By MATTHEW LAW
The always hotly anticipated Belfast Film Festival is nearly upon us. Between the 11th and 21st of April, film fans will be out in their droves to view the delectable assortment of cinematic treats that BFF have on show this year. Showcasing 26 feature films, 19 documentaries, 52 shorts, and countless other workshops, lectures, showcases, and special events, the BFF truly is one of the highlights of the year in Belfast. With so much to see and do however, here at The Gown we thought we would give you a helping hand, and tell you what we feel are the top ten events to pay a visit to.
10 – Digital Arts Studio
“Digital Arts Studios” will be a presentation by three artists/filmmakers who will introduce their own work, and provide insightful and thought provoking insights into the world of digital video in film. These three, Phil Hession, Ben Jones, and Derville Quigley, have been involved in such well known films such as The Village (2013), Hiccup (2009), and The Funeral (2011), and their presentation is not to be missed.
Director Janusz Mrozowski’s prison documentary follows two weeks in the incarcerated life of Damian, a 28 year old being held in the “dangerous” section of a Polish high security prison. The documentary tackles his thoughts, his fears, and his regrets, while also providing an insight into the prison system itself, and also into Damian’s battle to live and survive in complete isolation. Mrozowski will be present for the screening.
8 – The Iceman
Based on the true story of hitman Richard Kuklinshi, Ariel Vromen directs this mafia thriller about deception, murder, and loyalty in the world of a man who everyone just thinks is the average dad down the street, when, in actuality, he is a ruthless killer for the Gambino crime family. Sporting a marvellous cast that includes Michael Shannon, Ray Liotta, and Winona Ryder, The Iceman is definitely one to check out.
7 – A Hijacking
Tobias Lindholm’s fear driven thriller shows the horrors, the chaos, and the emotional turmoil taking place on a cargo ship hijacked by Somali pirates. The film takes suspense to a whole new level, as it poses the question of how much a human life is truly worth, while also giving a harrowing insight into the world of modern day pirates and their campaigns of barbarism and careless violence.
6 – Purge
The Finnish film, based on the 2008 Sofi Oksanen novel of the same name, portrays the stories of Aliide and Zara, two women with tragic and horrific tales. Aliide’s is of loss and fear, emanating from her ghastly upbringing during the Soviet occupation of Estonia. Zara’s, of redemption and sorrow, due to her escape from her previous life as a trafficked sex worker.
Mark Kermode, film critic and member of the BritishAcademy of Film and Television Arts, comes to the BFF to rant, discuss, and debate with Brian Henry Martin about all things film. From Kermode’s personal favourites, to his preferred genres, and even who in the industry gets him hot under the collar, no stone will be unturned in this unmissable interview.
4 – Short Film Days
At the BFF, visiting one of the short film days is a must. They have been consistently fantastic over the years, and 2013 is set to be no different. This year, the BFF is treating us to 52 quality shorts over two days through three separate programmes. So, get down to at least one, if not all three, because you never know, you could be about to witness the first screened short of a future Oscar winning director.
3 – Made in Belfast
This star-studded picture is truly causing hype in the run-up to this year’s festival. Starring acclaimed Irish actors Stuart Graham (Hunger) Lalor Ruddy (Grabbers), Shauna MacDonald (The Descent), and Bronagh Gallagher (Pulp Fiction), Made in Belfast tells the story of Jack, a successful novelist who put success before loyalty and friendship. When Jack must go home from France to Northern Ireland for a weekend, he decides to set things right, and seek forgiveness from those who he has angered and betrayed.
2 – Una Noche
Receiving critical acclaim at Berlin and Tribeca, Una Noche tells the story of Raul and Elio: two Cuban youths who get caught up in a day of turmoil after Raul is accused of assaulting a tourist. A film about two boys’ desires for freedom, but also their fear of abandonment, in a world of poverty, inequality, and rife social tension, this stunning drama presents a beautiful, tense, and gripping tale that is definitely one of this year’s BFF highlights.
Nominated for Best Documentary at the 85th Academy Awards, The Gatekeepers is a film that delves into the world of Israeli counter-terrorism programmes: a world filled with intrigue, secrecy, and controversy. The film brings together interviews with ex- Israeli intelligence personnel, and previously unreleased archival footage, to create one of the most talked about documentaries of recent years.