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Belfast Film Festival 2016

Date Posted: March 11, 2016

Belfast Film Festival today launches its 16th annual festival of premieres, unique events and the best in world cinema. In its biggest programme ever, over 133 films from 30 countries will be screened during 10 days from 14th to 23rd April.

The tantalising line-up includes new international cinema and documentaries; critically acclaimed television; features and shorts from local filmmakers; and plenty of post-screening discussions throughout the city.

Guests attending this year’s festival include widely renowned English screenwriter and director Terence Davies who will be honoured with the Belfast Film Festival Outstanding Contribution to Cinema Award. He will give a public talk about his career spanning 40 years including such seminal films as Distant Voices, Still Lives and The Long Day Closes that will be screened during the festival.

Traders is a thriller about recession-hit Ireland and the extreme, brutal lengths to which people will go to hang on to wealth and status. A stellar cast includes Killian Scott (RTE’s Love/Hate), John Bradley (Samwell Tarly in Game Of Thrones), Barry Keoghan (’71) and Olwen Fouéré (The Survivalist). Killian Scott will attend the screening with directors Rachael Moriarty and Peter Murphy.

Festival Director Michele Devlin said:

“This year’s Belfast Film Festival promises some truly exceptional world cinema including Argentinian mafia family drama The Clan; Japanese Yakuza thriller Mr Six; the Don Cheadle biopic of Miles Davis, Miles Ahead; black comedy Swansong featuring a superb cast of British and Irish talent including Eva Birthistle and Antonia Campbell-Hughes; Best Foreign Language Oscar nominee from Turkey, Mustang; and the epic endurance test that is the 6 hour Arabian Nights Trilogy. We’re also delighted that our closing night gala screening is the eagerly anticipated Stephen Frears biopic, Florence Foster Jenkins, starring Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant.

“It is exciting that this year sees more women directors in our programme than ever before. Lebanese director Danielle Arbid brings us fish out of water drama Parisienne; Light Years is BAFTA winner Esther May Campbell’s British family drama; and No Home Movie is the last film of Belgium feminist filmmaker Chantal Akerman.

“There will be a talk following the Sarah Edge screening on representations of women in the media; and Amnesty International explores the agency of women who challenge and respond creatively to anti-abortion laws in two very different contexts – a ship in offshore waters and a public hospital in Nicaragua.”

Festival Programmer Stephen Hackett said:

“We’re feeling very grown up as we reach 16. We can now buy premium bonds, fly a glider, drink cider accompanied by an adult, and consume liqueur chocolates. But sadly we’ll have to forgo these guilty pleasures as we sit in a darkened cinema for 10 days enjoying films in venues including Queen’s Film Theatre, Movie House Dublin Road, The Mac, Strand Arts Centre, the Sunflower, Cultúrlann, Duncairn Centre, the Black Box, and the Festival’s very own Beanbag Cinema.

“It’s unfair to ask a programmer to choose favourites, but since you ask – Embrace the Serpent is a psychedelic, Colombian adventure about a mystical tribal shaman who leads two western explorers through his disappearing world; Der Bunker is a dark, twisted and funny tale about home schooling in an isolated bunker mansion; Foreign Language Oscar winner Son of Saul is a thrilling Auschwitz drama; and Patrick Stewart is chilling as a white supremacist in Green Room. I’m also extremely pleased that Terence Davies will attend the festival. The Long Day Closes is one of my favourite ever films.”

Also in the programme is Departure, a young boy’s coming of age LGBT drama; and Tchindas zeros in on Cape Verde’s communal transformation for the annual Carnival, finding at its centre the spirited creative leadership of a trio of transgender and gay residents.

Scandinavia may have a reputation for producing dark and brooding dramas, but this year there’s a lighter touch. Starring the ever-watchable Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal), Men and Chicken is a bawdy, oddball Danish black comedy about two outcast brothers living in the wilderness. And Virgin Mountain is a heartwarming Icelandic comedy – a tale of redemption about a 43-year-old man still living with his mother who doesn’t have much luck in love.

