During this year’s Berlinale, CWB’s James Ulmer and Tanja Meding caught up with Cian Smyth, programmer of the MAYSLES BROTHER DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION at the BELFAST FILM FESTIVAL, to learn a little more about this festival.
Founded in 1995 as the West Belfast Community Festival, the festival grew rapidly over 5 years and became a city-wide event in 2000. This coming edition in 2010 will mark the 10th anniversary of the Belfast Film Festival.
As Smyth recalls, from the very beginning the festival has been committed to programming films that address important socio-policital themes and bringing the community together to debate and discuss these.
The festival has focused on a number of themes, including reconciliation efforts, gender issues, sexual identity, human rights, racism, and societies in transition—all issues that provide lots of food-for-thought and dialogue.
Adding to its success and growth, in 2006 the festival introduced the MAYSLES BROTHERS DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION in honor of the two innovative US documentary filmmakers David and Albert Maysles. Programmed and produced by Smyth, this section is now in its 5th year and continues to grow in importance and attention.
Previous Maysles Brothers Award winners were:
2006 SISTERS IN LAW by Kim Longinotto
2007 NOMADAK TX by Raul de la Fuente
2008 END OF THE RAINBOW by Robert Nugent
2009 PRESUMED GUILTY by Roberto Hernandez
For the 10th anniversary of the festival, the deadline for submissions has just been extended until January 16, 2010. So if you have a feature, a documentary or a short film you would like the festival to consider, please visit www.belfastfilmfestival.org