Friday, April 12, 2019

Belfast Film Festival – featuring the absurd, challenging, deadpan, dystopian, surprising, local and international (11-20 April) #bff19

Belfast Film Festival offers ten days of cinematic treats in venues across the city. Tucked into the hundred-page programme are 90 features and 80 short films that cover every genre, every continent, and many, many gems that you’d normally struggle to see on a screen – large or small – in Belfast.

This years festival is host to award-winning international director Aamir Khan, with four of his films being screened in the Movie House Dublin Road at 6pm between Friday 12 and Monday 15.

Some other picks from the programme.

Friday 12

Another Day of Life is the story of an idealistic journalist, somewhat lost and alone, who went to Angola as a reporter to tell the story about the civil war and advent of independence, but came back a writer aware of how journalism limited his expression. Based on the eponymous book by Ryszard Kapuściński. Queen’s Film Theatre at 7.30pm. [reviewed]

Saturday 13

Looking through the eyes of a Barista serving coffee from a kiosk in the centre of Belfast to his customers: office workers, pensioners, people who are homeless, historians and poets. Neal Hughes uses time lapse to create a unique view of street life in The Kiosk which was shot over two summers. Movie House Dublin Road at 6pm.

Sunday 14

Ronald and Regina are the only surviving circus artists in the aftermath of ‘the Situation’. Bathroom is a feature length dystopian sci-fi, lo-fi circus comedy shot in a real bathroom in East Belfast. Movie House Dublin Road at 2pm.

I’m a sucker for Bill Nighy’s always caring, always deadpan, often aloof on-screen personas. Sometimes Always Never is being screened in the QFT at 6pm, with Nighy playing a Scrabble-obsessed Merseyside tailor searching for his son who stormed out of the house years ago after a heated round of the board game: a family with a surfeit of words yet they struggle to communicate.

Daniel Jewesbury’s new film Necropolis asks questions about the living and the cities in which they live by exploring our attitudes to death after decades of dispossession and privatisation in this film essay shot entirely in cemeteries, graveyards and burial grounds in Belfast, Berlin and London. Strand Arts Centre at 6.15pm.

Monday 15

Bed Sitting Room. Featuring Dudley Moore, Peter Cook and Spike Milligan, this 1969 film is adapted from Milligan’s eponymous play with John Antrobus set in a desolate landscape of ruin and ash in a dystopian England three years after nuclear war. Does this absurdist comedy of social collapse have more resonance with audiences in these times of Brexit than it had when it was first released? Beanbag Cinema at 7pm.

Film Devour Short Film Festival will serve up another smorgasbord of local shorts in front of fellow filmmakers and the paying public. The variety and quality is always surprising. The Black Box at 7pm.

Thunder Road, an award-winning and awkwardly-engaging character study of a police officer whose escalating struggles can be suppressed no more as he stands up to deliver the eulogy at his mother’s funeral. A dark yet authentic look at how some people process grief through by writer/director/star Jim Cummings. QFT at 9pm.

Tuesday 16

Woman at War is the follow-up to Icelandic director Benedikt Erlingsson’s hit Of Horses and Men. He combines music, comedy and social justice to tell the story of a warm-hearted choir leader living in the Icelandic highlands with a secret life as a hardcore environmental activist. QFT at 6.30pm (also showing Monday 15 at 4pm).

Wednesday 17

Don’t think heavy metal gets the attention it deserves. Heavy Trip watches what happens when an amateur metal band – Impaled Rektum – pull out all the stops for one last chance to make it into the big time at a huge festival. QFT at 6.30pm.

Eighth Grade is the suburban adolescent story of the insecurities and absurdities of being a 13-year old girl navigating the last week of middle school with a phone in hand looking for online connections to displace the empty everyday life. Movie House Dublin Road at 7pm.

Twenty years since its release, experience a 4K screening of this science fiction classic The Matrix in a venue – the QUB Sonic Arts Research Centre with its 48-speaker truly surround sound array – which can do justice with the Dolby Atmos soundtrack and the added dimension of height channels. SARC at 7.30pm. SOLD OUT

Looking at the world of corporate exploitation, worker solidarity and gender politics through the lens of a day in the life of a nurturing manager who protects the all-female staff in a US ‘sports bar with curves’. Support the Girls in QFT at 9pm.

Relaxer. Can no-hoper Abbie meet his brother’s challenge of playing the perfect game of Pac-Man and completing the fabled level 256. The year is 1999 and this absurd quest echoes the theme of survival in anticipation of Y2K. Beanbag Cinema at 9pm.

Thursday 18

Two brothers plot to murder their stepfather to thwart an unexpected change to their dying mother’s will that will block their inheritance. But can the siblings bear to spend a whole day together to execute their plan? Tragic comedy Brothers’ Nest is screened in the QFT at 9.30pm.

Saturday 20

Nine years after watching Rem Koolhaas – a Kind of Architect, I’m nearly ready for another documentary about the legendary architect and provocateur. Rem Hoolkaas in the Strand Arts Centre at 4pm.

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