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Priceless movie memorabilia up for grabs in film festival’s ‘silent’ auction

Friday, 15th March, 2019 11:50am
Priceless movie memorabilia up for grabs in film festival’s ‘silent’ auction

Framed doodle by director Mike Leigh, top, of a prickly pear, his own nickname.

Items from Star Wars, Hercule Poirot and David Puttnam are among those being auctioned by Schull’s Fastnet Film Festival at a fundraiser this month. 

The festival is offering the public a chance to get their hands on unusual film memorabilia, artefacts and curios, while also helping transform their new headquarters. 

The headquarters was the former AIB in the heart of the village and will be developed into a world-class performance centre consisting of a 120-seater auditorium with stage, cinema, rooms for workshops, archives, greenscreen, an editing suite and more.

To help with related costs, this fun silent auction will take place in the village on March 16th where, for every €1 raised on the night, the sponsor will contribute €2. 

One item up for auction includes two original genuine black leather and stainless steel 1930s screening room chairs in mint condition from the home cinema of Harry Cohn, co-founder, president, and production director of Columbia Pictures Corporation. 

Donated by David and Patsy Puttnam,  David explained their background: ‘We acquired these two chairs in 1987 when we were living in Los Angeles, and they were in my office throughout my tenure as chairman of Columbia Pictures. 

‘We’re assured the chairs came from the private screening room of my most illustrious predecessor, Harry Cohn. Cohn was famously opinionated and ritually insulted everyone who worked for him. One day Herman Mankiewicz, who wrote the screenplay of Citizen Caine, entered the studio dining room to find himself at the receiving end of a stream of barbed insults. 

‘Harry Cohn eventually went into a monologue, explaining that he had an infallible test of a film’s likely success or failure – and it was his own behind. “If it itches, the picture stinks. If it doesn’t itch, the picture’s going to be a hit!” A brief silence was broken by Mankiewicz yelling back, “whoever knew the entire American motion picture audience was wired to Harry Cohn’s ass.” The room shook with laughter, at which point the writer went down to his office, cleared his desk, and left the studio for good. 

‘I’ve often thought that, had these chairs been less comfortable, the history of American motion pictures could have been different – every film might have been a good deal shorter!’

The live event will take place at the Fastnet Film Centre in Schull on Saturday March 16th. Doors will open at 7.30pm. 

The €10 entry fee includes live music, wine, canapés and registration. Online bidding is already open and more items are being listed during the week at www.32auctions.com/FFFAuction.

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