As the home grown stars and press descend upon Belfast’s Black Box to witness the launch of the city’s 10th Film Festival, running from 15th – 30th April, as a genuine lover of all things cinema, you can’t help but be elated how the event has transformed over the past decade.
Starting originally as a small element within the west of the city the Belfast Film Festival has now become a main cultural fixture in the Northern Ireland calendar. Belfast might be an ever changing city, but what has not changed is its everlasting love affair with the cinema.
Lord Mayor of Belfast, Naomi Long, commented: “The Belfast Film Festival has grown to become a flagship annual event in the city’s calendar. It promotes our city and its people on both an international and national stage, and its reputation for innovation and creativity is widely regarded. The city of Belfast is extremely proud of these achievements and we look forward to the 20th, 30th and 40th birthday celebrations and beyond.”
The BFF once again continues to showcase the filmmaking talent coming out of Northern Ireland, with world premieres of locally made productions such as Empire – a film set in Belfast, shot over three years on a zero budget and loosely based on the Greek myth of Orpheus.
Other premieres include Five Day Shelter, starring BAFTA nominated John Lynch, a highly visual drama interweaving the lives of several characters in a contemporary urban setting over five days.
While indie cinema fans, of the weird and wonderful, are bound to be excited by Colin McIvor’s directorial debut, Cupcake, which tells the tale of a man who inherits his parent’s bakery which promises to be a visual feast for all the senses.
Serving as a reminder to the past is the imaginative Mickey B, a feature film adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, made with serving prisoners as cast, in Northern Ireland’s infamous maximum security prison HMP Maghaberry
An eccentric range of innovative filmic events once again dominate the programme, including a screening of Stephen Sommers’ modern B-Movie hit, Deep Rising, while the audience sail down the River Lagan. The John Hughes 80s masterpiece, Pretty in Pink, shown in Belfast nightclub Slide. A workshop presented by BBC presenter, William Crawley, dissecting the ‘anatomy’ of the legendary 1957 courtroom epic, 12 Angry Men directed by Sidney Lumet, as well as, screening an episode from the cult 60s TV show, The Prisoner, inside the First Church of Christ which will be followed by a discussion on the importance of architectural heritage in Belfast.
Opening the BFF will be the UK/Irish premiere of Triage, starring Colin Farrell as war photographer Mark Walsh while closing this year’s festivities is the UK premiere of Tetro, the latest film from the institutional Francis Ford Coppola – also his first original screenplay since The Conversation.
In partnership with the Shruti Foundation and Lady Rana, the BFF will also have in attendance, Shyam Benegal – one of India’s most highly regarded filmmakers – who will give a public lecture at the Great Hall in Queen’s University on 22nd April. Two of his films Zubeidaa and The Making of the Mahatma are set to be screened.
One of the most appealing prospects of the festival, for most of the public, is the vast range of high profile productions set to screen over the 16 day programme including Noah Baumbach’s - screenwriter of The Life Aquatic, Fantastic Mr Fox and The Squid and the Whale - Greenberg, starring Ben Stiller, the Russian made Tsar – a film about the 16th Century Ivan the Terrible – as well a showing of Paul Schrader’s - screenwriter of Taxi Driver - Adam Resurrected, the quirky black comedy Dogtooth, the powerful Vincere – based on the life of Bentio Mussolini’s first wife, Ida Dalsar – the visually spectacular Japanese feature Symbol amongst many others.
The BFF also hopes to break the boundaries of offering audiences some visual treats mixing the sights of modern and classic cinema with contemporary sounds of performers such as Denmark’s Efterklang and the USA’s Wooden Shjips.
As a way to support the increasing numbers of aspiring filmmakers, writers and producers in Northern Ireland and their thirst to know more about ‘the business’. Organisers have set up a two day seminar called Northern Exposure = Deal Closure. The event will bring in key London sales agents, distributors, producers and literary talent agents for a series of four industry-focused panel sessions and discussion groups. Confirmed panellists include BAFTA nominee Tony Grisoni (Red Riding Trilogy), Robin Gutch (producer Warp X), Hilary Davis (Banksdale Films), Stephen Murphy (Optimum Releasing) and Nick Marston (Curtis Brown Agency) plus more.
Full information on tickets and the programme in its entirety is now available on the official Belfast Film Festival website at http://www.belfastfilmfest