So it's that time of the year again. My favourite time of the year in fact. Belfast Film Festival time!!
As always the programme is jam packed with great premieres, fun events and a plethora of film from across the world.
This year the festival welcomes John Cusack to Belfast and to celebrate this screenings of Max, High Fiedlity and a Q+A have all been scheduled and sold out.
So if you don't have a ticket to any of those where should you go?
Festivals are a great chance to see films long before their cinematic release. Some gems may still be in pursuit of distribution so it may be you never see them again!
I've browsed the program and among the 'bigger' films here are my picks for the festival period.
Stockholm My Love
Mark Cousins and Neneh Cherry team up for this superb ‘is it a doc, or is it fiction’ film. Cherry’s Alva is a character whose life mirrors some broad facets of her own (an artist with an African father and Swedish mother). She’s trapped under the steely grey skies of Stockholm, struggling with debilitating depression, the result (we soon learn) of a traumatic incident a year earlier. Due to give a lecture on the city’s architecture, she bunks off and takes us through the city, exploring buildings, bridges, a cinema, with each place revealing more about her life and state of mind.
Any time a Mark Cousins film appears at Belfast Film Festival it is the first thing I mark in the programme. Unique and always compelling there should be more acclaim given this wonderful talent. This is my must see of the festival!
Stockholm my Love screens on Wednesday 5 April 4pm at QFT in Belfast. Tickets available here.
What limits us? Is it age, gender, money? What if it’s all three and you still decide to take on the impossible?
This is exactly what Carol Fraser did after befriending Chetan, a local rickshaw wallah working in the northern city of Manali in Himachal Pradesh, India. At the age of 76 she embarked on a mission to build a house for herself, Chetan and his family of dalits, formerly known as untouchables. Together they hatched a plan to build the house of their dreams, funded by an altogether alternative money making scheme, a journey into the high Himalayas and the friendship of a taxi driving monk.
This is a unique story of faith, courage and magical thinking. A story of how the dream of finally having her own home, and a family to support her comes true for an elderly English teacher. It’s ‘The Marigold Hotel’ meets ‘Lost Horizon’.
Reading that description from the programme you can tell why this is a Films and Faith pick. A story of faith, courage and magical thinking is certainly a description that appeals.
Outcaste screens on Sunday 2 April, MovieHouse Dublin Road at 4pm. Tickets are available here.
The Other Side of Hope
Six years after the sublime, award-winning ‘Le Havre’, Aki Kaurismäki returns with the second film in a planned trilogy focusing on port cities. Kaurismäki regular Sakari Kuosmanen stars as Wikstrom, a poker-playing restaurateur and former travelling salesman who crosses paths with a Syrian refugee who has just arrived in Finland. Shot on 35mm in Helsinki by Timo Salminen, ‘The Other Side of Hope’ promises topicality and plaintive emotions as Kaurismäki tackles the most pressing of global issues: the plight of the refugee.
With the refugee crisis still a very present issue this film may help us to see the humanity that is denied refugees by certain sections of media and society. Films and Faith is always interested in a conversation about the 'others' in society. With such a talented director at the helm I fully expect to enjoy this topical and relevant film.
The Other Side of Hope screens on Sunday 2 April at the QFT at 6:45pm. Tickets are available here.
Now for the self publicising part of this post......
Banterflix Live: BFF Special
After a successful live recording last year Banterflix is back atThe Hudson Bar!
Hosts Jim McClean and Neil Sedgewick (me) will be joined by special guests and local filmmakers as they look through the festival’s programme and chat about some of the movies they’ve watched this year.
One of my highlights from last year podcasting in front of a crowd was terrifying and lots of fun all at the same time. So we're back again.
It would be great to see some of you there so come and say hello. Tickets are free but you do have to book as the venue will only hold a certain amount of folk!
The Banterflix Live Podcast recording is on Saturday 8 April at 11am at The Hudson Bar and you can book tickets here.
Belfast/N. Ireland readers if you at the festival let me know what you see.
I hope you find good stories to laugh at, cry with and be challenged by.
For the full festival programme check out the Belfast Film Festival site!