And we’re off! Belfast Film Festival is underway with a movie marathon of 118 premieres in a programme of 178 films ranging from features to short films to Virtual Reality (VR) – with titles drawn from 30 countries around the world!

Opening the 18th Belfast Film Festival was Black 47, a gripping drama about Ireland in 1847 in the midst of the Great Famine. Feeney, a hardened Irish Ranger who has been fighting for the British Army abroad, abandons his post to return home and re-unite with his estranged family.

This sold out screening was attended by writer and director Lance Daly, and a plethora of filmmakers including Mark Cousins, Andy Tohill, Paul Kennedy, Tony Devlin and BAFTA winner Brian Faulkner.

Filmed around Ireland in Wicklow, Connemara and Kildare, the film features Irish talent, Stephen Rea, Barry Keoghan, Moe Dunford and Sarah Greene, and other familiar talents such as Hugo Weaving, James Frecheville, Freddie Fox and Jim Broadbent.  After sustained thunderous applause, Lance Daly took to the stage for a post screening Q&A hosted by BBC Radio 4’s Peter Curran.

Elsewhere in Belfast we had packed out crowds for CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap in the Black Box and a sold out screening of The Anniversary, starring the festival’s leading lady Bette Davis, in our very own Beanbag Cinema, Still Tomorrow and a 30th Anniversary Screening of Animal House in the Strand Arts Centre.