Filmmaker Mark Cousins has been named as the new Chairperson of the Belfast Film Festival. Cousins, who is from Belfast, is an internationally acclaimed film director, writer, critic, and presenter.

A former director of the Edinburgh International Film Festival and a Honorary Professor of Film at the University of Glasgow, his eclectic works range from directing and narrating The Story of Film: An Odysseya 15 hour Channel 4 documentary film about the history of film; to presenting the TV series Scene by Scene where he interviewed filmmakers such as David Lynch and Martin Scorsese; to pulling a mobile cinema around Scotland with Tilda Swinton, travelling to places such as Loch Linnhe and the village of Strontian to screen films from around the world, choices typical of the Swinton-Cousins 8 1/2 foundation

Festival director Michele Devlin said of the appointment:

“We are really thrilled and excited to have Mark join us as the new chair of the Belfast Film Festival. His knowledge, expertise and standing within the international film industry will hugely benefit the Belfast Film Festival and help shine a light on the multitude of talent we have in our own burgeoning film industry here.

“This is especially exciting for us now, as we work towards our 18th Film Festival which is coming up in April.”

He launched his most recent book just before Christmas, The Story of Looking, which explores the history of the human gaze, touching on art, film, photography, science and technology.

In recent years Mark has written and directed docu-dramas such as The First Movie (2009), Life May Be (2014), I Am Belfast (2015), “a meditative tribute” to Belfast in which the city is personified by a 10,000 year-old woman, and Stockholm, My Love (2016) starring Neneh Cherry. Mark’s filmography has been nominated for various awards in Europe and the USA, winning the Stanley Kubrick Award at the Traverse City Film Festival in Northern Michigan, a Peabody Award, the Don Quixote Award at the Fribourg International Film Festival in Switzerland and prizes at the Real to Reel Film and Video Festival in North Carolina and Prix Italia.

Mark Cousins commented:

“I’m honoured to be asked to be Chair, alongside Brian Henry Martin as Co-Chair. I’ve been to scores of film festivals around the world; thanks to Michele Devlin and her team, ours is one of the boldest and most distinctive. 

“My passion for movies comes from my youth in Northern Ireland, from seeing movies at the Ritz, QFT and Curzon cinemas. I’d like to put some of that passion back into the Belfast Film Festival. Belfast citizens should treasure it.”