Irishtown company wins at Cork Film Festival

Photo courtesy of Samson Films

By David Prendeville

Irishtown company Samson Film’s Float Like a Butterfly triumphed at November’s 63rd Cork Film Festival, picking up the audience award.

The film also opened the festival to a rapturous reception. Directed by Carmel Winters, it is set for Irish release in the new year. Winters said of the award: “Winning the audience prize at the oldest and largest festival in Ireland is the greatest gift I could wish for. So many of us bared heart and soul to make this film. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Cork, for championing the right of all of us to be our truest and best selves.”

This follows on from the film’s big win in Toronto in September, where it bagged the prestigious FIPRESCI prize.

Float Like a Butterfly is described as: “a powerful and timely story of a girl’s fight for freedom and belonging.” In a gender-reversal of the classic film Billy Elliot, 15-year-old Frances has to fight for the right to fight back. Raised in roadside camps in rural Ireland, Frances wants to champion her people inside the boxing and out, like her idol Muhammad Ali, but society is determined to break her spirit and destroy her way of life.

Winters has said of her film: “I am committed to making film that offers society a way of seeing, understanding and ultimately transforming itself. I think Float Like A Butterfly has a unique contribution to make to our current global reckoning of the abuse of power, and what it costs us. As I see it, patriarchy not only bitterly fails its daughters, it fails its fathers too.”

It was a very strong line-up at this year’s festival. Many of the national and international festival big-hitters were shown. Of the films I saw at the festival, the standout was Peter Strickland’s lush, seductive comedy-horror In Fabric.

Strickland, the extraordinarily talented and idiosyncratic British auteur, follows the masterful The Duke of Burgundy, with another beautifully eccentric, utterly unique picture. It stars Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Hayley Squires and Leo Bill and centres around a haunted dress and its various owners.

As fans of Strickland have come to expect, the film is rich in alluring visuals and a hypnotic use of rich sound design. This magnificent film is set to open in Dublin early in the new year and really is something worth savouring.