The Belfast Film Festival returns to celebrate the film on the big screen for 2021

THE Belfast Film Festival returns next week with a return to live cinema screenings after last year’s festival was canceled due to Covid restrictions.

The theme of the 2021 festival is Bringing It All Back Home: and rightly so, it kicks off on November 4 with the Irish premiere of Kenneth Branagh’s new semi-autobiographical drama Belfast at the ICC at Waterfront Hall.

Inspired by the Bafta-winning director’s childhood in the city, Belfast stars Caitríona Balfe, Judi Dench, Jamie Dornan, Ciarán Hinds and newcomer Jude Hill in a story set amid the social and political upheavals of the late 1960s in Northern Ireland.

Having recently won the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, the opening screening of the Belfast Festival will be presented by Branagh himself and is expected to be attended by the cast members.

Elsewhere in the festival schedule, new Irish film talent will be showcased, including a screening of writer / director Stacey Gregg’s psychological thriller Here from east Belfast, with Andrea Riseborough (13 November, Odeon Belfast, 7pm) and a special screening of the occult tale Mandrake by Lisbon filmmaker Lynne Davison (November 6, Odeon Belfast, 7 p.m.).

The Belfast Film Festival will also present the Irish premiere of Lyra (November 7, Odeon Belfast, 7 p.m.), director Alison Millar’s documentary on the life, career and tragic death of murdered journalist Lyra McKee which she directed with the participation of Lyra’s family. , friends and partner.

Belfast-based documentary specialist Doubleband will release their first Irish-language feature film at the festival, Doineann (November 11, Odeon Belfast, 7 p.m.), directed by Damian McCann, written by Aislinn Clarke and starring Bríd Brennan.

Acclaimed filmmaker and president of the Belfast Film Festival, Mark Cousins, will present his new documentary The Storms of Jeremy Thomas (November 5, Odeon Belfast, 7 p.m.), an in-depth look at the Oscar-winning producer’s illustrious career explored via a road trip that saw the couple drive from London to Cannes.

There will also be a series of ‘in conversation’ events, including Dublin-born Oscar-winning director Jim Sheridan discussing his directorial career with award-winning producer Trevor Birney (November 6, QFT, 6:45 p.m.), and a chat live with Belfast-born actor Bríd Brennan discussing his long and distinguished career on screen and on stage.

Celebrity Belfast director Terry George will also be interviewed by Empire magazine editor-in-chief Helen O’Hara for the new project After Image? by Northern Ireland Screen Digital Film Archive (November 5, online). Portstewart-born Helen will also be discussing her new book Women vs Hollywood: The Fall and Rise of Women in Film during the festival (November 9, QFT, 6:45 p.m.).

As always, the Belfast Film Festival will bring a selection of classic films back to the big screen. This year’s film covers include Bringing Up Baby (November 4, Strand Arts Center, 2 p.m.), The War of The Roses (November 5, Beanbag Cinema, 7 p.m.), Dog Day Afternoon (November 9, QFT, 1 p.m.) and The Maltese Falcon (November 11, Strand Arts Center, 2 p.m.).

“The Belfast Film Festival” is bringing it all home “this year with a much needed sprinkle of stardust, as we welcome home some of our best-known international filmmaking talents”, s enthuses festival director Michele Devlin.

“The caliber of films screened is inspiring, showing that cinema is indeed making a comeback, and in particular, celebrating Irish film as it continues to thrive on the international circuit.

“We are delighted to host the Irish premiere of Kenneth Branagh’s ‘Belfast’. A true looping moment as the writer and director returns to a city far different from that portrayed in the film.

“Since the tragic murder of Lyra McKee in 2019, director Alison Miller has worked alongside her loved ones to tell the story of her friend Lyra. Alison’s film is a painful and joyful tribute to the late journalist , a beautifully crafted testimony of a young woman, her untimely death and its devastating impact.

The film is edited by Chloe Lambourne (‘For Sama’ 2019) with a soundtrack by award-winning producer / songwriter David Holmes.

“We are delighted to welcome many other local, new and experienced filmmakers including Bríd Brennan and Jim Sheridan to join us in celebrating their impressive careers.

“We look forward to welcoming filmmakers and audiences once again for 10 days of guests, discussions, music, films and big screen fun. We missed you.”

:: Belfast Film Festival, November 4-13. Full program and tickets available on

Gerald R. Schneider

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