Foyle Film Festival 2021


21 Oct 2021


The 34th Foyle Film Festival launches with the uplifting NI Premiere of Clifford: The Big Red Dog - the story of young Emily whose life both at home and at school is unhappy. Then an animal rescuer gives her a cute red puppy, Clifford, who quickly grows into a supersized dog in response to the amount of love he receives from Emily. This magical story demonstrates the truism that we get back what we give out to the world.

As usual the FFF programme is an eclectic mix of features, foreign language and documentary films with special guest introductions and Q&As.

Art & Fashion inspire and innovate, and this year’s festival includes a magical mix of both. Frida. Viva La Vida follows the life and career of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Kahlo was a promising student with ambitions to be a doctor. But childhood polio and a devastating bus crash, at just 18 years old, destroyed this dream. Confined to bed for months, Kahlo learned to paint by studying her own reflection in a mirror suspended above her bed. The result of these first canvases are regarded as early masterpieces of near-surrealism. When she died in 1954 Kahlo was a respected and successful artist. However, nothing of her reputation during her lifetime could hint at the acclaim that was to follow.

In her directorial debut Quant, Sadie Frost gives an insight into the life and career of one of Britains’s most renowned fashion icons - Mary Quant. Quant paved the way for female empowerment through her innovative, affordable, and accessible designs that perfectly embodied women’s new-found freedom during the ‘swinging sixties’, shaping a new generation. From fashion to homeware to cosmetics, her daring approach to design left a legacy of female liberation which is still relevant to this day.

The best music unites, inspires and entertains, and this year’s FFF offers an exciting mix of the greatest music films out there. Phil Lynott: Songs For While I’m Away is a documentary based on the life of the legendary frontman of Thin Lizzy. The film tells the story of a young black boy from working class 1950s Dublin who became Ireland’s greatest Rock Star. Told extensively through the words of Phil himself and focusing on some of his iconic songs. The film gets to the heart of the man himself, and strongly resonates with Black Lives Matter. It will also gain him a legion of new fans.

As always the festival’s Oscar® and BAFTA affiliated Light In Motion (LIM) Short Film Competition offers the best new international, animated, and Irish short films from around the world.

Special guest Director/Writer/Producer David Freyne returned to his hometown in Country Kildare in Ireland to direct his semi-autobiographical screenplay, set in 1995, just two years after homosexuality was decriminalisation in the country. The critically acclaimed, Dating Amber is a platonic romantic comedy that sees two queer high school students Eddie (Fionn O’Shea) and Amber (Lola Petticrew) at different stages of self-acceptance, pretend to be a couple in order to avoid any speculation from their peers.

Newry born Writer-Director Cathy Brady returns to the Foyle Film Festival to deliver a special talk for university students and to introduce and talk about her critically acclaimed movie Wildfire. This powerful film is the story of two sisters, Lauren and Kelly, raised in a small town on the Irish border, and whose lives were shattered with the mysterious death of their mother.

The festival closes with the NI Premiere of Mark Cousins’ latest work The Story Of Film: A New Generation which examines the most powerful cinema images of the last ten years. This is the follow up to Cousins’ classic The Story Of Film. The film spans from 2012 to 2021 and includes the recent pandemic, with Cousins offering an epic and hopeful story of cinematic innovation from around the world as he helps to uncover new ways of seeing and being in our eclectic digital age.

Welcome back to the Magic of the BIG SCREEN - enjoy the spectacle.

Bernie McLaughlin, Foyle Film Festival Director/Programmer