Congratulations to our very worthy award winners from this year’s festival who will shortly be receiving their engraved Belfast Crystal trophy or award certificate plus cash prize.

The Belfast Film Festival Audience Award was won by A Man Called Ove, the bittersweet Scandinavian comedy that was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Academy Award earlier this year.

The Maysles’ Brothers Competition, named in honour of legendary documentary filmmakers Albert and David Maysles, was won by Hidden Photos. Directed by Davide Grotta and produced by Emanuele Vernillo, Hidden Photos follows Kim Hak, a young and talented Cambodian photographer who looks for a new imagining of his country 40 years after the rise of the murderous Khmer Rouge regime and their infamous Year Zero.

The jury unanimously agreed that this should be the winning film.  They felt that this brave, mature film had a humanity to it that was deeply affecting, being able to describe past and present Cambodia, as well as the larger human world.  The film was able to take complex issues of history and genocide, and relate them cleverly to smaller and more personal details.

The Belfast Film Festival Shorts Competition for established and up-and-coming directors and writers was won by Incoming Call, written and directed by Eoin Cleland. Incoming Call tells the story of a girl who learns a little knowledge is a dangerous thing when she gets a phone call from her future self.

The competition was judged by Susan Picken (Head of QFT) Sarah Edge (Professor of Photography and Cultural Studies, Ulster University), Nicholas Keogh (Filmmaker) and Chris Martin (Producer).

They said: “Eoin has made an impactful short that is accessible and humorous whilst at the same time tackling some more serious issues around the impact of self-doubt on young people’s lives.”

Two more films were selected for special commendation – Dam, directed by Conan McIvor and written by Michael Daly, and Groundless, written and directed by Eimear Callaghan.

The judges said: “Both films we felt explored challenging issues, sensitively showing great potential for the writers and directors to further examine important social issues.”

Two films, Martin and Raymond, were joint winners of our first ever Short Documentary Competition, supported by DoubleBand Films.

Festival Director Michele Devlin said:

“In previous years, many interesting and diverse Irish non-fiction shorts have screened as part of our annual Shorts programme. This year we wanted to separate and showcase the best of these films made on this island over the previous year. Often caught between places to screen, a short non-fiction film has far less opportunities to be seen in a cinema environment, especially if made independently, and we wanted to address that.”

Dermot Lavery and Michael Hewitt, DoubleBand Films, said:

“Selecting the winners of the Belfast Film Festival Short documentary competition was a difficult task, such was the high quality of the films we viewed. Eventually, however, we narrowed our choice down to two films – but then felt we could do no more. The most appropriate action was to make these two films the joint winners.

Martin, directed by Donal Moloney and Raymond, by film-maker David Stephenson, are both beautifully filmed and intense portraits. In bringing us into the world of an elderly and somewhat isolated Irish farmer, Raymond is a powerful reflection on loss and death. Martin, delivers an equally powerful insight into the daily life of one homeless man in Dublin and a wonderful meditation on the nature of happiness. We were deeply impressed by the way in which each film-maker intimately, yet respectfully, portrayed his subject.”