Belfast Telegraph

The Belfast Film Festival

According to the team behind this year's Belfast Film Festival, people in Northern Ireland like nothing more than a good scare.

By that they mean the horror movie type of scare, of course, and they have lined up plenty to be giving audiences the chills as part of this year's festival.

Among the highlights so far have been a Horror All-nighter at the Waterfront Hall and forthcoming screenings of The Wickerman and a David Cronenberg double-bill.

"We've introduced a few new sections this year, one of which is called Altered States, which takes in fantasy, horror and martial arts," says festival programmer Stephen Hackett.

"People in Northern Ireland like a bit of scary cinema, and horror and sci-fi always go down well."

The programme is one of the most wide-ranging in recent years, with a healthy smattering of TV-based showings - including an early glimpse of Belfast actor Ciaran Hinds in a BBC drama - as well as the usual special events and screenings themed to particular locations, such as Moby Dick in Sinclair Seaman's Church.

Other classics include the Marilyn Monroe gem Gentlemen Prefer Blondes on the roof of the Merchant Hotel, as well as John Wayne in The Quiet Man.

And there will be a new twist on the programme this weekend, with Kabosh Theatre Company's new play Raiders of the Lost Story Arc, which tells the story of how the classic Indiana Jones film came into being.

"We have tried to evolve the programme to keep it fresh. But we always have our focus on certain things like documentaries and social issues," Stephen said.

And at a time when many arts organisations are tightening the reins due to budget cuts, the festival is once again counting on the support from its core followers.

"The response to the programme has been great and we are hoping that it is going to be even better than last year," adds Stephen.

For festival patron Terry George, whose new film The Shore has been screened as part of the programme, the festival is a key component of Northern Ireland's cultural output.

"It is a tribute to Northern Ireland that the programme contains so much content with local resonance," he said.

"The festival's contribution to the cultural and economic life of the region cannot be underestimated."

MATTHEW McCREARY

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