It’s an evening festival this year, with lunchtime events banished to weekends. As usual lots of events catch my eye:
Pope Benedict: Bond Villain by Abie Philbin Bowman // Saturday 5 May at 8pm // The Assembly Rooms // £7 // I’m a big fan of Abie Philbin Bowman’s comedy, having caught his Guantanamo show in London a few years ago. Behind his themes and jokes are hard-hitting challenges to public perceptions and norms about important issues.
Homebird // Sunday 6 May, 5pm and 8pm // The Dark Horse // £6 // The 1948 story of Maire de Baroid’s family emigration to California leaving her behind in Cork, told through the “evocative sounds of voice, guitar, Irish harp and fiddle”. An aural treat.
Oscar Niemeyer: A Vida é um sopro (Life is a brief moment) // Tuesday 8 May at 6pm // The Dark Horse // £4 // A film about the great architect Oscar Niemeyer whose “buildings tend towards the formal and monumental, sometimes at odds with his socialist principles”. Followed by a panel discussion. You can’t beat a good architectural film!
Simon Hoggart // Tuesday 8 May at 8pm // The Black Box // £8 // Reading from “his compendium of anecdotes from his life in journalism”, parliamentary sketch writer Simon Hoggart will let you into the secret of what he’s witnessed over the years.
Glenn Patterson: The Mill for Grinding Old People Young // Tuesday 8 May at 8pm // The Assembly Rooms // £8 // The local author will read from his new novel telling the story of Gilbert Rice (born 1812), working beneath the shadow of Harland & Wolff and dealing with the impact of his love affair with Maria, a Polish barmaid.
Michael Smiley – Immigrant! // Thursday 10 May at 8pm // The Assembly Rooms // £8 // Michael Smiley tells his comic story of leaving Belfast for London and moving from a “homeless, jobless, futureless young man” to life as a actor and comedian.
Mark Thomas – Extreme Rambling // Thursday 10 May at 8pm // The Black Box //
Vyvienne Long + Our Krypton Son // Thursday 10 May at 8pm // McHughs Basement // £6 // A classically-trained cellist and critically acclaimed songwriter.
Tracey Moberly: Text Me Up // Friday 11 May at 7.30pm // Free, but book // The Assembly Rooms // Artist Tracey Moberly saved the 90,000 text messages she received since 1999 and has created a “breakneck biography” with them together with a contextual commentary on the amassed missives. A travelogue illustrated with texts and photographs.
Kids’ Noisy Cinema: The Red Balloon // Saturday 12 May at 1pm // Belfast Barge // £4 // A percussion workshop followed by a screening of the timeless children’s classic The Red Balloon in which “a young boy discovers a balloon which seems to have a life of its own and together they go on an adventure through Paris”. Suitable for children aged between 7 and 11 years old, it’s a humorous story about friendship and love, without dialogue. Attending children will add their own soundtrack using props and percussion.
Hackney Colliery Band // Saturday 12 May at 8pm // The Black Box // £8 // “Bringing the tradition of mobile marching bands firmly into the 21st century” with funk, hip hop, ska and contemporary jazz played by an all-acoustic brass ensemble.
Also running throughout CQAF is The Open Source, a performance and workshop space in an otherwise empty Art Deco building in Belfast. Sinclair House – coincidently just opposite the Occupy Belfast People's Bank building – will feature a programme of “art, design, dance, music, gaming, coding, or any other creative pursuit” people are passionate about.