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All the best: Susan Picken on her favourite things

By Kerry McKittrick

The 49-year-old is head both of the Queen's Film Theatre and the film hub of Northern Ireland. She lives in Holywood, Co Down.

My best moment

It was a few years ago when I found out that I had won a bursary to study for a Masters at the British Film Institute. It came after several attempts and really kick-started my career.

My best song

It’s Life On Mars by David Bowie. There’s something about that song and the emotions it makes me feel — it’s the perfect song.

My best advice

I have a couple of pieces of wisdom given to me by past colleagues. Someone did say to me that in a crisis you should allow yourself a couple of minutes to panic and then settle down to get on with it. I was also told once that there’s always an answer, always some kind of solution for every problem and that you just have to dig for it.

My best way to relax

Reading most of the time, but more recently, pottering around in the garden. I haven’t been much of a gardener but I moved house fairly recently and now have my own plot for the first time. I’ve become slightly obsessed with weeding now.

My best achievement

I tried to learn to drive when I was younger but I failed my test. Living in London for so long meant I never really needed to drive, so it wasn’t until I moved back to Northern Ireland that I tried. I took my test again last year — it’s a great leveller because everyone has to sit the same driving test. Even though it was on my to-do list for years, I only ticked it off last year.

My best job

I’ve been at the QFT for more than seven years now, and this has been a great job. I also worked at the National Film Theatre in London, managing events, and that was a fantastic job, too. I got to meet some great people and it was really rewarding.

My best gift

It was a surprise trip over Mount Etna while I was on holiday. I think memories are more important than things.

My best buy

I have a cheesy Seventies ornament — it’s a glass with a mouse in the bottom and a cat trying to climb in after it. I got it in Bristol years ago and it’s not practical at all, but I’ve managed to keep it in one piece and it makes me happy every time I look at it.

My best film

This is a really hard question for me and it can depend on what kind of mood I’m in. The film that I really love though is Neil Jordan’s The Company Of Wolves. It’s based on fairy stories and has a real fantastical element to it, and is quite dream-like. I saw it in my mid-teens and something about that film spoke to me. I think that’s what got me interested in film.

My best book

I’ll read everything from trashy novels to big thrillers. I really like Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations and it’s something I’ll go to periodically.

  • The QFT is Northern Ireland’s foremost independent film theatre showing the very best in new and classic cinema. For more details, go to

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