Film Fortnightly – July
Poetry, stardom and identity explored on-line in the first part of July from FHNI members.
Since lockdown has begun to ease, you can see the first signs that public, social life is being restored, and yet Northern Ireland's cinemas and film clubs remain closed, as theatrical exhibition, both on a local and a global scale, learns to grapple with the logistics of social distancing. It means that movie going, for now, will continue to be an almost exclusively at home and online affair. Some new titles on QFT Player will help tide things over though.
Programmed in collaboration with feminist film organisation Bird's Eye View and their series #ReclaimTheFrame, Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart (2017) is a feature length documentary about the life of Lorraine Hansberry, the visionary author of A Raisin in the Sun. The film will cover her work and it's ideas but also her struggles as an African American woman facing up against segregation in both the theatre and the outside world. Available till 7th July.
Also available to purchase on the player is Grace and Goliath (2018), a family friendly drama about a Hollywood star and a fish out of water in Belfast. This is not only a local production but the second feature from Cinemagic, a mainstay of this column.
There are also several new and interesting additions to the player's free collection.
For one day only on Friday 10th July, Paul Duane's While You Live, Shine (2018) will screen free of charge. While You Live, Shine is the story of how an American record collector's obsession with the oldest music in Western Europe changed his life, and was first shown in Belfast by Belfast Film Festival.
The Seamus Heaney Centre are back with a thirty minute presentation of their annual Seamus Heaney First Collection Poetry Prize, a £5,000 award eligible for poets whose debut collection was published in UK or Ireland in 2019. The show consist of readings from the shortlisted work and features several guests, including the head of this year's judge’s panel, the acclaimed author Nick Laird.
You can watch another Seamus Heaney Centre production with their short virtual pamphlet, made up of various poets' responses to the Changing Views exhibition at the Ulster Museum. The exhibition sought to highlight the 'artist as traveller' whose purpose is to 'educate, agitate and inspire'.
This could also apply to a pair of new short films added to the free collection. This Land (2020) is a documentary that analyses modern Ireland's relationship to race, immigration and what does it mean to be Irish with interviews that feature a wide range of activists and artisans. While Mental Abuse Matters (2020) uses animation to illustrate the disorientation and trauma of living under mental abuse. The film comes with an accompanying article written by its director Lucy Baxter.
Both these short films are being shown as part of Film Feels Connected, a UK wide virtual cinema season designed to help audiences connect with cinemas, festivals and societies offering new events, seasons and screenings online during lockdown. Film Feels is managed by Film Hub Midlands on behalf of the BFI Film Audience Network, powered by National Lottery funding.