7 December 2023 The Irish Film & Television Network
Northern Ireland-shot Ballywalter to world premiere and open Belfast Film Festival
06 Oct 2022 : News Desk
The world premiere of the homegrown drama Ballywalter, starring Patrick Kielty in his first feature-film acting role, has been selected as the opening film for the 22nd Belfast Film Festival (BFF), which kicks off on 3 November and runs until 12 November.

In Ballywalter, Kielty plays a man doing a weekly stand-up comedy course, who develops a touching friendship with a down-on-her-luck taxi driver (Seana Kerslake). The film was written by Belfast actor, writer, and director Stacey Gregg, who’s critically acclaimed first feature, Here Before, premiered at last year’s festival.

Ballywalter is said to be just one of the many cinematic gems that promise to delight audiences at this year’s BFF, which launches its 2022 programme today at the Crescent Arts Centre.

New programming team Jessica Kiang and Rose Baker have curated a full and exciting programme of premieres and gala screenings, panel talks, and special events, which showcase the wealth of local talent and shine a spotlight on the best up-and-coming international talent.

This year’s festival also sees the launch of new awards, which will be presented by a jury of international filmmakers and industry professionals, including BAFTA and Academy-Award-winning auteur Andrea Arnold. In the International Feature Competition, directors of first or second features will compete to win a prize fund of £10,000. 

£7,000 will be awarded to the Best Film director, alongside Jury Prizes of £1,500 each for Outstanding Craft Contribution and Breakout Performance.

In the spirit of cross-border collaboration, the festival will close with a joint Irish Premiere with the Cork Film Festival of the highly anticipated Aftersun starring Paul Mescal, which has been generating significant buzz since its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in May. The film is a poignant father-daughter drama set in Turkey in the late 1990s, from writer and director by Charlotte Wells.

BFF will introduce 19 new critically acclaimed feature films to Northern Ireland audiences, including: Local filmmaker Tony Devlin’s first feature horror film, world première of The Quarry; She Said, the facts-based story of New York Times journalists Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor, who wrote the article which ignited the #MeToo movement; No Bears, from imprisoned Iranian director Jafar Panahi and won the Special Jury Prize at the 2022 Venice International Film Festival (VFF); Irish premiere of Academy-award-winning documentarian Laura Poitras’, All the Beauty and The Bloodshed follows artist and activist Nan Goldin in her fight to bring down the Sackler family, who have been blamed for causing the opioid crisis. The film was awarded the Golden Lion for best film at VFF 2022; and Tori et Lokita, Joyland and EO won the 75th Anniversary Prize, Un Certain Regard Jury Prize, and the Festival Jury Prize, respectively, at the Cannes International Film Festival in May.

In addition to screenings of feature films and shorts, the BFF lineup includes several special events: ‘Vox Populi’: An installation of UTV archive film at the iconic former Bank of Ireland building; ‘The Weird and the Eerie’: An audio-visual, hauntological experiment which delves into the Northern Irish televisual archive of the last century and brings back the stranger and more macabre elements of life in the six counties. Belfast’s own Vendetta Suite will provide musical accompaniment; ‘The Secret Life of a Film Critic’: A celebration of Brian Henry Martin’s 30-year career; A celebration of the 40th anniversary of Channel 4 in association with Queen’s University, Belfast; and A Douglas Sirk Retrospective showcasing three of the filmmaker’s most celebrated works.

The inaugural Belfast XR Festival will also be part of this year’s BFF on Wednesday, 9 November. The one-day event will showcase the best local and international immersive technology content for expanded reality that inspires storytelling. 

Director or Belfast Film Festival, Michelle Devlin said: “The appointment of our new programming duo has brought a dynamic and fresh energy to the festival, and I have no doubt we will inspire new audiences with this year’s incredibly diverse line-up.”

“New places and new technology, internationalism and indigenous talent are the cornerstones of the 22nd Belfast Film Festival. We honour the past with our Vox Populi screenings in the historic Bank of Ireland site of the planned new “Belfast Stories” screen centre on Royal Avenue; and we embrace the future in the spacious, shiny new auditoriums of Cineworld at the Odyssey. Re-energized and excited, we invite audiences to join us on a cinematic journey around the world this November.”

Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Screen, Richard Williams added: “The festival’s continued expansion and ability to attract world-class filmmaking talent has mirrored the explosion of activity in our local film and TV industry in Northern Ireland in recent years. The team at the Belfast Film Festival has put together a superb programme of events, and Northern Ireland Screen is very pleased to be able to support the festival this year.”

The entire 22nd Belfast Film Festival Programme can be viewed from 11 am on 6 October at https://belfastfilmfestival.org/whats-on.

Festival Passes and Tickets can be purchased at www.belfastfilmfestival.org.

IFTN Festive Q&A with actor Albrecht Schuch
IFTN Festive Q&A with director Luke McManus
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