Whether it was rowing the Camino, cycling the Giro, reflecting on ‘the Troubles’ or getting better acquainted with Orson Welles, we are delighted to say Belfast Says Yes! to Pull Focus.  16 documentaries, 9 premieres, 16 guest filmmakers and 2000 citizens gathered, watched and where enthralled by the stories and their creators.

Northern Ireland’s first ever dedicated documentary festival – was an extravaganza of sold out screenings, talks, special guests and great films.

There was great excitement when Mark Cousins announced he would be assisted by none other than Beatrice Welles (daughter of Orson Welles) to introduce his new film The Eyes Of Orson Welles at the Strand Cinema. In a risky move, placing total faith in the technology, he rang her live in front of a packed auditorium, a delighted Beatrice chatted to the Belfast audience from her chair in the hairdressers in L.A.!!  She revealed that she had been to Belfast before, and in fact was on stage alongside her father for the premiere of Chimes At Midnight in 1960.

Cousins’ film provided a different insight into the life and creativity of Orson Welles by delving into a previously unopened box of paintings and sketches. An entertaining and insightful Q&A followed, hosted by filmmaker and critic, Brian Henry Martin.

The old Curzon cinema site on Ormeau Road was the location for the screening of The Curzon Project. This short documentary tells the story of the Curzon cinema which ran on Belfast’s Ormeau Road from 1936 until 1999. The Gaston family (former owners), projectionists, usherettes, composer David Holmes and other former customers feature. Alongside rare archive footage, the history of the cinema and its place in the community over 6 decades is examined by director Jonathan Beer. Clanmil Housing Association facilitated the screening in the courtyard of the new Curzon Apartments.

The world premiere of Unquiet Graves, a feature-length documentary about the Glenanne Gang – thought to be responsible for more than 120 killings in an area of Mid Ulster once dubbed the ‘murder triangle’.  Many families of victims of the gang attended the screening which was followed by an excellent Q&A hosted by academic Phil Scraton (Hillsborough: The Truth) who spoke with Sean Murray (director) and Alan Brecknell whose father was murdered by the Glenanne Gang in front of a 7 year old Alan.  Anne Cadwallader, whose book Lethal Allies provided the basis of the research for the documentary was also in attendance.

Delighted documentary fans that the festival was received so enthusiastically. Here is some feedback we received from our audience members.

What a powerful, emotional and important film #unquietgraves is – well done to @sean_murray1for making this amazing work and to #pullfocusand @BelfastFilmFes1for showing it.

It’s Orson’s daughter on the phone! Fantastic screening of ⁦@markcousinsfilm⁩ new film in East Belfast. Congrats to Belfast Film festival

Not sure the rain is going to hold off but great to be at pictures in the Curzon courtyard. Great initiative by @BelfastFilmFes1& @kaffeobelfast

Really enjoyed this (The Lonely Battle of Thomas Reid) & so many other great home grown docs @BelfastFilmFes1#pullfocus Bearing witness, reflecting on who we are/were & what we’ve lived through.

Beautiful film last night @BelfastFilmFes1 The Camino Voyage #rowing the Camino from Ireland 5 inspiring men.

Donal Foreman turns the lens back on his estranged film-maker father in #PullFocus @BelfastFilmFes1 opener The Image You Missed, a fascinating Troubles meta-doc and personal cine-essay. ★★★★

Just back from ‘I, Dolours’ as part of ‪@BelfastFilmFes1‪#PullFocusBoth film & Q&A w. ‪@mosweeney1‪@williamcrawley‪@edmoloney48raised interesting questions about the ethics of storytelling,role of memory in truth/reconciliation + crafting a docudrama from oral history archives.

Excellent Q&A with Ed Maloney and Maurice Sweeney following the @BelfastFilmFes1screening of I, Dolours.

Just back from seeing Wonderful Losers. Really excellent documentary both in content and cinematography. Kinda makes you want to go and live life like Svein Tuft! Excellent choice @BelfastFilmFes1

If you get the chance to see Wonderful Losers, do. It’s an incredible film about life for the domestique. Featuring the magnificent Svein Tuft. #cycling #Giro #BelfastFilmFestival

Saw ‘While you live, Shine’ @BelfastFilmFes1this afternoon. A film about an odd man’s obsession with musical purity. Very intriguing indeed. Thanks BFF for bringing these films our way. #Pullfocus

‘Each of us felt more welcomed and at home there than we have at any of the other festivals we’ve attended so far so thanks for your warm welcome and for bringing our film to wider audiences.’ Dónal Ó Céilleachair (Director of The Camino Voyage)


For highlights throughout the Pull Focus festival check out some of our other new stories:

Opening Night of Pull Focus Documentary Festival: The Image You Missed.

Premieres! Filmmakers! Docs!

NI Premiere of The Camino Voyage

I, Dolours