Belfast Film Festival

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Belfast Film Festival
Belfast Film Festival logo.jpg
Opening film 16 April 2015
Closing film 25 April 2015
Location Belfast, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
Founded 1994
as West Belfast Film Festival by Laurence McKeown and Féile an Phobail
Language English, Irish, mixed

Founded in 1995 by author Laurence McKeown, in its early stages of development the West Belfast Film Festival was part of Féile an Phobail. In its third and fourth year, it was autonomous and under the stewardship of Michele Devlin and Laurence McKeown, the Film Festival ran as a citywide event and became the Belfast Film Festival in the year 2000. 2015 will see the fifteenth programme roll out across the city. The Festival's activities are entertaining and provocative, and in many instances provide an important platform for debate across the religious, social and cultural divides in Northern Ireland. The presentation of site specific events and innovative ways to screen film is one of the festival's specialities; films can be viewed on a boat in the River Lagan, with live piano accompaniment in St Anne's Cathedral, collaborating with local talent such as Duke Special and David Holmes on audio visual performances and profiling unique architectural sites such as a screening of an episode of the TV series The Prisoner in Church of Christ Scientist, Church in Belfast. The Festival promotes film education and practical filmmaking skills and has attracted film industry guests such as Seamus Mc Garvey, Brendan Gunn and John Lynch. The Festival has a remit to showcase local talent and the best in new International cinema. Belfast Film Festival initiated a documentary film competition called The Maysles Brothers Award in 2006 to celebrate the best work in the medium.


Co-founded in the mid-1990s by author Laurence McKeown,[1] it was originally called the West Belfast Film Festival and was run by Féile an Phobail. The festival became a citywide event in 2000.

Two weeks after the 2004 event, the festivals offices in Donegall Street's historic North Street Arcade were decimated by fire. Despite losing their base, entire history and all their records the festival recovered and was able to stage the event again in 2005. The 2005 festival was held from 7 to 16 April. Opened by local actor Stephen Rea, the festival featured screenings including Bullet Boy, Les Choristes and Palindromes. Jonathan Caouette hosted a workshop about the making of his film Tarnation, which was the festivals closing night screening. A strong emphasis is put on showcasing the work of local film makers. Later in 2005 the festival hosted two drive-in cinema nights as part of the Belfast Festival at Queens.

The 2006 festival featured premieres of locally made features GuinnessSize Me, Wilderness and The Secret Life of Words. The festival also featured the inaugural Maysles Brothers award for best documentary feature. The award was won by Kim Longinotto. In September 2006 the Festival organised an event called 'The Hills are alive', an outdoor film screening at Belfast Castle on Cavehill.

The 7th Belfast Film Festival opened on 23 March 2007 with the premiere of Kenneth Branagh's The Magic Flute. Guests included Oscar winning actress Julie Christie presenting her new film Away From Her. Other festival guests included Cinematographer Seamus McGarvey and screenwriter Jimmy McGovern.

The 8th Belfast Film Festival took place on 10–19 April 2008, and hosted over 120 screenings, workshops, discussions, masterclasses and special events in a 10-day period. The festival also held an international documentary competition – Maysles Brothers Documentary Award and a national short film competition – Jameson Short Film Competition in association with Kodak.

The festival takes places in various venues around the city including the Strand Cinema, the Waterfront Hall, the Culturlann Centre, the John Hewitt Bar, Queen's Film Theatre and the Black Box. For six years the festival has hosted the Belfast World Pong Championships.

The 2009 Jameson Belfast Film Festival took place from 26 March to 4 April and featured the Irish premieres of movies including Salvador Dalí biopic Little Ashes and local feature film Cherrybomb, featuring Harry Potter star Rupert Grint.[2]

The 2012 Belfast Film Festival opened with the world premiere of D'Barros Sa's & Leyburn's Good Vibrations, and closed with the premiere of Oscar Winner Terry George's Whole Lotta Sole, starring Brendan Fraser, who attended the event.

The 2013 Belfast Film festival took place from 11–21 April and featured the Irish premiere of György Pálfi's Final Cut, guests such as Jonathan Coe, Toni Grisoni, Mark Kermode, directors Mark Cousins, Laura Coella and Nina Davenport, as well as outdoor screenings of Cool Hand Luke at The Crumlin Road Gaol, Evil Dead II in Ormeau Park and Zefferelli's La Traviata at St. Anne's Cathedral.

The Belfast Film Festival team

Festival Director: Michele Devlin

Programmer: Stephen Hackett

Maysles Brothers Competition Curator: Cian Smyth

Marketing: Damian Connor

Outreach Development: Vittoria Cafolla

Administrator/Finance: Laura McKeown

Board of directors: Kevin Jackson (Chair), Brian Henry Martin, Mark Cousins, Laurence McKeown, Louise O'Meara, Kevin Jackson, Sarah Jones, Cahal McLaughlin

Patrons: Terry George, David Holmes, Pat Murphy and William Crawley



Short Film Competition
The White Dress Dir. Vanessa Gildea
Maysles Brother's Competition (documentary)
Nomadak TX Dir. Raul de la Fuente


Short Film Award
James Dir. Conor Clements
Maysles Brother's Competition (documentary)
End of the Rainbow Dir. Robert Nugent


Short Film Award
Of Best Intentions, Dir. Brian Durnin
Maysles Brother's Competition (documentary)
Presumed Guilty, Dir. Robert Hernandez
Audience Award
Cherrybomb Dir. Lisa Barros D'Sa and Glenn Leyburn

2010 Winners

Short Film Competition
Chronoscope Dir. by Andrew Legge
Maysles Brother's Documentary Competition
October Country Dir. by Michael Palmieri & Donal Mosher
Audience Award
Cupcake Dir. by Colin McIvor
Outstanding Contribution to Cinema Award
Ciarán Hinds
Lifetime Achievement Award
Haskell Wexler

2011 Winners

Audience Award Simple Simon Dir- Andrea Ohman

Short Film Competition Even Gods Dir- Phil Harrison

Maysles Brothers Documentary Award Marwencol- Dir- Jeff Malmberg

2012 Winners

Audience Award Good Vibrations Dirs. Glenn Leyburn & Lisa Barros D'Sa

Short Film Competition Exhale Dir. Mal Campbell

Maysles Brothers Documentary Award The Tiniest Place Dir. Tatiana Huezo

2013 Winners

Audience Award- Much Ado About Nothing Dir. by Joss Whedon[3]
Short Film Competition – Toy Soldiers – Dir. by Mike Hayes

Maysles Brothers Documentary AwardBad Boy High Security Cell- Dir. by Janusz Mrozowski

2014 Winners

Audience Award The Lunchbox Dir. Ritesh Batra

Winner - Short Film Competition Rúbaí Dir. Louise Ní Fhiannachta

Maysles Brothers Documentary Award Sepideh - Reaching for the Stars Dir. Berit Madsen


The festival is funded by the Belfast City Council, Northern Ireland Screen and the department for Social Development .

2013 - Peroni, The Belfast Telegraph & Selective Travel

2014 - Peroni, The Belfast Telegraph & 02 International Sim[4]

See also


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External links