes Martenot. Yet, this early electronic instrument has an infectious hypnotic charge that has made most people who have come in contact with it in one way or another fall in love with it, including filmmaker Caroline Martel, who came to know its haunting tones when she used it as the soundtrack to her previous film The Phantom of the Operator.

This certainly comes through in her latest documentary, Wavemakers, that tracks its lifespan from its inception in the mind of its creator Maurice Martenot right down to its relevance in modern music – whether it is through Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood or its most celebrated interpreter Suzanne Binet-Audet. Martel also shows a deep connection with the ondes Martenot by allowing its unique tones and vibratos to dictate its tone, mood and rhythm in a way that makes her documentary almost mystical and downright hypnotic.

A treat for the eyes and the ears, Wavemakers is also both a passionate and loving tribute to its subject as well as a warm appraisal of music’s most artisanal side.

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58th Cork Film Festival: ‘Who is Dayani Cristal?’ & ‘Soldate Jeannette’

 The 58th Cork Film Festival (9 – 17 November)

 

Matt Micucci checks out Who is Dayani Cristal? by Marc Silver and Soldate Jeannette by Daniel Hoesl, which both screened as part of the 58th Cork Film Festival.

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Who is Dayani Cristal?  (Marc Silver)

 

A powerful documentary that will surely shed a new and more human light on a delicate issue that is often viewed from a safe and unflatteringly politicised distance. Marc Silver offers a remarkable insight on the migration of poverty stricken Latin Americans to the United States, but takes a look at it from a haunting and original perspective by focusing on its dangerous and often tragic journey.

Its starting point, in fact, comes from the decomposing corpses or remains of the dead travellers found on the Sonora desert and the retracing of one of those bodies in particular – whose only initial distinguishing trait is a tattoo of the words ‘Dayani Cristal’. It is this man’s story, in fact, that is portrayed harrowingly with three different approaches – a narrative one starring Gael Garcia Bernal, an investigative one as the body’s origins are retraced and an intimate one where his family and close friends are interviewed.

The result is at once entertaining, haunting and potent as well as very important and effective in raising awareness on the issue that works as a spotlight on a specific geographic area but could a easily take more universal meaning in the subject of migration.

Furthermore, through skill and sensibility, Silver totally avoids patronisation or even exploitation. Who is Dayani Cristal? offers a voice to the voiceless and a strong human standpoint that urges international dialogue.

 

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Soldate Jeannette (Daniel Hoesl)

 

The story of Fanni and Anna, two women sickened by the lives they lead; the first lives a life of pretend luxury and another a life of squalor among the pigs and the cows in a slaughter farm. The two meet. It’s hard to believe that Rotterdam almost fooled everyone into thinking that this was a landmark work of modern experimental cinema when it awarded it the Tiger Award.

It is a goofy attempt at depth and substance inexplicably referring to Dreyer’s Joan of Arc but ending up being half the movie Thelma and Louise was. The worst part is that Hoesl would rather fool us into thinking that Soldate Jeannette is a fresh and original tribute to the experimental cinema of the European no-wave than come up with anything that really is original in form, theme and context.

It’s the type of film that burns fake money and kills real animals on screen. Disgusting. Some people will be fooled by its clever antics, but this is a kind of snobbish swindle and an insulting betrayal to innovation.

 

www.corkfilmfest.org

Check out our Cork Film Festival coverage here

 

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58th Cork Film Festival: ‘XL’ & ‘From Gulf to Gulf to Gulf’

 The 58th Cork Film Festival (9 – 17 November)

 

Matt Micucci takes a look at XL by Marteinn Thorsson, and From Gulf to Gulf to Gulf  by Shaina Anand and Ashok Sukumaran, which both screened as part of the 58th Cork Film Festival.

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XL (Marteinn Thorsson)

Thorsson’s latest film is certainly not of the easy kind. Dealing with the darkness of themes such as political and moral decadence, he builds a world of psychedelic insanity and puts an ‘extra-large’ Alice in Wonderland figure Leifur at the centre of it all – a parliamentary member, king adulterer, alcoholic  who in fact appears to be the human incarnation of all of the seven deadly sins.

