3 OCTOBER 1958, Page 17


Ingots and Incas


NEVER again, I was telling my- self at Cork a week ago, do 1 wish to see an ingot, a sarong, a paddyfield, a symbolic dance, or a wave breaking over rocks. But the moment was as transi- tory as it was ungrateful, and the organisers of this year's Cork Film Festival must be congratulated alike upon their earnestness of purpose and their efficiency in giving it expression. Admittedly, they went too far. Nobody except the jury can see, or feel they ought to have seen, eighty films in one week, three-quarters of them Offered as shorts with a punch, without becoming punch-drunk. But a film festival that deliberately eschews bally- hoo, that plays down the competitive element so thoroughly that it does not in the least mind if many of its films have been seen before at other festivals, that adheres to 95 per cent. of its adver- tised programme, and that never starts a perfor- 'lance more than a few minutes late, is a festival worth supporting.

Nearly every morning there was a programme of varied shorts. Every afternoon more shorts and a feature-length travelogue. Every evening more shorts still and a feature film. There were alsO two series of 'tribute' prOgrammes, in which four of Flaherty's films were shown and four of Robert Bresson's, including Les Anges du Peche and Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne, still unseen in Lon- don. And there were lectures by Bjorn Rasmussen, the Danish film critic, by Joy Bachelor on the Halas-Bachelor approach to animation, complete with examples, and one by a film salesman who inveighed against film critics and the Irish film censorship, which his rather sparse audience, growing sparser as he proceeded, took in good part.

But audiences in general were not sparse, and quite clearly consisted of people who cared about good films and wished to see them and talk about them and hear.them talked about. If fewer films had been shown the standard would have been higher, which is a point that Cork should consider next year. Many of the documentaries and several of the feature films could with advantage have been eliminated, and the subject-matter of the former need then not have overlapped : we ought not, for instance, to have been invited twice down the road from Alaska to Central America and the Incas, and there was no real justification for the presence of the Greek or the Argentine incursions in the feature field. The Irish feature film, Sally's Irish Rogue, probably had to be shown, since Ireland's own film industry is,now but beginning, but it was a. flat affair which would have little appeal outside its own territory, though the Cork audience lapped it up, no doubt finding the indif- ferent recording less of an obstacle to enjoyment than it was for us foreigners.

For myself, I found most pleasure in Mario Monicelli's Padri e Figli, in which Vittorio de Sica disported himself, and a small boy named Franco di Trocchio captivated all hearts; in Arne Skouen's Nine Lives, a magnificent Norwegian resistance story which easily triumphed over occasional obscurities of narrative induced.by poor cutting; and, among the shorts, in several winners from France. I was impressed, though not moved, by Narayama, an uncompromisingly Japanese film which had nothing in common with the West but a wide screen. And I was tantalised by De Sica's second appearance, in a German film, Can non Serenade, maddeningly set in Italy but with German dialogue, which had a beautifully comic motif but failed to maintain its buoyancy. There was also a joyous slapstick feature from France, Le Triporteur, with Darry Cowl combining the glories of the cinema's simpler past with the harsh stridencies of its present-day humours. The United States was mainlyrepresented by the Hemingway- Tracy The Old. Matt and the Sea, and Britain, except in the documentary field, riot at all.

At the, end, of course, came the awards, and here Cork bent over backwards to be true to its serious- minded policy while dishing out statuettes, and presented also an Oscar for the best acting per- formance, which went to one of the cast of the Japanese film. All in all, despite the feverish over- crowding and consequent lowering of standards, the week was well worth while, arid I can only hark back to another Irish.Oscar and say that to assist at it was more than a duty, it was a pleasure.