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Oscar Winning Cinematographer Joins Belfast Lineup
13 Apr 2010 :
Haskell Wexler
Two-time Academy Award winning cinematographer Haskell Wexler (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Bound for Glory and Medium Cool) is set to attend the 2010 Belfast Film Festival. IFTN speaks to the festival’s director, Michele Devlin about what to expect from the Hollywood craftsman and the festival’s ‘Northern Exposure’ industry event.

The writer, director and cinematographer Haskell Wexler has been presented with Oscars for his work on both ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’ in 1966 and ‘Bound for Glory’ in 1976, as well as working on some of the most radical styles of film-making to come out of the US, such as on John Cassavettes’ ‘Faces’. He is a late addition to the line-up at the 10th Annual Belfast Film Festival, something that Belfast Film Festival director, Michele Devlin is very proud about. “He is a very revered and respected cinematographer,” she tells IFTN, “so we are delighted to welcome him.”

Haskell boasts an impressive CV having shot, written and directed over 60 features and more than 100 documentaries during his career. One of the best known of these is the 1968 cult film ‘Medium Cool’ which Haskell wrote, directed and shot. The film follows a TV news camera man who finds himself becoming personally involved in the Violence which erupts around the 1968 Democratic Convention. Michele tells us that Haskell was tear gassed himself at the convention while filming scenes for the feature.

The Belfast Film Festival will be screening ‘Medium Cool’ in Culturlann Falls Road in Belfast on Monday, April 19th at 7pm. The screening will provide a rare opportunity to see the film on the big screen again and to hear Wexler speak of his experiences during a public interview and Q&A session hosted by Joe Lindsay after the film. Michele Devlin tells IFTN that Haskell’s active participation at this year’s festival is a happy twist of fate, “It’s one of those lucky coincidences,“ she explains, “he is actually going to be filming in Donegal with an Irish born filmmaker called Kevin McKiernan at the same time as the festival. And obviously, when we heard that we jumped at the opportunity.”

Another noteworthy event being hosted by the Belfast Film Festival and Northern Ireland Screen is ‘Northern Exposure – Deal Closure’ - a series of panel discussions and talks that will examine how, with the creative talent and profile of the Northern Ireland sector at an all-time high, an increasing numbers of aspiring film-makers, writers and producers needing to know about the “business of film”. Michele explains the reasons behind the event: “I think people often find that workshops like this are very spread out normally – all over Ireland, or even over in London so the rationale behind Northern Exposure was to make the industry accessible to local people. We went to London and met up with a whole range of people and now we’re bringing them over. So now Northern Ireland filmmakers will have access to industry business figures who would not have been accessible to them normally.”

The Belfast Film Festival and Northern Ireland Screen have partnered to host a two-day seminar and have brought in key sales agents, distributors, producers and literary and talent agents, for a series of four industry-focused panel sessions and discussion groups. The confirmed panelists include BAFTA nominee Tony Grisoni (writer, ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’), Mike Goodridge (editor of Trade magazine), Robin Gutch (producer, ‘Warp X’), Hilary Davis (Bankside Films), Julia Short (Verve Pictures), Stephen Murphy (Optimum Releasing), Mike Runagall (Pathé International), John Fletcher (Pathé Distribution), Nick Marston (Curtis Brown Agency) together with representatives from Future Shorts and Shorts International.

The panel sessions have been split into four titles ‘What does the market want?’; ‘Understanding the business of film’; ‘Working with agents’ and ‘Selling yourself short’. “I think certainly when a film is made here there tends to be a bit of a gap, filmmakers say “So what do we do now?” which is what inspired the content of the four panel discussions,” explains Michele. “Also, we’ll have film makers across many levels who need varying levels of information and we’ll also have people who just want to come to network. And they will all be catered for.” Over 100 people have already signed up for the event and more information about which can be found at www.belfastfilmfestival.org/2010/programme/categories/43

The 10th Annual Belfast Film Festival will run from Thursday, April 15th until Friday, April 30th. For more general information about the festival visit www.belfastfilmfestival.org

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