Cork Film Festival opens in style with The Dancer

The 61st Cork Film Festival opens tomorrow night with the Irish premiere of Academy Award-nominee Steven Cantor’s acclaimed documentary Dancer, profiling bad-boy ballet star, Sergei Polunin.

Blessed with astonishing power and poise, Sergei Polunin took the dance world by storm and became the Royal Ballet’s youngest ever principal male dancer. He revolutionised notions of ballet and became a mainstream celebrity in his own right. At the peak of his success, aged 25, he walked away, driven to the brink of self-destruction by stardom.

This captivating documentary, which features a wealth of archive footage and interviews, traces Polunin’s journey, from his childhood, through his family background and the sacrifices that were made to send him to the Royal Ballet school at the age of 13. From there it records his rise to ballet stardom, culminating in his collaboration with David LaChapelle on the remarkable music video accompanying Hozier’s Take Me to Church.

Speaking ahead of the Festival’s opening night, Festival Producer Fiona Clark said: “This year’s Festival offers a diverse programme that can be savoured by all. Along with a broad selection of films, there are events such as the acclaimed Illuminate series on mental health, and debates exploring social and geopolitical issues reflected on the big screen by world-class cinema. The Festival aims to entertain, excite and engage, and we hope that our audiences find much to explore and enjoy.”

Some of the other highlights include Kristen Stewart and Michelle Williams’ drama Certain Women (winner of the Best Film at the recent BFI London Film Festival) which will also have its Irish premiere in Cork this Saturday at The Everyman. Further premieres across the opening weekend include The Unknown Girl and The Innocents on Saturday, while on Sunday, the focus is on the poignant Out of Innocence at the Triskel Christchurch, starring acclaimed Cork actress Fiona Shaw; along with The Miracle of Tekir, Hedi, and Frantz.

This weekend’s family-friendly programme includes Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, paying tribute to Roald Dahl’s 100th birthday and the late Gene Wilder. There will also be a selection of family-friendly shorts in the Gate Cinema, North Main Street on Sunday.

Ireland’s oldest film festival runs until 20 November, with more than 70 feature films, 52 documentary films, over 100 shorts, and 55 countries represented throughout the programme. The opening weekend will present premieres, thought-provoking documentaries, gripping debates, and fun family films. For full details of the programme and tickets, visit

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