Bringing Mexico to West Cork
With the help of sponsorship from the Barry & Fitzwilliam Corona brand, a West Cork film festival has grown into an event of international standards since its launch just two years ago.
THIS year the Fastnet Short Film Festival takes the honours for the Best Small Sponsorship – under €25,000 value category in the Allianz Business to Arts Awards.
The annual festival, which is held in the West Cork seaside village of Schull and brings together established and first-time filmmakers, has already attracted two film productions to the local area. Its organisers, meanwhile, have established a relationship with the Mexican Institute of Cinematography to bring a Mexican strand to the programme – an obvious fit for the sponsor. When Barry & Fitzwilliam managing director Michael Barry was initially approached by the event's organisers in 2009, his company had already been sponsoring the Cork Film Festival for two years. "I've always liked film and I thought we might get a share of noise for Corona by sponsoring the Cork event," says Barry.
"We would believe that everyone who goes to the cinema is a potential Corona customer, or anyone who loves film is a potential Corona customer. "When the Schull people came to me, I was a bit reticent because I was doing one film festival already. But I said I'd give them some time. After about five minutes I decided I'd have to support these people, because they had such passion and enthusiasm for what they were doing. "There was also an element of supporting Schull, because West Cork has been good to us as a business over the last 29 years. It was a bit about putting something back into the community."
This year, the festival faced an additional challenge when the local hotel, which had previously provided the main screening rooms, was put into NAMA. The novel solution was to stream the films to venues all over the village, including pubs, restaurants, shops, the library and on sides of buildings. As the organisers said: "We ask the question 'What is a cinema?' and look for answers in every corner of the village". According to Barry, the benefit for Corona of the sponsorship has been great exposure. And, the fact that this year's winning film was, by coincidence, Mexican has been a bonus, he says.
"In terms of the exposure and the PR activity that they generate, the column inches are a wow, and that's how we would measure it," he adds. "It's a very good sponsorship from that point of view."