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The 33rd Cork French Film Festival will launch in style at the Port of Cork today (Tuesday, August 30th), with a special event aboard the Belem. Steeped in history, the 126 year old French sailing ship is a fitting place to kick off what promises to be a magical four days celebrating the best of French cinema. The event will be attended by the Deputy Head of Mission from the Embassy of France in Ireland, Marianne Barkan-Cowdy.

This year’s festival runs from September 1st to 4th at the Gate Cinema, with eleven films in total crossing a variety of genres from comedy, drama, thrillers and romance. The programme features some of the greatest ever Francophone film directors and actors. In addition, a 12th  film will be screened for post-primary schools, on September 27th and 28th.

The Belem has a fascinating history worthy of her own movie. Having escaped volcanic eruptions in the Caribbean, and serving as a luxury yacht,  she became the property of the Guinness Family in 1922, who renamed her the Fantôme II. The Hon. A. E. Guinness sailed the seven seas aboard the Fântome II in 1923 with his daughters. Having undergone more name changes and new ownerships, she finally came back to her home port in France as the Belem in January 1979. She is now owned by the Fondation Belem, fully restored as a sail training ship. In 1984, the Belem obtained the title of French Historical Monument.

Josselin le Gall and Valérie David-McGonnell launching this years Cork French Film Festival. Photo Darragh Kane

The programme for the 33rd Cork French Film Festival has been curated and managed by Green Ray Film Agency and the festival has been directed by Josselin Le Gall and Valérie David-McGonnell for Alliance Française de Cork.

Honorary Consul of France in Cork, Kerry and Waterford, and Member of the Board of Directors of Alliance Française de Cork, Josselin Le Gall, said: 

“We cannot think of a more fitting launch of the 33rd Cork French Film Festival than aboard the Belem. She is a beautiful ship with a fantastic history and we are delighted to bring her to Cork. It’s a perfect way to start the 33rd French Film Festival in the City, where we celebrate the magic of cinema and all that is great about French culture.”

The opening night of the festival will celebrate French cuisine with the screening of Delicieux, set right before the French Revolution in 1789, it sees Manceron, talented yet temperamental, open his first restaurant. Tying in with the culinary theme of the film, audiences will be treated to some light bites courtesy of  The Imperial Hotel, Cameron Bakery and Hegarty’s Cheese.

President of Alliance Française de Cork, Valérie David-McGonnell, said:

“We are very proud of this year’s programme at the Cork French Film Festival, it really has something for everyone when it comes to genres and themes, with a chance to see some fantastic French and Belgian films on the big screen at The Gate Cinema. It’s wonderful to welcome audiences back to the 33rd edition of this festival which is the oldest French film festival in Ireland.” 

The full programme is available on Tickets are on sale at The Gate Cinema, and online at

Supporting sponsors this year include the Cork City Council / Arts Office, the Embassy of France in Ireland, the Embassy of Belgium in Ireland, Amarenco, Eurotranslations, Cameron Bakery, the Imperial Hotel, and Hegarty’s Cheese. Partners include The Gate Cinema, Institut Français, and the AIPLF (Association Irlandaise des Professeurs de Langue Française).

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