An eccentric stylised vision of corruption and depravity, XL is quite simply a rollercoaster ride into hell and depravity, right up to its cathartic and nightmarish ending. It is a very unique vision, particularly considering its originality among the usually static Icelandic cinema through a non-linear narrative construction and a wild technical approach that delves into the unconventional.

The film also asks itself serious questions about masculinity through its lead character’s struggles and his role as a son, husband and father. Mind you, some will be shocked and disturbed by the film, but this is mostly because it almost forces us in the shoes of this Shakesperean anti-hero Leifur to the point where we perversely begin to feel for him, in spite of his lack of proper ethics and despite him symbolising virtually all that is wrong in modern society.

Ólafur Darrí Ólafasson is nothing short of praiseworthy as he on takes the role of this ‘big bad man’. His kind of brave interpretation, which demanded a delicate type of self-deprecation and physicality, is absolutely crucial to the film that without it would have quite simply fallen apart.

 

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From Gulf to Gulf to Gulf  (Shaina Anand and Ashok Sukumaran)

Life is not easy when working on a boat in the Arabian Sea – though it has its fair share of romanticism. That is the conclusion we can draw from this experimental documentary feature, which is not afraid to take us out of our comfort zone and practically force its audience to engage actively with the film.

From Gulf to Gulf to Gulf is the fruit of the collaboration between filmmakers Anand and Sukuraman with a group of sailors from the Gulf of Kutch. It is, in fact, a collage of clips shot by the crew members themselves during their trips over the course of four years, some with good cameras but others with anything from phones to webcams – which means that the quality of the clips goes from good to very bad.

It’s a challenging film and some will find it inevitably tedious, but there is nothing sadistic about it not wanting to please its viewer in the most obvious way with a narrative or even any sort of structure worth mentioning. In its form, and its radically realistic representation, this is exactly as tough an experience as it needs to be. Yet, every now and again, the film will logically compensate and please the viewer through its simplicity, whether it is through a fleeting ray of light captured on the screen, the graceful sight of playful happy dolphins or a particularly exciting shot of a boat with a popular Arabic song playing in its background.

 

www.corkfilmfest.org

Check out our Cork Film Festival coverage here

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Interview: Maurice O’Callaghan, director of ‘The Lord’s Burning Rain’

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Matt Micucci sat down with director Maurice O’Callaghan at the 58th Cork Film Festival to discuss his film The Lord’s Burning Rain, which screened last weekend

I understand this film took quite a while to shoot.

It did, it took nine months because, first of all it was a very low-budget film. Second of all my son, who plays the lead role, was doing his Leaving Cert and he was only seventeen at the time so we could only shoot it during his vacation time. We shot it during Summer, Halloween, Christmas, Easter and then the next Summer, so it actually nearly took us twelve months.

 

Can you tell us a little about the story of the film?

It’s about a teenage boy who sets off with his father and his uncle to buy a horse from a mountaineer farmer one October day back in the 1960s. The boy then has to ride the horse home – a journey of forty miles over an enormous mountain range. On his way, he has a series of adventures. The story is based on The Odyssey of Homer and the idea of Telemachus who goes in search of his father, Odysseus, one of the great heroes of the Trojan war, who is not coming home because he has been side-tracked and gone off for twenty years.

Along the way, he meets all these people that tell him bits about his father. In the same way here, Donnachadh Diarmuid meets all sorts of people. The seductive tinker woman , who is based on the similar character Circe in The Odyssey, who tries to seduce Telemachus and steal his horse. The Protestant farmer, who is sort of based on the character of Nestor, the old warrior who has returned from war and knows everything about what happened. And then he meets the blind prophet, Tiresias, who is the man in the black cloak from the house of dead. In all the big stories there is always someone that tells the hero that he must go through the land of the dead to come safely to the other side. Donnachadh has to go into hell and has to see what his ancestors did before he comes out of the other side.

It’s based on a story I wrote in 2005. It was the second story in a collection of short stories that I published that year. In addition to that, as a young man, when I was thirteen years old, I rode a horse like that and I originally wrote it based on myself. Then when you write the story, other fictionalised elements come into play, such as the Greek elements that may already be there but you are not aware of at the time.

