Belfast Film Festival – Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Albania, Maze/Long Kesh and Belfast

The annual Belfast Film Festival starts tonight and runs for 10 days showing 121 films. I’ve blogged elsewhere about some of the festival highlights. There’s certainly plenty of local and international films to challenge, entertain or even offend.

I thought I’d bring some of the international/conflict/political films to the attention of Slugger readers.

noirland-666x375Sunday 30 March at 21:00 – Noirland – Dublin Road Moviehouse – Northern Ireland’s first crime anthology from writer/director Philip Henry. Three stories following one man who wants “to see the guilty punished, because secrets never stay buried in Noirland”.

Monday 31 March 18:45 – We Were There – Dublin Road Moviehouse – How the Maze/Long Kesh impacted on women’s lives, through absence from family as well as intervention by educational and welfare staff. Recorded in 2007 inside the empty prison, stories told by a prison officer’s wife, inmates’ relatives, Open University tutors, Probation Service staff and a visual artist. Followed by a Q&A with participants and the filmmakers.

sleepless-nights-666x375Wednesday 2 April 14:00 – Sleepless Nights – QFT – Exposing the concept of clemency without justice in the Lebanon as a mask that protects the perpetrators and leaves survivors with festering wounds. A moving documentary about reconciliation and justice bring together a guilt-ridden former Lebanese Forces intelligence officer with a mother who is still searching for her communist fighter son who disappeared in 1982. The war ended in 1991 with an amnesty for political crimes. But what is the legacy from that decision?

Thursday 3 April 18:45 – Border – QFT – A powerful account of contemporary Syria as two sisters learn that a member of their family has decided to desert the Syrian Army and join the Free Army embarking on a hazardous journey to Turkey.

Thursday 3 April 19:00 – I am Belfast: Fragments of a work in progress – QFT – A talk by cinematic flâneur Mark Cousins and composer David Holmes on the making of their new film and the process of writing the music as the film is shot. Will include the first screening of 10-15 minutes of the film.

votes-for-women1-666x375Thursday 3 April 19:30 – Votes for Women – Culturlann – The story of how Irish women obtained the vote in spite of every main political party in Ireland and Britain opposing women’s suffrage in the lead up to the First World War. But women along with a minority of socialist men rose up and eventually secured the vote for over 30s in 1918. Another aspect to the decade of centenaries.

Thursday 3 April 21:00 – Here Be Dragons – QFT – Old cartographers used to label unexplored areas of maps with the legend “Here Be Dragons”. In this film essay, Mark Cousins explores the political, cultural and cinematic landscape of Albania.

Friday 4 April 19:30 – Breaking Ground – BFF Microcinema, 23 Donegall Street – A 63 minute documentary about the work of the London Irish Women’s Centre from its opening in 1983 to its closure in 2012.

seipideh-reaching-for-the-stars-666x375Saturday 5 April 14:30 – Sepideh Reaching For The Stars – QFT – Inspired by Anousheh Ansari, the first Iranian in space, teenage Sepideh lugs her enormous telescope into the countryside to study the heavens. This “unladylike behaviour” isn’t appreciated by everyone in her family. Her passion is to pursue a university education; yet suitors come knocking on the door. Breath-taking constellations together with life-changing moments in Sepideh’s life.

Saturday 5 April 19:00 – The Human Scale – BFF Microcinema, 23 Donegall Street – The proportion of the world’s population living in urban areas is estimated to rise from 50% to 80% by 2050. Danish architect Jan Gehl argues that we need to build cities that take into account human needs for inclusion and intimacy rather than continuing to create cities that repel human interaction. This film asks what would happen if we put people at the centre of our planning.

And finally … a short local film that despite its absurdity is bound to make a political point or two!

busby-furball-666x375Saturday 29 March 18:00 – Busby Furball – QFT – when I looked at the image accompanying the write-up in the Belfast Film Festival programme I knew this had to be a Factotum production. (Their film Ditching is one of my favourite pieces of local cinema.) Three hairy Busbys – Offal, Giblet and Polyp – live on an isolated peninsula. Mind control, oversized fungi, giving birth to a large, intelligent hairy slug, a brain portal and some mind control. 28 minutes of cinema I’m really looking forward to.