Foyle Film Festival launches 35th programme with Northern Ireland Disney premiere

Foyle Film Festival launches 35th programme with Northern Ireland Disney premiere

Foyle Film Festival invites you on a cinematic journey as we celebrate its 35th year and a decade-long partnership with Brunswick Moviebowl.

Opening the festival this year is the eagerly awaited Northern Ireland Premiere of Strange World, the latest family spectacular from Walt Disney Animation Studios. Strange World follows the legendary family of explorers, the Clades, as they attempt to navigate an uncharted, treacherous land, alongside a motley crew including a mischievous blob, a three-legged dog and a slew of ravenous creatures.

The closing night gala is equally as impressive with the NI Premiere of Searchlight Pictures’ Empire of Light from Academy Award®-winning director Sam Mendes. Starring Olivia Colman, Michael Ward and Colin Firth, it’s set in an English seaside town in the early 1980s. Empire of Light is a powerful and poignant story about human connection and the magic of cinema. We thank Walt Disney Motion Pictures Ireland for supporting Foyle Film Festival with two such fine titles for this year’s edition.

Empire of Light
(c) Searchlight Pictures

The festival’s Oscar® and BAFTA affiliated Light In Motion (LIM) Short Film Competition will showcase the best films from around the world with a total of 68 films in contention for Best International Short Film, Best Irish Short Film and Best Animated Short Film. Recipients of the LIM Awards qualify for consideration in the Live Action and Animated Short Film categories of the Academy Awards® without needing the standard theatrical run.

Highlights include films from Derry writer and director Colm Herron with I Know You, Belfast directing/producing duo Gavin Kelly and Lisa Service for The Search, IFTA-nominated director Mia Mullarkey’s Safe as Houses, and Derry Girls actor Louisa Harland in Noah directed by Emma Louise Williamson. 2022 also marks a Foyle Film Festival debut for director Sinead O’Loughlin whose short film Lamb is enjoying a successful festival run so far with appearances at Galway Film Fleadh, Tribeca and Rhode Island film festivals.

For all those horror lovers we’ll be showing films as part of In Dreams Are Monsters: A Season of Horror Films, supported by the National Lottery and BFI Film Audience Network. Nia DaCosta’s Candyman (2021) is followed by a discussion on the women that have defined the genre of horror as a cultural institution, scholarly discipline and site of pleasure, curated and presented by Dr. Victoria McCollum, Ulster University and Director Aislinn Clarke, co-editors of Bloody Women: Women Directors of Horror (2022 University Press). While Nightmare on Elm Street will take the form of an immersive screening experience and a slasher style slumber party brought to you by In your Space Circus.

Nightmare on Elm Street
Nightmare on Elm Street

As part of our Industry Event offer, BFI Film Academy Lab will host In Conversation with Declan Lawn and Adam Patterson, writing duo behind the critically acclaimed BBC drama The Salisbury Poisonings, and Julie Harkin Casting, Derry-born BIFA-nominated casting director.

Festival favourites Cinematic Breakfasts and Dementia Friendly Screens return with some all-time classics — and this year we welcome our first collaboration with Foyle Foodbank — offering a series of Foodbank Screens supporting the local community, the public are encouraged to donate much-needed items to the foodbank instead of the usual ticket fee.

For music lovers, we see the return of the ever-popular Festival Club with gigs from local legends Littlehooks, country pop sensation Lisa McHugh and Belfast-based Arborist (whose songs also feature on the Special Event screening of Open Asylum which will be screened before the gig). A debut feature of Derry filmmaker Colm Villa, Open Asylum is set against the background of late 70s/early 80s Northern Ireland and portrays the final days in the life of 24 year-old metal worker Tom Bradley, a man frustrated by circumstance. Last screened in 1983, this 2K restoration of the film was supported by Northern Ireland Screen’s Digital Film Archive and was completed in 2022. Villa will introduce the film on the evening.

Lisa McHugh
Lisa McHugh

Other special events include the Northern Ireland premiere of In the Name of Gerry Conlon, winner of the audience award at this year’s Biografilm Festival. This is award-winning photojournalist and director Lorenzo Moscia’s profile of Gerry Conlon — a member of the Guildford four imprisoned for fifteen years after being wrongfully convicted for an IRA bombing (with Introduction by Paul O Connor from Pat Finucane Centre).

In collaboration with Bloody Sunday Trust, Foyle Film Festival also presents a screening of Sean Murray’s short film, My Name is Joseph followed by a screening of Ken Fero’s feature documentary Ultraviolence, all commemorating the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday.

Films will be screened at both Nerve Centre and Brunswick Moviebowl with prices ranging from £4 to £7.

See full programme of events via

Foyle Film Festival is led by Nerve Centre.
Funded by: Department for Communities through Northern Ireland Screen and Derry City & Strabane District Council.
Venue Partner: Brunswick Moviebowl.
Awards Sponsor: City of Derry Crystal.
Industry Partner: Screenskills, BFI Film Academy, National Lottery and Ulster University.
Food Partner: Sandwich Co. and Mekong.