Northern Ireland’s only Oscar-affiliated film festival is showing no signs of slowing down as it launches a ten-day anniversary programme of premieres, exclusive screenings and special guest events, running from November 17 to 26.
The Foyle Film Festival will showcase more than 100 films, including 55 feature films as well as 70 shorts from some 23 countries, in three main venues across Derry~Londonderry - Nerve Centre, Brunswick Moviebowl and The Guildhall.
Veteran actor Richard E. Grant is among the special guests helping to mark the milestone year. He will introduce a special screening of the cult-classic Withnail and I and take part in a Q&A charting his 30-year career working with the likes of Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola and most recently Lena Dunham.
Academy Award-winning director Jim Sheridan will also be in attendance for the ‘From Shorts to Features’ industry event for filmmakers. Sheridan is undoubtedly Ireland's greatest director, with three acclaimed films - The Field, In the Name of the Father and My Left Foot, receiving 13 Academy Award nominations between them. The latter will screen in Brunswick on Friday 24 November, introduced by the acclaimed director himself.
Also taking part in ‘From Shorts to Features’ conference is the four-times Oscar® winning studio behind Wallace and Gromit, Shaun the Sheep, Creature Comforts, and Chicken Run, Aardman Animation.
Derry’s own Nobel Laureate, John Hume, will be celebrated with a special screening of In the Name of Peace: John Hume in America in The Guildhall on Sunday 26 November. Maurice Fitzpatrick’s documentary will be brought back to Derry following a hugely successful tour of the US film festival circuit.
Narrated by Liam Neeson it examines Hume’s key role in the peace process. It includes interviews with former US Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter as well as former British Prime Ministers Tony Blair and John Major.
Maurice Fitzpatrick will introduce the film and join a panel discussion after the screening with Professor Paul Arthur, Dr John McLoughlin, journalist/ broadcaster Póilín Ní Chiaráin and journalist Susan McKay.
Stephen Rea and Judith Roddy will join the festival in paying tribute to the late Sam Shepard with a screening of Days Of Heaven followed by exclusive readings of his short stories. The iconic actor, playwright and director was a special guest of the festival in 2013 when he spent five weeks in Derry during the City of Culture celebrations.
Fresh from the London Film Festival, Emma Stone and Steve Carell’s latest film Battle of the Sexes will officially open the festival. It explores the true story of the famous tennis match between women’s world champion Billie Jean King and ex–men’s champion Bobby Riggs. The event became one of the most popular televised sports events of all time.
The Closing Night film, The Man Who Invented Christmas, starring Downtown Abbey’s Dan Stevens as Charles Dickens, recounts how the famous author created his iconic Christmas Carol and features British cinema stalwarts Christopher Plummer and Jonathan Pryce in central roles.
Celebrating the best of homegrown and international talent, the festival’s Light In Motion competition offers an exciting programme of short films and animations. The 2017 winners will be announced on the Closing Night at Brunswick Moviebowl.
The festival’s family movie this year is The Star, a magical seasonal animation about a brave donkey named Bo and his friends who become accidental heroes in the greatest story ever told – the first Christmas. Families will also enjoy screenings of Toy Story 3, The Snowman and Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.
Speaking at the launch of the programme Bernie McLaughlin, Foyle Film Festival director, said: 'Foyle Film Festival has been one of the great highlights in Derry’s cultural calendar since 1987 and we’re showing no signs of slowing down.
'Our anniversary programme is a real celebration of the best of local, regional and international cinema, offering audiences the chance to enjoy films that wouldn’t otherwise be available on the silver screen in Derry.
'It covers an incredibly broad range of work to ensure there is always something for everyone – from critically acclaimed documentaries to captivating new short films. Audiences are guaranteed that they will be challenged and entertained in equal measure.
Many of the events and screenings are already selling out so we’re encouraging people to book early to avoid disappointment'.
The festival’s programme also extends to the Nerve Visual Gallery in Ebrington, which will host a Film Makers Exhibition from November 14 to January 2018. Six contemporary makers, Sharon Adams, Sheena Devitt, Alison Fitzgerald, Nicola Gates, Ronan Lowery and Peter Surginor, were invited to produce new work in response to historic footage from the Northern Ireland Screen Digital Film Archive.
The exhibition, which is part of the Reimagine, Remake, Replay project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund's Kick the Dust programme, will be accompanied by free digital workshops aimed at teenagers throughout November.
Foyle Film Festival is funded by the Department for Communities through Northern Ireland Screen and by Derry City and Strabane District Council. Venue partner is Brunswick Moviebowl.
For programme and booking information visit www.foylefilmfestival.org or call the festival box office on 028 7126 0562.