Following the huge success of the Cork Costume Trail in 2020, we invited visitors to explore the Festival’s unique heritage and the cultural footprint of film in Cork through a connected series of vibrant visual exhibits at a range of venues throughout the city, which could be followed using our online map and accompanying podcast.

Showcasing treasures from the Festival’s pioneering history, including photos, posters, brochures, correspondence and newspaper clippings from CIFF’s Digital Archive, and complementing our celebration of ground-breaking female filmmakers in our Female Visions retrospective, there was lots to explore on the Trail of Discovery, including CIFF’s commission of Crashers, a bespoke new artwork from Cork-based digital media artist and Sample-Studios Graduate Artist-in-Residence Elinor O’Donovan, and stunning costumes from the Irish Costume Archive Project.

Audiences could catch a film, and then wander along our Trail of Discovery (following our free online map on the myCIFF app or on, soaking up the Festival atmosphere and enjoying the finest hospitality Cork has to offer.

Trail of Discovery Competition (now closed)

These goodies included CIFF Festival Friend membership & merchandise, 24 cans of Murphy’s + four glasses, a €100 One4All voucher, West Cork Coffee, Shandon Sweets and a notebook and storyboarder from Badly Made Books

Lens of Celebrity (Location: The River Lee, Western Road)

The women who frequented the festival were predominantly and consistently objectified by the lens of celebrity. With this in mind, they lived in the media spotlight with or without their permission represented here by the use of Fiona Shaw’s costume from My Left Foot surrounded by cameras, kindly loaned to us by the Irish Costume Archive Project. Listen to Fiona Clark, Director & CEO of Cork International Film Festival, discuss this further here:

Censorship (Location: The Gate Cinemas, North Main Street)

Censorship has been a strong part of life in Ireland, particularly the censorship of art and most notably, film. The Film Censorship Board used the ten commandments as their guide and many films featuring female sexuality, agency, autonomy and freedom faced extensive cuts or the prospect of being banned altogether. Listen to Dr Ciara Chambers, Head of the Department of Film & Screen Media, UCC talk about this topic further here:

Female Agency (Location: Grand Parade (former Argos unit))

When British Film actress Dawn Addams attended the festival, she requested a milk bath from the Metropole Hotel. The hotel refused but Ms. Addams was later obliged by a hotel in Dublin. Though Addams appeared in a range of promotional activities for the festival, this was not one of them. Instead, Ms. Addams said it was a publicity stunt suggested to her by a columnist from London. Listen to director Carmel Winters discuss this further here:

Glamour (Location: The Metropole Hotel Cork, MacCurtain Street)

Cork International Film Festival blended the exotic glamour of international starlets with the locality of Cork City. The result was a juxtaposition of red carpet glamour in the Irish landscape, with many starlets posing in fields, on tractors, or kissing the Blarney Stone. Listen to Anna Kopecká, Director of Programming at Cork International Film Festival, here:



Cork International Film Festival commissioned emerging visual artist and Sample-Studios Graduate Artist in Residence, Elinor O’Donovan to create a unique contemporary artwork in response to our programme at the 66th Cork International Film Festival in November 2021.

This stunning work reflects the Female Visions Retrospective themes (which are also part of this Trail of Discovery) and reflects the space in which women have existed in the film world, highlighted throughout the years of the CIFF and allows for the well-known male gaze to be inverted and for the female gaze to usurp her own power. Read her full statement about this artwork here and listen to a short podcast linking her work to the Trail.

About Elinor O’Donovan 
Based in Cork City, Elinor studied Intermedia at Edinburgh College of Art, graduating in 2019 with first class honours. She has since secured artist bursaries from The Arts Council of Ireland and Cork City Council and had her work featured on RTÉ’s Nationwide. With her colourful digital collages and prints, she explores artefacts of internet culture, such as memes and stock photos, visualising the porousness of the so-called ‘digital divide’. As Graduate Artist in Residence at Sample Studios, which is partnering with CIFF on this project, Elinor held her first solo exhibition, Brain Worms, at The Lord Mayor’s Pavilion, Fitzgerald’s Park, Cork from 7th August to 9th September 2021.

This project is funded by The Arts Council of Ireland Commissions Award 2021.

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