Film Hub Fortnightly – November
This current period of lockdown is scheduled to come to end this Thursday, the 12th. Though given the unexpected nature of these restrictions, it remains to be seen if Northern Ireland’s cinemas will be able to reopen or not. If they will, there will be plenty of independent cinemagoing on offer in Belfast and, either way, plenty too online.
The Belfast Film Festival and Docs Ireland joint 2020 edition gets into gear on the 9th , beginning with the Docs Ireland strand, which will take place entirely online. Opening day events include Maternal Legacies, an experimental shorts programme curated by the Dublin based outfit AEMI, a short programme co-curated with DOCS Film Festival, a documentary festival located in Minsk, and Right Now I Want to Scream: Police and Army Killings in Rio – The Brazil-Haiti Connection (2020), directed by Cahal McLaughlin & Siobhán Wills. Also on the 9th, you can see The 8th (2020), a documentary on the campaign to remove Ireland’s band on abortion, a work-in-progress screening of Ceasefire Baby, which looks at the life of Lyra McKee, and, available until the 13th you can see The Stuart Hall Project (2013), about one of the key figures in Black British intellectual life.
On the 10th, the festival will show 76 Days (2020), which tracks the initial outbreak of the coronavirus, Henry Glassie – Field Work (2019), a portrait of an American folklorist, and a free talk on ‘The Emotional and Personal Risks of Documentary Filmmaking’. On the 11th, The Dakota Entrapment Tapes (2020), gives a look at a police cover-up in a small American town, while on the 12th, there will be an investigation of another kind, with a talk on the making of the PJ Harvey documentary A Dog Called Money (2019). The 13th will be another busy day, starting with The Sheriff (2020), which follows two elections in Maryland and North Carolina for the eponymous position, while Tomorrow is Saturday (2020) takes us closer to home with a portrait of the collage artist Sean Hillen. There will be another special work-in-progress screening with future feature film Fr Des – The People’s Priest, featuring Stephen Rea in a profile of the rebellious and socialist Father Des Wilson, who found himself in Belfast during The Troubles. While on the 14th there will be a screening of the festival’s short programme. The Docs Ireland strand will conclude on the 17th with This is Not a Movie (2020), a portrait of the late journalist Robert Fisk.
Though it starts with two online events; talks with Lesley Manville, on the 18th, and the critic and horror author Kim Newman, on the 19th, the Belfast Film Festival strand will, subject to condition, take place largely in real venues. Though the Skyway Club will be screening their film, Spin-Off (2020), on the 19th in a hybrid form, both online and at the Movie House – City Side. On the 20th, at the Odeon, you can see Black Medicine (2020), about a mob doctor faced with a crisis of conscience when she harbours a young girl, and then over at the Strand Arts Centre there will be a 35mm screening of the Martin Scorsese classic, Goodfellas (1990). The 21st will see another online event, a conversation with the veteran comedy creator John Lloyd. Then you can head into Belfast to the Lawrence Street Workshops to attend Cinema Sports, a team challenge where you can get the chance to make a movie in 12 hours. The Havelock House will play host to special event, The Occasional Man, qn installation following one man’s life and presented by Flax Art Studios with NI Screen. While over at the Strand Arts Centre, you can see Welcome to Northern Ireland (2020), about an expat’s eye-opening return home. On the 22nd, you can watch an online event covering the career of the director Edgar Wright and later see, at the Queen’s Film Theatre or on the QFT Player, Jallikattu (2020), a one-of-a-kind, madcap chase film about a village racing to take down a rampaging bull.
The festival will continue into the final week of November and so you can watch this space for future updates. Otherwise, there is more information about the festival schedule, booking and individual titles at the Belfast Film Festival website.
Another festival taking place online this year is Foyle Film Festival. Running from 20th - 29th Nov, the festival has some stand out highlights including Falling, Eternal Beauty, and much talked about new Irish feature Rose Plays Julie. With plenty of documentaries, and a strong music strand including Billie, My Darling Vivian, and Crock Of Gold: A Few Rounds With Shane MacGowan, the online programme is as strong as the festival's usual in person line up. As always, the festival is delighted to present the Oscar® and BAFTA affiliated Light In Motion (LIM) Short Film Competition, with the best in Irish and International short films and animations from around the world screening online throughout the festival. Full details on this, and the whole programme are here.
Meanwhile, you can also check the several new additions to the QFT Player. They include The Fight (2020), a documentary about the American Civil Liberties Union and their battles against Donald Trump. Ava (2017) is an Iranian drama about a young girl’s struggle against her repressive environment, while Spaceship Earth (2020) documents a strange experiment where 8 people spent 2 years sealed-off in quarantine. Two oddball films from the acclaimed French filmmaker Bruno Dumont have also been added, his comic biopic Joan of Arc (2019) and his sci-fi farce Coincoin and the Extra Humans (2019). The queer arts festival Outburst also have two titles, available from the 16th. Ask Any Buddy (2020), a kaleidoscopic collage of the history of gay adult cinema. and Keyboard Fantasies: The Beverly Glenn-Copeland Story (2019), a portrait of the electronic music pioneer.