HOMEGROWN drama Ballywalter will open the 2022 Belfast Film Festival (BFF) next week.
Running until November 12, the 22nd BFF kicks off on November 3 with a premiere screening for the Prasanna Puwanarajah-directed drama which stars Co Down comedian Patrick Kielty in his first feature-film acting role.
Ballywalter finds Kielty playing a budding stand-up comedian who develops a friendship with a down-on-her-luck taxi driver, played by Seana Kerslake. The film was written by Belfast actor, writer and director Stacey Gregg, whose critically acclaimed first feature Here Before premiered at last year's festival.
The festival's new programming team, Jessica Kiang and Rose Baker, have curated a programme of premieres and gala screenings, panel talks and special events showcasing local and international film-making talents.
This year's festival also sees the launch of the International Feature Competition in which directors of first or second features will compete to win a prize fund of £10,000. £7,000 will be awarded to the Best Film director, alongside Jury Prizes of £1,500 each for Outstanding Craft Contribution and Breakout Performance.
The awards will be presented by a jury of international film-makers and industry professionals, including Bafta and Academy-Award-winner Andrea Arnold, who will also be 'in conversation' with film-maker Lisa Barros D'Sa (Good Vibrations, Ordinary Love) during the festival.
Festival director Michele Devlin says: "The appointment of our new programming duo has brought a dynamic and fresh energy to the festival, and I have no doubt we will inspire new audiences with this year's incredibly diverse line-up.
"New places and new technology, internationalism and indigenous talent are the cornerstones of the 22nd Belfast Film Festival. We honour the past with our Vox Populi screenings in the historic Bank of Ireland site of the planned new Belfast Stories screen centre on Royal Avenue, and we embrace the future in the spacious, shiny new auditoriums of Cineworld at the Odyssey.
"Re-energised and excited, we invite audiences to join us on a cinematic journey around the world this November."
BFF 2022 will introduce 19 new feature films to Belfast audiences including the world premiere of local film-maker Tony Devlin's first feature film The Quarry, a found footage horror/thriller, and She Said, the factually inspired story of the New York Times journalists, Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor, who wrote the article which ignited the #MeToo movement.
No Bears, from imprisoned Iranian director Jafar Panahi, won the Special Jury Prize at the 2022 Venice International Film Festival, Academy Award-winning documentarian Laura Poitras' All The Beauty and The Bloodshed follows Nan Goldin in her fight to bring down the Sackler family who have been blamed for causing the US opioid crisis, while Tori et Lokita, Joyland and EO won the 75th Anniversary Prize, Un Certain Regard Jury Prize and the Festival Jury Prize, respectively, at Cannes.
The festival will close with a joint Irish Premiere of Aftersun in conjunction with the Cork Film Festival. This poignant father-daughter drama written and directed by Charlotte Wells and starring Paul Mescal (Normal People) premiered at the Cannes International Film Festival in May.
BFF 2022 also features several special events including Vox Populi, an installation of UTV archive film at the former Bank of Ireland building in Belfast city centre, and The Weird and The Eerie, which delves into Northern Ireland's televisual archive to celebrate the stranger and macabre with musical accompaniment from Vendetta Suite.
The Secret Life of a Film Critic celebrates local film journalist Brian Henry Martin's 30-year career, there will be a celebration of the 40th anniversary of Channel 4 and the Douglas Sirk Retrospective will showcase three of the film-maker's most celebrated works.
The inaugural Belfast XR Festival will also take place during BFF on November 9. This one-day event will showcase the best local and international immersive technology-enhanced audio visual content by bringing together 10 projects from a variety of different countries.
Chief executive of Northern Ireland Screen, Richard Williams said: "The festival's continued expansion and ability to attract world-class film-making talent has mirrored the explosion of activity in our local film and TV industry in Northern Ireland in recent years.
"The team at the Belfast Film Festival has put together a superb programme of events, and Northern Ireland Screen is very pleased to be able to support the festival this year."
:: View the whole festival programme now at belfastfilmfestival.org/whats-on.