Homemade Highlights You Have to See at Foyle Film Festival

Littered throughout a packed programme in Derry this year is a feast of Irish cinema from modern classics to new works by fresh filmmaking talents

The 31st Foyle Film Festival gets underway in Derry~Londonderry this week. For ten days, from Friday November 16 through to Sunday November 25, the city's Brunswick Moviebowl and Nerve Centre will be packed to the brim with screenings of over one hundred national and international films. 

Premieres, short films, animated films, features, documentaries and more will be interspersed with industry workshops and Q&As with leading filmmakers. And amidst all these are a series of homemade highlights showcasing some of the best filmmaking on the island of Ireland...

THE EYES OF ORSON WELLES

'Dear Orson Welles. You left no autobiography… but you left something else.'

The brainchild and project of Ballymena-raised Mark Cousins, The Eyes Of Orson Welles offers alternative and unique insights into the legendary Citizen Kane director as both filmmaker and man, highlighting the landscapes and delving into the sketches which drove and inspired his personal life, his politics and the ground-breaking visuals in his films. Executive produced by Michael Moore, this 'wonderful portrait' of Welles (Jeremy Aspinall, Radio Times) can be seen at the Nerve Centre Cinema on Saturday November 17 at 1pm. Book here.

THE LONELY BATTLE OF THOMAS REID

Pivotal to Feargal Ward’s documentary is the titular farmer, who doesn’t want to sell his land for 'any price, no matter what offer' despite Intel’s desire to build a manufacturing facility there. His 'lonely battle' is to retain the warm insularity of his inherited, generational community against the persistent threat of the expansive corporation. It's an intriguing spin on 'the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one' with a man single-minded enough to fight against the 'if you can’t fight them, join them' mentality. The 'beautifully made and important documentary' (Jason Coyle, Scannain) can be seen at the Nerve Centre Cinema on Thursday November 22 at 8pm. Book here.

AFTER '68 & MAZE

'You do realise if you escape, you won’t be able to go home... ever.'

-- Maze

A pair of films by Dubliner Stephen Burke, one short, one long, After '68 and Maze respectively revolve around a 1960s Derry~Londonderry-based civil rights march and the true story of a 1983 prison break. Seeking to unify history and genre filmmaking in exploring local identity within and without isolation, these engrossing and potentially enlightening works can be seen together on Monday November 19 at 8pm in the Nerve Centre Cinema. Book here.

SIOBHAN - FREE SCREENING

A free screening at the Nerve Centre cinema on Saturday November 24 at 7.45pm, Maeve Murphy's Siobhan is about how deeply one can be affected, for better or worse, by the lingering spirit of a prematurely departed loved one. Quietly creepy, yet painfully truthful, this psychologically resonant and disturbing short film gently and tastefully highlights the fine line between heartbreak and madness, illustrating the consequences that can reverberate from instances of both in the company of others. More details here.

UNDER THE CLOCK - FREE SCREENING

Clery’s Clock, the iconic Dublin landmark which once spawned a Radiators song, is key to the award-winning Snackbox Films’ latest production, a nostalgic peek into the Fair City’s past from the eyes of those ordinary people who were lucky enough to fall in love under the titular O’Connell Street timepiece.

Directed by Colm Nicell, this 26 minute long collection of memories offers 'a socio-sexual history of Ireland over the last half-century' (Donald Clarke, The Irish Times) and can be seen at the Nerve Centre Cinema on Saturday November 24 at 8pm. More details here.

I, DOLOURS

An efficiently produced and constructed history lesson from the point-of-view of a key agent in the Troubles, Ed Moloney’s 'powerful, honest and disturbing' (Suzanne Breen, Belfast Telegraph) I, Dolours focuses on one of the first female leaders of the IRA, the late Dolours Price, and her passage from civil rights activist, to conflicted bomber, to peace process sceptic.

In highlighting the dangers of concrete adherence to a cause from a dedicated, idealistic point-of-view, Moloney’s work, constructed around his lengthy interview with Price, promises to both chill and enthral viewers. The festival screening, on Sunday November 18 at 2pm in the Nerve Centre, will be introduced by Moloney himself and feature a post-show discussion. Book here.

NO STONE UNTURNED

Praised for being 'scrupulously even-handed' (Wendy Ide, The Guardian), Alex 'Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room' Gibney’s No Stone Unturned is about justice promised but not yet found, in this case for the families of those killed in the Loughinisland Massacre of 1994, during Ireland’s World Cup clash with Italy. 

Every question asked by the victims’ loved ones has yet to receive a concrete answer – and it is this open wound which drives the subjects and the thrust of Gibney’s documentary. In distinctly unveiling a web of corruption and deception, Gibney has crafted a shocking and revelatory work – which can be seen on Sunday November 18 at 7pm in the Nerve Centre Cinema.

The screening will feature an introduction and post-screening discussion from Barry McCaffrey and producer Trevor Birney. Book here.

On November 24-25, the Foyle Film Festival will host a series of lectures, workshops and screenings dedicated to Anim18 as part of the year long celebration of talent in animation taking place across the UK, Anim 18.

Highlights include the Northern Irish Animation Retrospective, on November 24 at 5 pm in the Nerve Centre, which will feature two hours of ground-breaking animation from several locally-based animators. These will include Joel Simon's Macropolis and the IFTA-winning Horn Please OK, Corrina Askin’s The Big Picture, Glen Marshall’s The Nest That Sailed The Sky, Stephen McCollum’s Pulling The Devil By The Tail and John McCloskey’s BAFTA-nominated The Crumblegiant.

On Sunday November 25, at 11.30am, the Nerve Centre will host the Northen Ireland Screen Foundation Academy for Animation Workshops, where up to thirty-five young people will have the opportunity to learn either the principles of two-dimensional animation from John McCloskey and Deirdre Gribbin, or stop-motion techniques from Joel Simon, in the choice of two hands-on animation workshops.

Nerve Centre will also screen a series of animated shorts on the theme of War And Conflict: Ireland - The King's Wake, Flipsides, and Guns, Bees And Tadpoles - at 10am on the Sunday.

Read more on the Anim18 programme here.

HUNGER - 10TH ANNIVERSARY SCREENING

The film that put Michael Fassbender on the map, Steve McQueen’s debut intensely portrays the final days of Bobby Sands in the midst of the 1981 Hunger Strike at Maze Prison. Hailed as 'one of the greatest debuts in the history of British cinema' (Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian), the production is notable for Fassbender’s outstanding performance and for its fair portrayal of the British officers as they deal with being traumatically threatened on a daily basis. Hunger will be screened in the Nerve Centre Cinema on Sunday November 18 at 5pm. Book here.

Foyle Film Festival runs from Friday November 16 to Sunday November 25. For more information visit www.foylefilmfestival.org.