Filmmaker Mairead McClean pictured with Ana Matronic of Scissor Sisters fame, was recently awarded the prestigious Ulster Bank MAC International arts prize – Ireland’s largest open arts prize.

Belfast Film Festival selected my first 16mm film ‘Movements Recollected’ to run as a short before Pasolini’s film Uccellacci e Uccellini (HAWKS AND SPARROWS) in 1999. It was such a buzz to be part of the festival then and to screen at the old QFT where I had spent a year working as an usherette some 15 years previously while on my foundation course at the then Art College in York Street. Again in 2003 they selected ‘Way Past’ a film I directed and filmed with local people in and from the village I come from in Co.Tyrone. Living in London, and traveling around other film festivals abroad, I have heard many filmmakers talk about the Belfast Film Festival with enthusiasm and surprise that a relatively small city can have a film festival that is so inclusive of the local and so expansive in its vision. This festival is a vital part of, not just the city of Belfast, but the life of Northern Ireland. Your support is needed now.  Mairead McClean

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