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Irish film festival celebrates French cinema with historic French ship

A 126-year-old ship, which was classified as a Monument historique in 1984, sailed into Cork and served as the centre of the festival’s opening

A photo of the Port of Cork

The historic ship entered the Port of Cork as part of the film festival dedicated to French films Pic: D. Ribeiro / Shutterstock

A historic French sailing ship has been featured at the centre of an Irish film festival to celebrate French cinema, after the details of the event were unveiled on board.

The 126-year-old Belem ship arrived at the Port of Cork on Tuesday, August 30. Deputy head of mission from the Embassy of France in Ireland, Marianne Barkan-Cowdy, was among those to be invited to the opening of the 33rd French Film Festival. 

The festival details were revealed on board the ship. The event begins today (September 1) and is set to last until September 4. It will show 11 films across a range of genres, all of which celebrate French cinema.

The films will also celebrate Francophone directors and actors.

The event opened with a screening of Délicieux, a film set before the French Revolution in 1789. Watchers were offered French-inspired food as an accompaniment.

The festival has been directed by Josselin Le Gall and Valérie David-McGonnell for Alliance Française de Cork (AFC), and its festival partners include the Institut Français, and the Association Irlandaise des Professeurs de Langue Française.

Mr Le Gall, honorary consul of France in Cork, Kerry and Waterford, and director at AFC, described how the ship had helped to open the show.

He said: “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 Belem first served as a luxury yacht and narrowly escaped volcanic eruptions in the Caribbean, She was later owned by the Guinness Family from 1922, and was renamed the Fantôme II.

The ship was later sold and renamed several times, and returned to France in 1979. She is now owned by the Fondation Belem, and has been fully restored. She received the title of Monument Historique de France in 1984.

The full festival programme can be seen on the official website here.

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