Our special guest for this year’s festival was Ken Loach, one of the greatest filmmakers in the world. He received the Réalta Award for Outstanding Contribution to Cinema to a standing ovation in the sold out Movie House, Dublin Road.

Ken Loach is a British film and television director, and the UK’s foremost political filmmaker. Amongst his critically acclaimed films are Poor Cow, Kes, The Wind That Shakes the Barley and I, Daniel Blake.

Given his lifelong commitment to challenging the political status quo in film, television drama and documentary, it’s hardly surprising that much of Ken Loach’s work has proved highly controversial. Over the course of nearly half a century his uncompromising approach has seen him in conflict with the BBC, various ITV companies, Channel 4, the British Board of Film Classification, the Central Office of Information, several critics and columnists and even the Save the Children Fund.

The atmosphere in Belfast was electric as Ken went from venue to venue to take part in Q&A’s. Ken started off in St Mary’s where he was interviewed by Eilish Rooney as part of 30 Years of Féile an Phobail before heading to the Movie House Dublin Road to take part in a sold out, public Q&A. Ken talked about his career in film with Hugh Odling Smee and received the Réalta award for Outstanding Contribution to Cinema. Ken finished off his day by travelling to the Queen’s Film Theatre to take part in another sold out Q&A following his screening of his Palme d’Or winning film, The Wind That Shakes the Barley.