The Festival has already revealed its coup of bringing Hollywood star John Cusack to the city to receive the Réalta Award for Outstanding Contribution to Cinema. Tickets for the event at Movie House Cinemas sold out within hours and screenings have been added of High Fidelity at Queen’s Film Theatre and Max at Strand Arts Centre, both of which John will attend and participate in a Q&A with the audience.
But it’s not all about Cusack! There are over 130 other films from 35 countries featuring the best in new cinema, big movie premieres, absorbing documentaries, and a local filmmakers’ showcase – plus quirky events including a Calamity Jane Sing-A-Long and a Star Trek Galaxy Quest.
Belfast Film Festival likes to claim it never has an overarching theme, but this year’s programme does feature something of a movie menagerie – the brilliant Studio Ghilbi’s new release The Red Turtle, female rivalry comedy drama Catfight, a Live Read of A Fish Called Wanda, and a Dog Film Festival.
Opening the 17th Belfast Film Festival is Mindhorn, already a contender for funniest film of the year. The film’s star, Julian Barratt (The Mighty Boosh), will attend the premiere of this new comic romp about a washed-up actor whose fictional detective from the 1980s is called upon to deal with a fugitive killer. DJ and music producer David Holmes is one of the film’s composers.
The Closing Gala is the European premiere of Bad Day for The Cut, a modern-day revenge thriller directed by Chris Baugh from local production company Six Mile Hill. The film stars Nigel O’Neill, Susan Lynch, Józef Pawlowski and Stuart Graham.
And there will be a special Mid-Week Gala of Handsome Devil, a funny and observant coming-of-age tale from Irish novelist and filmmaker John Butler (The Stag).
Padraig O’Malley is expected to attend a screening of The Peacemaker. For five years, filmmaker James Demo followed the international peacemaker through crisis zones from Nigeria to Iraq, and discovered an even more fractious frontline – O’Malley’s personal life.
Belfast Film Festival Director Michele Devlin said:
'We are delighted to bring to you a programme bursting with premieres, special guests, discussion, international documentaries, new Irish film and much more. Belfast Film Festival is pleased to extend a warm welcome to Golden Globe and BAFTA nominated actor, producer, screenwriter and author John Cusack as our special guest this year and are grateful to Tourism Ireland, Into Film, Film Hub NI and Movie House Cinemas for supporting his visit.
“But we are equally happy to welcome so many other filmmakers representing a diverse and breathtaking Festival line-up, from established producers, writers and directors to those just getting their feet on the industry ladder. With our Shorts and Northern Ireland Independent sections, supported by Performance Film & Media Insurance, we’re proud to support local talent by giving them a public platform for their work.'
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 Department for Communities for Belfast Film Festival, we can help achieve this goal and make a significant contribution to film culture, education and training. Belfast Film Festival produces an eclectic range of programming throughout the year, culminating in a remarkable festival of screenings and events. We are delighted to note that this year’s festival will be closed by the Northern Ireland Screen funded production Bad Day for the Cut which had its world premiere at the renowned Sundance Film Festival in February, as well as screening numerous shorts from our up and coming film-making talent.'
Programme highlights include the Oscar® nominated A Man Called Ove, World War II period comedy drama Their Finest starring Gemma Arterton, Mad to be Normal with David Tennant as controversial Scottish psychiatrist RD Laing, and Mark Cousins’ newest film Stockholm My Love starring Neneh Cherry.
In the Documentary Panorama, I Am Not Your Negro tackles race in modern America, Notes to Eternity is a meditation on the Israel-Palestine conflict, and Becoming Zlatan looks at the decisive years of Swedish soccer player Zlatan Ibrahimović.
Tickets are on sale at www.belfastfilmfestival.org and by phoning (028) 9024 6609 or in person at Visit Belfast Welcome Centre, 9 Donegall Square North, Belfast.
Belfast Film Festival is funded by Northern Ireland Screen, BFI, Belfast City Council and Tourism Northern Ireland. Media partners Cool FM and The Irish News.