Belfast Telegraph

This weekend will be picture perfect for me

By Frances Burscough

We are spoilt rotten in Belfast, do you realise that?

If you don’t, then you really need to get out more. For example, this weekend we are in the middle of the 11th annual Belfast Film Festival.

And before you say, “Ooh but all that arty film-noir stuff isn’t my cup of tea ...”, let me give you a few examples of what you will be missing ...

For the biker fanatic: Closer to the Edge — a documentary film about the Isle of Man TT Race with special effects shot in (wait for it) amazing 3D.

For the dog lover: My Dog Tulip — an animated film with a stellar cast, about an ageing intellectual who adopts a German Shepherd and discovers a love of dogs.

For the insomniac gore-lover: The Horror All-Nighter at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast including four blood-thirsty slasher flicks.

For the nostalgic ageing hippy: Dougal and the Blue Cat — a feature film from the 1970s about the psychedelic shenanigans of the characters from the Magic Roundabout.

For the closet (or completely in-your-face) drag-queen: You Were Here, about the devastating impact of Aids on the San Francisco gay community of artistes and performers.

For the wannabe gangsta rapper: All Ears, a documentary about the urban hip-hop music scene and gang-banger turf war in California’s West Side.

For the morbidly funereal: Faire — an in-depth look at the traditions of the Irish wake.

For the oldies: big screen presentations of some ageing classics such as The Quiet Man at the Waterfront Hall; Rio Bravo at the Strand; Gentlemen Prefer Blondes at the Merchant Hotel’s Roof Garden; Whisky Galore on the Lagan Belfast Barge and Moby Dick at the Sinclair Seaman’s Church.

For the funsters: a number of special one-off interactive film events with an emphasis on getting dressed up and acting daft including Once Upon a Time in Casablanca where the Harlem Cafe on Bedford Street is being transformed into a 1940s gin joint complete with “Sam” on the piano and period-costumed waitresses. And then there’s Biosuite: Emotional Response Cinema, where the audience are wired up to heart and nerve monitors and then shown some of the scariest Cronenberg movies of all time.

There are very few events that cost more than a bottle of plonk or a takeaway pizza.

Heck, as a self-employed single mum I’m not exactly rolling in it but by the time you read this I will have sampled as many of the shows as I possibly can.

However it is highly unlikely that any of the above will have come near giving me the personal pleasure I felt at the opening night of the Festival and the red-carpet world-premiere of a film made in —and starring — our very own dearly-beloved Co Down. The Shore, directed by the multi Oscar-nominated Belfast screenwriter Terry George, tells the captivating story of the bond between two best friends whose lives went separate ways during the height of the Troubles.

Belfast’s Ciaran Hinds took a break from his usual Hollywood blockbusters to star as Jim Mahon who returns after 20 years in exile in USA to show his American daughter his roots.

I won’t tell you any more, for fear of spoiling the story, but believe me it is absolutely sublime. Never before in cinema has our wee country looked so wonderfully welcoming, but the real star is the location itself ... where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea.

Terry George, the fantastic local cast, Northern Ireland Screen and Tourism Ireland who co-funded the film ought to be justifiably proud of this delightful cinematic treasure.

And the great news is that after unprecedented demand, it’s getting two extra showings tonight at QFT so if you hurry you might just be in with a chance of seeing it.

Next up: The Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival begins in two weeks’ time. Once again I feel it is my duty to keep you informed, so watch this space ...

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