 

You have dealt with these themes in the past, and they are themes that are quite personal.

Yes, I grew up in a family of strong Republicans, all fighters from the old revolution. Most writers that are any good will write about what they know. For instance, I lived in America for along time and tried to write stories about my time there, but my publishers told me ‘your writing shines when you write about what you really know and about West Cork’. Although I have left it, even when you’re younger your best writing is about what you have known from the past. So when you don’t know your environment exactly, you have to make it up, whereas it comes natural when you know the environment well.

 

After a few scenes in the film, it becomes clear that this is a personal film. Did working with your own son (Harry O’Callaghan) acting in the film and your daughter (Maud O’Callaghan) producing it enhance your own personal journey while making the film?

It did because I was also playing his father in the film, both in the present time footage and it the black and white ones. That was footage we had shot twenty-five years ago, and had been sitting in an archive. So, you had three generations. I was playing his father, and the original story was based on my own father. It worked fantastically well. Harry was a reluctant actor, he is very naturalistic. He doesn’t do much in the film, but he reacts well and has great stage presence. Plus, I surrounded him with great actors like Jonathan Ryan, who plays the farmer and Caroline Morahan who plays the tinker woman.

 

Speaking of the way in which the film was brought on screen, one of my favourite elements was actually the narration – which sometimes is a drawback in films. Here, it reminded me of the older documentaries by Flaherty and Grierson…

…like Man of Aran?

 

Exactly. Was that deliberate?

Yes, it was deliberate. Another big one was Terence Malick, who uses vast amounts of voiceover in his films. Again, the idea of voiceover is very Homeric with Homer reciting The Iliad and The Odyssey in these big long poems. With this approach I’m reversing the idea of showing and not telling. I guess it’s more of an art-house approach but I think that you can get very bored of the same old bang bang Hollywood stuff.

 

This is, as you said yourself at the Q&A session after the screening, guerrilla filmmaking.

Yes. We had a big budget for my previous film Broken Harvest, but then I stopped filmmaking for a while and went back to writing. So, we didn’t have the money and that is another reason why the voiceover becomes a big thing because it can be added afterwards.

 

Do you find that the Irish revolution has been commercialised by bigger budget films and the realism and intimacy of the subject has been taken out of it too much?

I don’t think there have been many films made about it. I suppose, there was The Wind That Shakes the Barley, which I was involved on an early draft of the script. Michael Collins by Neil Jordan was another one. I just wanted to do it in another way. There is the young boy finding out about the past. Then there is the theme of division between the Catholics and the Protestants in West Cork. Then, there is the theme of the Irish fighting against the British.

 

Was this totally independently funded?

Oh yes, totally independently funded. Not even the Film Board was involved. I kind of didn’t want to wait around, I wanted to do it my way, and I think that nowadays if you do get outside founding you are always kind of required to leave some things in and take some things out. Then I showed it to James Mullighan here at the Cork Film Festival and he was a big fan of it, even though he is Australian and this is his first year – I think maybe it’s also because he saw it from an outsider’s point of view and saw maybe things that the Irish might be more familiar way.

 

The main questions that come to mind when talking about a film totally independently funded are two. The first being, are these types of films hard to get financed and the second one being whether you would be concerned that once they are financed, your original vision would be altered.

Certainly with this particular story, they might have said that the film was a little too pro-Republican, even though I think the big twist in the story is when the farmer, who is telling the kid about his father, actually is a Protestant – and that’s a big shock because he is helping the boy. So, I wouldn’t want to be doing this every day of the week, financing my own films myself – even though nowadays it’s easier with the new technology and the lighter camera. I mean, for instance, what did you think of the cinematography?

 

Like I said,  I took it as a piece of guerrilla filmmaker and once you get over the initial shock of seeing something different then it simply becomes a part of the experience.

One person mentioned to me that the landscape became a character in the movie.

 

Yes, that’s true and when you mentioned Terence Malick as an influence it made even more sense.

