The Belfast Film Festival began life in 1995 as part of Féile an Phobail – a community arts organisation also known as the West Belfast Festival – and was established as an autonomous, city-wide event at the turn of the millennium.
The festival has been nurturing Belfast’s rapidly growing filmmaking scene for over twenty years, as well as creating unique film-watching experiences for audiences through its varied programme, which celebrates established and experimental work from around the world.
Transforming the city
As a signature part of its programme, Belfast Film Festival transforms unexpected spaces across the city into cinemas for its series of site-specific screenings. Previous editions of the festival have seen screenings of The Breakfast Club in a library, Cool Hand Luke in a 19th-century jail, Mad Max 2 in a former shipbuilding warehouse and Jaws in a swimming pool.
These special screenings not only intensify the film-watching experience, but also invite audience members to explore different corners of the city.
Championing excellence in film
The festival promotes excellence in cinema from Northern Ireland and internationally, and runs competitions to highlight some of the best work by established filmmakers and burgeoning talent alike.
The Maysles Brothers Award was launched in 2006 by American documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles and showcases exceptional new documentary works. The festival’s short film competition recognises the work of emerging filmmakers from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, providing a valuable and prestigious platform for new talent.
Education is also at the heart of the festival’s activity, and a host of community outreach projects aim to teach practical writing and filmmaking skills, as well as cultivate an interest in film culture among audiences for whom cinema has traditionally been less accessible.