Úna Feely, Co-Director of IndieCork Festival, celebrates a decade of the much-loved celebration of independent film and music, ahead of this year's installment, which runs from October 2nd – 9th.

Johnny Cash wasn't wrong when he sang of the fever of impulsive enterprises.

We started IndieCork Festival ten years ago, in a bit of a fever. A group of friends set out to create a new film festival for Cork, starting from scratch and with just six months to pull it together. One of the main goals was that the festival be in shared ownership, formed as a co-operative, making IndieCork Ireland’s only arts festival with this structure. And as we prepare to celebrate the 10th festival at The Gate Cinema, Cork, from October 2nd – 9th, that remains one of the aspects of IndieCork that we’re most proud of.

In truth, the festival was borne out of the determination of some very committed people who, ten years later, are mostly still at the helm of the project: Tony Langlois, Mick Hannigan, Arthur Leahy, Eileen Hogan, Ger Marshall, Ronan Leonard, Elke O’Mahony and Niall Owens, plus the very many film-loving supporters who signed up as members of the co-op. Volunteers emerged with great generosity. A young Eibh Collins joined us as our first festival manager and stayed for seven years, making a great contribution.

Screenwriter Kate Perry and Director Matthew McGuigan collect an IndieCork award
for their film 'Ruthless' in 2021 (Pic: Marcin Lewandowski)

I still remember us rolling around the words 'Indie’ and ‘Cork,’ until it made one word, and once formed, it was the only name possible for the festival. Inspired partly by our friends at Portugese festival, IndieLisboa, it also felt right and proper for a Cork festival that was looking to showcase independent film and music.

Our first visit was to The Gate Cinema, the perfect festival partner, managed then by someone who loves cinema, and who has an innate understanding of the industry, Margaret Greene. We were hugely encouraged by her enthusiasm over the past ten years, and by that of her colleague Tracey O’Brien. We knew with the support of The Gate, a proper festival was possible. Another milestone came in 2015 with Blacknight, the Irish web-hosting company, coming onboard as sponsors. This support has seen the festival reach another level.

Úna Feely, Co-Director of the IndieCork Festival (Pic: Darragh Kane)

What were we trying to do? There’s an extraordinary amount of talent that, for various reasons, doesn’t make it into the industry’s film distribution system. Along with my fellow traveller (and all-round legend) Mick Hannigan, we wanted to showcase the kind of films not necessarily making it onto the red, pink or green carpets; outstanding films with singular vision that Irish film audiences should have access to. Equally, we wanted to welcome Irish talent that needed a home.

IndieCork embodies what’s known as "Indie film" and it’s a moveable feast, with evolving definitions. On the music side, Tony Langlois has built an impressive back catalogue of sounds and performances, rooted in collaboration, as the festival is on every level.

Acclaimed US filmmaker Bill Morrison at IndieCork

There are many highlights over the past ten years: visiting filmmakers such as the brilliant Bill Morrison, packed houses at The Gate for the Cork films, publishing the Cork musicmakers CD during lockdown, sound performances at the artistic hub run by The Guest House collective - one that stands out is An Evening Without Scott Walker, becoming a BAFTA-nominating festival last year, the designers, photographers and graphic artists that support us, and the bright sparks that get the film copies to us and who work with the festival simply because they like it.

It takes a village to raise a festival, and that’s what makes IndieCork: the people who contribute to it, creatively and otherwise. Sometimes keeping the show on the road feels like spinning way too many plates but, at ten years old, we’re in a good place, and excitedly looking to the next horizon.

IndieCork 2022 runs from October 2nd – 9th - find out more here.