Yes. And then there is the fact that the kid has to conquer the mountains. It was a little slow at the start but it was deliberate. The story of the film kicks in with the introduction of the character of the tinker woman.

 

You mentioned that that particular part of the film was added after a first screening.

Yes, we showed it once at the Light House Cinema, just to a test audience of twenty people. Some said that it needed a little bit of excitement, and once the audience meets that tinker woman, then they forget about how long it took to get there. All that stuff in the middle works quite well and keeps the audience watching.

 

One of the conclusions of the film is that it’s hard to predict the future even when understanding the past. But speaking of the future of the film itself, is this the kind of work a filmmaker would make to attract financing for a chance at making a bigger budget feature based on the same themes?

Certainly not a remake, but one of the reasons I was out of it for fifty years – writing, even got involved in property development and made money elsewhere – was because I never made money from my films, only what I lost in them. I still loved making films. I made last year A Day for the Fire, which was made with the same crew and the some of the same cast about two men sitting in a bar and one telling the other how his son committed suicide. A very powerful film which showed here last year.

I dipped my toe back in the water with that film last year, which went off to Los Angeles in a shortlist for the Oscars. On the strength of that I said that I would work with the same actors. Besides that, all the stories I have filmed are all in the same book. My ultimate aim was to make all the ten stories, like a decalog, like Kieslowski. So it is possible that I might do the remaining seven, but I have another major script called The Caress, which is based on the life of Liam O’Flaherty. It’s a kind of a cross between The Quiet Man and Man of Aran. That is a much bigger film that I want to make with a bigger crew. That is a film that I think would be very commercial and there is no politics in it, it’s more about love, lust and sex. It’s a love triangle.

 

And it’s a period piece?

It’s set in 1935. It’s one of the most commercial stories that might come out. I have been making movies for twenty five years, and they have tried all sorts of things that have never worked. The Americans still love to see Irish period films – in other words, a film like this might do better there than it might here, because they like to see that landscape, hear that music and can’t seem to change their mind that Ireland has become a modern place because then it would simply become another America. They want to see something exotic.

 

Do you find that digital filmmaking has made it easier for The Lord’s Burning Rain to come to life?

Oh, yes. I mean, it was all shot on digital apart from the archive material that had been shot on film. We made that black and white and that was great because it made it look very old, it looked like footage from the twenties – even though it was shot in the eighties. The rest of that stuff was on digital and we didn’t have to fly all the reels to Heathrow Airport like we did with Broken Harvest, which was shot on 35mm. Digital filmmaking has definitely made everything a lot easier, but ultimately it’s not down to the camerawork or even the music, it’s down to the acting and the story.

 

Would you put marketing in that list?

Marketing is important but it can only go so far. But this kind of a movie will hopefully go by word of mouth and hopefully get into the art-house cinemas circuit.

 

Have you been talking to anyone yet?

We have been talking to the IFI and the Light House where we screened the film already. I think RTÉ might want to have a look at it as well. But you’d be surprised. I mentioned the film Pilgrim Hill, it was made for 4,500 euro and won loads of awards. Done on a digital camera and the guy has made deals for Hollywood. We’ve entered The Lord’s Burning Rain in Sundance and will probably be entering it into Tribeca too.

 

The Lord’s Burning Rain screened on 10th November at The Cork Opera House as part of the the 58th Cork Film Festival.

www.corkfilmfest.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

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58th Cork Film Festival: ‘The Lord’s Burning Rain’ & ‘Breaking Ground: the Story of the London Irish Women’s Centre’

 The 58th Cork Film Festival (9 – 17 November)

 

Matt Micucci checks out 2 of the Irish films that screened as part of the 58th Cork Film Festival – Maurice O’Callaghan’s The Lord’s Burning Rain and Michelle Deignan’s Breaking Ground: the Story of the London Irish Women’s Centre.

 

horsefilm-300x168The Lord’s Burning Rain (Maurice O’Callaghan)

 

Modern independent Irish cinema just keeps shining, and Maurice O’Callaghan’s latest film is one of its most challenging and meditative entries. Shot in a rough and rugged guerrilla filmmaking style, The Lord’s Burning Rain is about the journey of a 16-year-old boy as he rides the new family horse to his house on his own.

