Now in its 16th edition, the Belfast Film Festival opens its doors for 10 days from 14-23 April this year, sounding the starting gun with a screening of Mustang. The story of five sisters growing up within an oppressive community in remote Turkey, this debut film by Turkish-French director Deniz Gamze Ergüven has garnered sustained acclaim since its premiere at Cannes in 2015. It opens Belfast a month before going on general release around the UK.
Offering a total of 133 films from 30 countries, the festival is now bigger than it’s ever been, with documentaries, world cinema, TV drama and shorts all jostling for your attention. Highlights this year include Miguel Gomes’s six-hour fantasia Arabian Nights, Pablo Trapero’s deliriously entertaining true-crime saga The Clan, and the Oscar-nominated Columbian adventure Embrace of the Serpent. There’s also an early chance to see Don Cheadle play Miles Davis is the much touted new biopic Miles Ahead.
There are hot new British previews of Esther May Campbell’s Light Years and Omer Fast’s Remainder, each backed by the BFI Film Fund, as well as a mini-retrospective of the work of Terence Davies to celebrate an onstage appearance from the great director himself. That means an opportunity to see classics such as Distant Voices Still Lives (1988) and The Long Day Closes (1992) on the big screen.
Other special events include a yacht-rock disco evening screening of Cocktail (1988), outings for both Sunrise (1927) and Donnie Darko (2001) with live soundtracks, and a whole dress-up evening dedicated to Blade Runner (1982).
Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant co-star in the festival’s finale film on 23 April. Florence Foster Jenkins is a period comedy drama from veteran director Stephen Frears about a 1920s heiress who pursues her dream of becoming an opera singer.
For full programme details, see the Belfast Film Festival website.