Cork Film Centre Faces Savage Funding Cut
The Arts Council have announced a crippling funding cut (50%) for Cork Film Centre in 2014, with a total withdrawal of funding in 2015. The Arts Council is the primary funder of the Cork Film Centre, which also receives some support from Cork City Council and Cork County Council, as well as generating limited income through workshops and occasional special projects.
For the past twenty-one years, the Film Centre has been a crucial force in supporting and promoting film and video in Cork and throughout southern part of Ireland.
The Cork Film Centre has enabled many filmmakers to make their first films through access to advice, equipment and facilities. Enda Walsh's debut, Not a Bad Christmas, was made under the Cork Film Centre/RTÉ Short Script Awards. He has gone on to international acclaim with such films as Disco Pigs and Hunger.
Cork Film Centre is an essential support to filmmakers and artists, helping them develop their careers after graduating from art colleges, and film, television and multimedia courses. This support takes many forms, including ongoing mentorship programmes. Over the past number of years, internationally renowned filmmakers such as Pat Collins, Donal O'Céilleachair, and Oscar- nominated documentary maker Louis Marcus, have provided mentoring to emerging filmmakers in creating new work.
Currently, animator Dave Pedley, formerly of Aardman Studios (Chicken Run) and Spitting Image, and Frameworks Award winning animator, Jane Lee, are mentoring four groups of animators on new projects. Indeed, Jane is one of the many filmmakers who developed their careers through the Film Centre.
Last year, Cork Film Centre devised Cork, Like, a feature-length anthology film, with nine directors shooting individual visions of Cork, through documentary, fiction and animation. The film was premiered to a sell-out audience in the Gate Cinema during the IndieCork Film Festival in October, and has recently completed a successful run in Triskel Christchurch Cinema. It is about to begin doing the rounds of the film festival circuit, and will hopefully whet visitor appetite to come and experience the unique culture of Cork.
In recent years the Cork Film Centre facilitated the establishment of the Cork Screen Commission during its incubation period with support and funding from Cork City Council and Cork County Council. The role of the Screen Commission is to actively market the Cork region as a film location, and to provide advice and help with all aspects of filmmaking in the region.
The internationally significant specialist online film art magazine, Experimental Conversations, edited by Max Le Cain, is a Cork Film Centre initiative, which has been published by the centre for the past 6 years. Experimental Conversations has received plaudits from film pundits across the globe, including renowned critic Adrian Martin, and David Hudson (editor, Keyframe Daily).
Cork artists have been widely supported by the Film Centre in exhibiting and promoting their work all over the country, and abroad, and even at the World Expo in Shanghai. In the area of video art, in particular, the lack of a comparable service anywhere in Ireland will have a huge impact on the careers of artists in the formative years between graduation and becoming self-sufficient.
One of the pillars of Cork Film Centre's activities is its youth film workshop programme, empowering young filmmakers in schools and youth groups. In 2013, over 300 young people participated in workshops. This activity has led to the First Cut! Youth Film Festival, which runs this year in the Mall Arts Centre, Youghal, over the 27th February to 1st March, with screenings, workshops and seminars.
Cork Film Centre now faces the challenge of an uncertain future, but intends to try to find ways of continuing to respond to the needs of filmmakers and artists, as far as drastically diminished funding allows. However, the immediate result of the severity of the funding cuts is that the two full-time staff at the Centre face redundancy before the end of the year.
With the removal of Arts Council funding to the Cork Film Centre, it is indeed difficult to see how the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht is going to meet one of its key performance indicators: "Sustain film and television production sector above 2011 levels" (Statement of Strategy 2011 - 2014, p.14).
Moreover, with the threat of closure now hanging over the only film resource centre south of the Dublin-Galway axis, it is difficult to see how the Department is going to live up to its mission to "... to promote access to, and participation in, the arts by all sections of Irish society." (cite, p.6)