Belfast Film Festival Summer Programme

Two-month series of screenings promises to transform sites across the city with magical movie experiences, whatever the weather

From outdoor picnic screenings to a Georgian mansion and a splendid Victorian hall, Belfast Film Festival promises a summer of unique and unforgettable experiences in parks and buildings throughout the city.

Lower Crescent Park, Belfast City Council’s open space near Botanic Avenue, is the site for a movie marathon with eight films over the weekend of August 6 and 7. Bring your own picnic and seating (rugs or camping chairs) and enjoy a classic on the big screen in this picturesque public space flanked by some of Belfast’s finest Georgian architecture.

Experience the romances and adventures of all-singing, all-dancing high school kids in Grease. Sing-a-long to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s cinematic treasure, The Sound of Music. Fall in love with dance instructor Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing. And find out how a very ordinary man is mistaken for the promised messiah in Monty Python’s Life of Brian.

Belfast Film Festival, in partnership with Film Hub NI and BFI Film Audience Network, is taking part in BFI Shakespeare on Film – a spectacular UK-wide series of screenings and events celebrating the enormous impact the playwright’s life, work and legacy has had on cinema.

Franco Zeffirelli's 1968 Romeo and Juliet.jpg

Franco Zeffirelli’s acclaimed adaptation of Shakespeare’s timeless love story, Romeo and Juliet, was nominated for the Best Picture Academy Award in 1967. When the now famous 'star-crossed lovers' of two enemy families meet, forbidden love ensues.

Orson Welles is at the height of his both his acting and directorial powers while reveling in the poetic force of Falstaff’s weakness in Chimes at Midnight. Kenneth Branagh’s love for the material is contagious in his exuberant adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing, a spirited, winningly acted rendition of one of the Bard’s most popular comedies.

And Kiss Me Kate is a lush MGM musical in glorious Technicolor starring Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson. Inspired by The Taming of the Shrew, Cole Porter adds the songs to Shakespeare’s witty words about a pair of feuding divorced actors who must share the stage in a new Broadway-bound musical.

Belfast Film Festival Director Michele Devlin said: 'Based on the last few weeks, we’re hedging our bets with what the weather will do in Belfast and have planned a two-month summer bonanza both outside and indoors.

Malone House at Shaw's Bridge provides the backdrop to Sense and Sensibility.jpg

'Lower Crescent Park is a great location for our movie weekend in August with plenty of choice for food and drink in the Botanic and University areas before or after the screenings. And we also have events throughout the city, including Cathedral Quarter, Titanic Quarter and East Belfast.

'Belfast Film Festival's now well-established and very popular annual summer programme is expected to attract audiences of around 5,000, helping to make the city an attractive destination for residents and tourists.'

The grounds of Malone House, a late Georgian mansion which dates from the 1820s, provides the perfect backdrop for an outdoor screening of Sense and Sensibility (August 21). Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Kate Winslet and Hugh Grant star in this captivating romantic comedy based on Jane Austen’s classic novel.

If you prefer not to tempt fate with Belfast’s summer weather, there are plenty of indoor events to suit every film lover. Celebrate the horror and the hilarity of the Prom with Tina Fey’s brilliantly smart satire Mean Girls at the Black Box (August 13).

Formerly home-schooled Cady (Lindsay Lohan) gets dropped into the sneaky, vicious world of the Plastics, three adolescent glamour-girls who dominate their public high school’s social hierarchy. There will be classic prom movie clips before the main feature and everyone is invited to dress up in their favourite prom costumes, with cocktails and prizes available for the most plastic fantastic attire of the night.

And if you just can’t get enough of mean girl Amanda Seyfried, you should return to the Black Box the following evening (August 14) when she becomes all sweetness and light in Mamma Mia! The delirious sight of Meryl Streep leading a river of multigenerational women in singing 'Dancing Queen' is one of the high points of the musical built around the songs of the hugely successful pop group ABBA.

Prepare to sing-a-long at this, or the equally harmonious Pitch Perfect. The 2008 comedy starring Rebel Wilson and Anna Kendrick will be hitting the high notes at the Grand Opera House on September 4.

The beautiful Victorian central hall of Campbell College boarding school will conjure up associations of Hogwarts and the world of Harry Potter. The Great Hall of Christchurch College was the inspiration for Hogwarts and Campbell College has a very similar feel. Dressing up is encouraged with prizes for the best costume at this special screening of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (August 27) in association with Campbell College and Into Film.

View the full summer programme at www.belfastfilmfestival.org.