Illuminate is Cork Film Festival’s unique series of film and discussion events that uses film to explore different aspects of mental health and wellbeing.   These carefully curated events are unique in enabling dialogue about mental health in an open and welcoming space. The 2018 programme includes a new documentary, a debut feature and a classic film title, offering three very distinct platforms for discussion.

For the Birds examines one woman’s obsessive connection, whilst Trauma is a Time Machine explores the emotional consequences of sexual abuse. Both screenings are followed by an extended panel discussion and Q&A session comprising of filmmakers, artists, mental health professionals, service end users, ethicists and advocates.

This year we are especially delighted to welcome director Frank Berry (Michael Inside, 2017 Audience Award; I Used to Live Here, 2014), as a special Illuminate contributor. We invited Frank, as an established and respected director and  an empathetic advocate for Mental Health in Ireland, to choose and champion a film that has inspired and influenced him. Frank will present an extended introduction to Ordinary People.

‘When asked to pick a film influence for the Illuminate strand, Ordinary People was the first film that came to mind, probably because of the sheer impact it had on me as a teenager. A  visceral story about how the accidental death of a teenage boy affects his family, Ordinary People revealed to me that films could be much more than entertainment. For me, it’s one   of those early influences that you carry around with you as a measure of what a film can do and mean to a person.’

Frank Berry is an Irish filmmaker working in both drama and documentary. His career began   with ten years of community filmmaking and television, and this work   has led to three   award-winning and critically acclaimed feature films: Ballymun LullabyI Used to Live Here and Michael Inside.

Trauma is a Time Machine

Helen (Augie Duke) rattles around her cramped apartment struggling to come to terms with being raped by her boyfriend. The incident has thrown up painful memories from her past, and Helen has to confront her denial, anger and self-destructive instincts in order to get through her trauma and liberate herself. Shot in stark black and white and featuring a striking, courageous performance from Duke in the lead role, the debut feature from Angelica Zollo is a frank, fearless exploration of the emotional consequences of sexual abuse, a timely and impactful statement from an auspicious filmmaker on the rise.

Winner, Best Independent Film, Taormina International Film Festival 2018

Winner, Best Director, The Art of Brooklyn Film Festival 2018

Mary Crilly, director of Sexual Violence Centre Cork will introduce the screening along with the film’s director Angelica Zollo. Angelica will also take part in a post-screening conversation with Michael Hayden, Programme Director of Cork Film Festival.

For The Birds

Richard Miron’s raw, absorbing vérité documentary follows Kathy, who lives in Wawarsing, New York with her husband Gary and 200 pet chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys. Her situation inevitably brings attention from local animal advocacy groups, who have concerns about the welfare of the birds. Yet what starts as a depiction of a woman battling with authorities develops into a more complex and compassionate portrait of how her obsessive connection with these birds puts everything else in her life at risk, as the situation takes its toll on her marriage, as well as her physical and mental health.

The film will be followed by a post-screening discussion, which will consider the importance of community in mental health and well-being.


  • James O Flynn – Participant, An Open Door
  • Johnny Goodwin – Programme Lead for Undergraduate Mental Health Nursing, UCC
  • Declan McCarthy – Assistant Director of Nursing, Adult Mental Health Services | Cork Kerry Community Healthcare
  • Kevin O’Shanahan – Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • Aoise Tutty – Director, An Open Door

Ordinary People

Robert Redford’s multi-Oscar®-winning directorial debut stars Donald Sutherland and Mary Tyler Moore as a wealthy Chicago couple struggling to come to terms with the death of one son and the attempted suicide of another. This special screening, part of the Illuminate series, is introduced by filmmaker Frank Berry (Michael Inside), who describes the impact it had on him: ‘Ordinary People revealed to me that films could be much more than entertainment. For me, it’s one of those early influences that you carry around with you as a measure of what a film can do and mean to a person.’

Including an extended introduction by Award-Winning Irish Filmmaker, Frank Berry, who has curated the film for the Illuminate series.