During the journey, the young male experiences a series of encounters that help him uncover a side of his father and his struggles for Irish independence he was not aware of.

Far from the comfort zone of the vast majority of films that have dealt with the subject in the past, O’Callaghan’s film is quite demanding and many will find its art-house energy alienating. Nevertheless, anyone willing to let themselves be taken by the film’s poignancy and melancholia – as well as the deeply personal nature of the filmmaker’s vision, will find it quite a unique, poetic and exceptionally gratifying experience.

 

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Breaking Ground: the Story of the London Irish Women’s Centre (Michelle Deignan)

A feminist documentary made with an all-female crew, Breaking Ground is a documentary about the London Irish Women’s Centre, which was founded in the early eighties to represent and support generations of Irish women in London. Despite hints at radicalism, Michelle Deignan’s film is far from being a sort of aggressive manifesto.

Breaking Ground comes across as warm and soft-spoken. Deignan interviews the people who were actively involved in the group and makes full use of the primary source archive footage to offer great intimate insight that helps highlight the importance of such support groups and their effect on society.

As a documentary, it doesn’t come across as the kind of powerful work that takes a stance and it’s highly unlikely that it will start any type of revolt – but then again, that is not the kind of film it wants to be.

Breaking Ground feels more like a simple and sincere tribute to the ordinary people of any kind who rise up against discrimination and represent solidarity by having an impact on their community through kindness, harmony and tolerance.

 

www.corkfilmfest.org

Check out our Cork Film Festival coverage here

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58th Cork Film Festival: ‘Silence is Gold’ & ‘Big Joy: The Adventures of James Broughton’

The 58th Cork Film Festival (9 – 17 November)

Matt Micucci at the 58th Cork Film Festival reports on Silence is Gold and Big Joy: The Adventures of  James Broughton.

 

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Silence is Gold  (Julien Fréchette)

Silence is Gold is a real-life tale of David and Goliath. Documentarian Julien Fréchette followed the controversial events surrounding the release of a book on Canadian mining companies in Africa called Noir Canada, which saw its writers and publishers sued by giant companies Barrack Gold and Banro.

Rather than being investigative, blatantly picking one side over the other and using an investigative approach, Fréchette carefully chooses to retain a certain distance and mostly play the role of observer. Silence is Gold, in fact, doesn’t really come up with its own conclusions but is rather content with raising certain issues about Canadian mining in Africa, the media and the Canadian juridical system in a way that wants and seeks audience interaction.

The pace is energetic and we witness the events as they happen. This heightens an element of tension and suspense that makes it entertaining in a film that also offers an insightful and intimate look at writer Alan Denault as he carries the weight of the situation on his shoulders with worried, yet faithful, determination.

 

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Big Joy: The Adventures of  James Broughton (Stephen Silha, Eric Slade, Dawn Logson)

 

Who is James Broughton? James Broughton is a poet and poetic filmmaker that time has inexplicably forgotten. And yet, as this wonderful documentary shows, not only is his work delightful but also characteristically unique in its imaginative approach, often quirky and funny but always deep and personal. On top of that, he was also quite a fascinating character whose infectiously positive attitude is faithfully represented in this equally infectiously entertaining film.

Big Joy, in fact, is one of those rare instances where a traditionally structured biographical documentary seems to truly and wholly connect with its character through an imaginative visual approach and a deep understanding of its subject’s joie-de-vivre as well as his internal struggles. Furthermore, it presents a particularly intimate portrayal of his own journey of discovery in his coping with his homosexuality from its painful awakening to his full acceptance and celebration of his idea of universal love and sexuality.

Interviews with his close friends and relatives, footage from his films, lots of great stills from the time and priceless access to pages of his own personal journal allow us to get real close to the late artist. But what is perhaps even more remarkable is the chance that Big Joy offers Broughton to inspire a new generation of followers and artists, much like he did when he was alive.

 

www.corkfilmfest.org

Check out our Cork Film Festival coverage here

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