Richard Williams, CEO, Northern Ireland Screen said:

“Northern Ireland Screen seeks to provide the people of Northern Ireland with the opportunity to see as wide a range of films as possible, including those made by the wealth of home-grown creative talent. Through our continued support from DCAL for Belfast Film Festival, we can help achieve this goal and make a significant contribution to film culture, education and training, and at the same time respond to the department’s imperative of promoting equality, targeting poverty and social exclusion. Belfast Film Festival produces an eclectic range of programming throughout the year, culminating in a remarkable festival of screenings and events over 10 days in April. We send our sincere good wishes to Michele and her team for another successful festival this year.”

Documentary Panorama

Belfast Film Festival’s choice of the most pioneering new documentary film includes those competing for the Maysles Brothers’ Documentary Film Award, as well as a cinematic panorama from around the world covering a diverse range of topics.

The Ukrainian pastor in Crocodile Gennadiy walks a thin line between humanitarianism and vigilantism as he takes homeless, drug-addicted kids off the streets – sometimes forcibly – for their own good.

Not Film exposes Samuel Beckett’s embattled collaboration with silent era genius Buster Keaton; and Remake Remix Rip-Off is a glorious celebration of the Turkish film industry in the 1970s, an era when they made their own rip-off versions of Hollywood blockbusters.

We’re Still Here: Johnny Cash’s Bitter Tears Revisited chronicles the fiftieth anniversary recording of Cash’s controversial concept record Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian; Alice Cooper, Deep Purple and Motorhead feature in Wacken 3D, the biggest ever heavy metal concert film; and the legendary local punk band are in fine voice in Outcasts by Choice.

Requiem For The American Dream interviews philosopher, social critic and political activist Noam Chomsky; and Sympathy For The Devil is a fascinating account of ‘The Process Church of the Final Judgment’ – a cult formed in 1960s England, with many members drawn from wealthy families and aristocracy.

Altered States

In the festival’s mind-bending Altered States programme, Embers is a post-apocalyptic film in which memory is a fragile commodity; When Marnie Met is the last anime film from Studio Ghibli; heavy metal meets horror in Deathgasm; and Welcome to the Flipside features gems of obscure 70s horror sci-fi.

TV Eye

TV Eye casts a critical look back at some of the most groundbreaking television from the last 40 years, including the manipulation of the news media in Acceptable Levels; a trilogy of TV dramas directed by Alan Clarke; Graham Reid’s futuristic Play for Tomorrow in 1982 anticipating how the Easter Rising would be commemorated in 2016; and Dag, a Norwegian comedy about a psychiatrist.

Local Filmmaking Talent

Amongst the exciting mix of newcomers and more established filmmaking talent featured in the Northern Ireland Independents and BFF Shorts Competition sections there is sure to be a future winning BAFTA or Oscar team just waiting to become the next Boogaloo and Graham (2015 BAFTA winner) or The Shore (2012 Oscar winner).

Special Events

And no Belfast Film Festival would be complete without its Special Events, and this year is no exception.

Donnie Darko and Sunrise will be performed with live soundtracks, and three films with exceptional sound design will be screened at Queen’s University Sonic Arts Research Centre (SARC) – The Creeping Garden, The Conversation and Das Boot.

Black Moon has programmed autism friendly screenings, Cultúrlann will feature children’s films in Gaelic, and Labyrinth with Davie Bowie, and the Martin Scorsese classic Taxi Driver merit 30th and 40th anniversary screenings.

In Tourism Northern Ireland’s year of food and drink, gin and gimlets are on the menu at Belfast Harbour Commissioners for The Long Goodbye, and the festival will be mixing things up at Cocktail night featuring the Tom Cruise classic followed by cheesy Eighties disco.

And who can resist an internationally acclaimed Cat Video Festival screening?

Booking Information

You can download the full programme at and tickets can be booked online, by phoning 028 9024 6609, or in person at Visit Belfast Welcome Centre in Donegall Square North.

Belfast Film Festival is funded by Northern Ireland Screen, Department for Culture, Arts & Leisure, BFI, Belfast City Council, Tourism Northern Ireland and supported by Peroni Italy and Europa Belfast. Media partner Belfast Telegraph.

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