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“Our aim is to celebrate independent film on a local, national and international level”

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James Mulvey • Programming advisor, IndieCork

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- We had a chat about the present and the future of the IndieCork festival with James Mulvey, its programming advisor

James Mulvey  • Programming advisor, IndieCork
(© Irina Frederika Tarvida)

James Mulvey is the programming advisor of IndieCork, one of the biggest Irish events in the world of independent cinema. The programme comprises over 110 films, together with a number of parallel initiatives. The festival opened on 8 October and will run until Sunday 15 October (see the news). We asked him for some more details about this year's edition and his work in general.

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Cineuropa: IndieCork is celebrating its fifth birthday. What is the focus of this year's edition?
James Mulvey: We feel a certain sense of wonderment and delight at reaching the big fifth birthday. Essentially, although we have grown and developed over that time, our aim is still to celebrate independent film and music on a local, national and international level.

This year, you have a new special partner, the Visegrad Film Festival. What kind of contribution is this partnership providing to IndieCork?
This partnership opens up new avenues for us in terms of cinema from the Visegrad countries of Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Szablocs Hajdu’s It’s Not the Time of My Life [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Szabolcs Hajdu
film profile
]
is a case in point. We are delighted to be welcoming him to Cork, and this event, plus programmes from each of the Visegrad countries, has come about through our collaboration with the Visegrad Film Festival.

This edition will host four important Irish world premieres, which is impressive. What criteria do you apply when looking for domestic films?
There are no set criteria or formulas that we follow when programming the festival, just as there are none for creating a great film. At IndieCork, we work as a team, with a viewing panel and programmers who are very well connected and embedded in film culture. Once one of us spots something exciting or magical, it is passed along to get the opinion of a fellow programmer. We are all passionate about supporting domestic filmmakers and will argue the corner of a film if we feel it deserves to be shown. We also love seeing filmmakers coming back to submit works to the festival year after year, building on our ethos of community and support. I think that is part of what makes IndieCork so special.

What makes IndieCork different from other Irish film festivals? How does the local community respond in terms of participation and engagement?
We are lucky in Ireland to have so many great festivals on offer throughout the year, but what makes IndieCork so unique is our focus on fostering the talents of independent filmmakers from Cork, Ireland and around the world. We do emphasise that international focus – that no matter your budget, your film can travel worldwide. At IndieCork, we provide an alternative distribution and exhibition circuit; we give a platform to films that may not otherwise get screened, and the festival works as an ideal place for filmmakers and audiences to meet. As I said, once filmmakers have screened at IndieCork, they tend to want to come back! A great example of this is our opening film this year, Beach Rats by Eliza Hittman. Eliza is a New York-based filmmaker whose short films have shown with us every year of our festival. Cork, as a city, prides itself on its independent and creative nature, and as a result, our audiences turn out to support and enjoy the variety of films and performances on offer.

IndieCork places great importance on young filmmakers by hosting a number of talks, training sessions and workshops. What is your opinion of the current state of the industry, and what opportunities does Ireland offer to emerging auteurs?
The Irish film industry has grown exponentially, and for a small nation, our talent, influence and success are growing in a significant way. However, we need to be open, receptive and curious. For me, events like IndieCork are vital in terms of this kind of film education and appreciation. We offer independent filmmakers an opportunity, often their first break, to screen their work in front of a real audience. This often leads to screenings at other festivals and further distribution. If we want our film industry to continue to grow, then we need to believe in the creativity and talent of the filmmakers who are starting out in their careers. This is what IndieCork is all about, as well as spotting that talent early on and giving it a platform.

Have you been working on any other changes for this year's edition? What are your future plans for IndieCork?
IndieCork has a unique structure, in that we are “fan-owned”, or shareholder-owned. This means that we set up the festival as a co-operative, and anyone can buy a share. This creates a different dynamic to the standard company structure, allowing film and music fans to have a real say and investment in the festival. This is unique in Ireland for an arts festival. Sustainability is a real challenge in these times, so we aim to be as inventive as possible to keep this lovely festival on the road!

Our plans for the future are to keep developing and supporting the talent and creativity of independent filmmakers and musicians. Live cinema and performance is a magical thing, and creating the right framework is what we aim to do. The vast majority of cinema on release is formulaic and only the tip of the production iceberg – IndieCork is here to show the greater range of creative output in film and music.

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