Foyle Film Festival 2009

Art and cinema explored in the festival's 22nd year. Listen to an interview with festival director Bernie McLaughlin

The Foyle Film Festival returns to venues across Derry from November 20-28, celebrating the marriage between art and cinema, with classic art house movie The Red Shoes taking centre-stage.

What Martin Scorcese described as 'the best art film ever made', The Red Shoes is about the intense and competitive world of ballet, and is widely acknowledged as the perfect example of cinema as an artistic medium.

Other films to be screened as part of the festival that touch on the theme of art and cinema are Factory Girl, a film about artist Andy Warhol's part-time muse and original It girl Edie Sedgwick, starring Sienna Miller, and the documentary The Great Contemporary Art Bubble, which follows art critic Ben Lewis as he explores the current international art market, from its heady peak to its inevitable crash.

'This is a really exciting year for the Foyle Film Festival, and a good time to engage with this unique cultural event if you have not done so in the past,' comments festival director and programmer, Bernie McLaughlin. 'The festival is now in its 22nd year, and this year we have BAFTA and Oscar-nominated filmmakers coming to Derry to talk about all aspects of filmmaking.'

There are, as ever, various strands running throughout the festival, including screenings, workshops, educational activities and the Light In Motion Awards, which will see filmmakers fight it out to win accolades for Best International Short, Best Irish Short, Best Animation and Best Documentary. Winners of LIM Awards can submit their film for Oscar consideration. This year the festival has also been granted BAFTA affiliation, enabling short films to be submitted for the BAFTA Short Film Award.

Workshops at the festival include pitching skills and how to break into the film industry with Elliot Grove. Local girl Orla O'Connor returns to the city to deliver a casting masterclass, while acclaimed director Kenny Glenaan will give a director's workshop.

The festival is renowned for showcasing the best in international and challenging cinema, and this year is no exception: the opening night film is the Northern Ireland Premiere of The Boys Are Back, starring Clive Owen, while the closing night film is this year's foreign language Oscar winner Departures, the highest grossing Japanese film of all time.

Local talent has not been neglected, with award winning director Tom Collins' documentary The Boys Of Saint Columb's screening in competition this year. The festival will also screen award-winning director Desmond Bell's documentary MacGill:Tachran gan Todhchai (Child of The Dead End), and a special 20th anniversary 35mm print screening of Hush-A-Bye-Baby with introduction and an audience with acclaimed filmmaker Margo Harkin.

During recent months, the festival's main Nerve Centre venue, including the cinema, has been refurbished, with new seating, curtains, screen, sound system and lighting, as well as an induction loop system to improve access for hard of hearing audiences. Another welcome addition this year is the newly built Creative Learning Centre cinema. Both cinemas feature the latest Blu-ray technology and surround-sound systems.

Check out the Foyle Film Festival website for information on all this year's events.