Interview: James Mullighan, Director of the Cork Film Festival


James Mulligan


With the 58th Cork Film Festival kicking off this weekend Glenn Caldecott sat down with the newly-appointed festival director James Mullighan to talk about what audiences can expect from Cork this year.

Now in its 58th year, the Cork Film Festival has built up a reputation for showcasing some of the best global arthouse cinema and has maintained a strong commitment to supporting up-and-coming filmmakers. The newly-appointed festival director, James Mullighan, was keen to stress that he wanted to remain faithful to this tradition. ‘The thing that audiences this year can expect to be the same is a continued commitment to exhibit the best recent arthouse cinema from around the world. So there is a touching human drama from Turkey and a Cannes award winner in The Opera House.

‘Again we are determined to do what we can for emerging filmmakers and we have three programmes of short films, for those made in Cork, in Ireland and the rest of the world. We also have a 10 event film education scheme for emerging filmmakers, which is a mix of a meet the sales agents panel all the way through to the bold new conference, Emerge, on the last Saturday’.

Emerge will feature discussions from filmmakers, technologists and transmedia producers, and will explore the convergence of film and technology to cover areas such as crowdfunding, transmedia, making films for web and connecting to audiences. ‘Ireland is rich in conferencing but it doesn’t have anything quite like this. I’m sure that the Cork Film Festival is a great home for it with its commitment to helping emerging filmmakers’.

Born in Adelaide, Australia, James Mullighan worked as a freelance arts journalist before moving to London to embark on a busy career that involved being the Creative Director of Shooting People, the producer of Marketing and Distribution for the Sleep Paralysis Project, and a Contributing Editor for VODO, Cinovate and Rich Pickings. In 2011 he directed the Edinburgh International Film Festival through a turbulent transitional year.

‘I wont pretend that I had a particularly easy time running the Edinburgh Film Festival’, admitted James, ‘but it was in many ways one of the most satisfying thing ive ever done’. In May 2013 he got the fateful call from the board of the Cork Film Festival asking him to once again reprise his role as a festival director. ‘My stomach flipped over. The idea of running a film festival again filled me with absolute delight. It wasn’t hard to convince me to take the job, I just then had to convince others that I was the right guy for it’.

So what does he feel he has brought to the festival this year? ‘If you look at the new logo, next to film in smaller letters is ‘music’ and ‘ideas’. This is a musical city in a musical country and there will not be a day that goes by where there won’t be music events’. Such events include the psychedelic rock band ‘Teeth of the Sea’ performing a live score to A Field in England, and harpist and vocalist Serafina Steer is doing a new score to Amer, the giallo film by Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani. ‘Also, the Emerge conference is very close to my heart, I hope it sticks and is something we can build upon.’

And what is he particularly looking forward to. ‘If someone was thinking about going to the festival and only seeing one film, the sure fire winner for me is Lukas Moodysson’s Swedish comedy drama, We Are The Best, about three eleven-year-old girls who, not letting their complete lack of musical talent hinder them, start a punk band’.


The 58th Cork Film Festival runs from the 9 – 17  November 2013.

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Check out our previews of Irish film screening at Cork plus exclusive coverage from the festival


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