THEY say that 13 is an unlucky number, but not so it seems for the organizers of the Belfast Film Festival. Returning later this month for the fourteenth time, the festival continues to go from strength to strength and any notion of superstition threw out the window after the success of the previous year’s programme, which saw record-breaking levels of attendance throughout the festival.
A new sponsor this year in O2 International Sim has allowed the organizer’s to really upscale their vision for this year’s line-up, with over 121 different screenings and events lined up throughout the festival’s 10 days. Audiences can look forward to one of the most diverse and varied programmes yet, offering viewers the opportunity to enjoy the best of domestic and foreign cinema.
Everything kicks off on Thursday 27th March at the Movie House Dublin Road with the opening night première of Diarmuid Lavery and Michael Hewitt’s motorcycling documentary, Road. Narrated by Liam Neeson, this candid documentary looks at the legacy and continued influence of the Dunlop family upon the sport of motorcycle road-racing.
Closing the festival nine days later at the same venue is a gloriously restored 3D print of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic Dial ‘M’ For Murder. The only film in the British director’s impressive back-catalogue ever shot specifically for 3D.
This year’s line-up has a real international feel to it, boasting films from 36 different countries from across the world, including Indonesia, Syria and Venezuela. Speaking during the programme’s launch at the Black Box, the Belfast Film Festival’s chairman Kevin Jackson said: “More and more international directors want to showcase their features at our festival and our aim is to send our international guests home buzzing about Belfast.”
But despite the increased presence of so many international filmmakers this year, the chairman was still keen to stress the festival’s ongoing commitment to local filmmakers. “The Belfast Film Festival has in its DNA the support of local talent.” He said, before adding: “Our aim and ambition is to continually showcase as many films by local filmmakers as we possibly can.” Events like the Film Devour and even the festival’s own short film competition are all designed to give local directors a platform and opportunity to showcase their burgeoning talent.
The festival’s organisers continue to excel in creating unique cinematic experiences as they take cinema outside its normal multiplex setting. From George Romero’s cult classic, Dawn of the Dead at the Belfast Waterfront featuring a live soundtrack accompaniment by Claudio Simonetti. To a screening of the classic comedy Mr Smith Goes to Washington at Parliament Buildings in Stormont, no matter what tickles your fancy there’s something for everyone this year.
For a full breakdown of the programme check out the festival’s website or lookout for their programme which is freely available from various outlets across Belfast. With only weeks to go until everything kicks off, festival organisers are advising people to book early to avoid disappointment.
By William McClean