World Premiere of Ballywalter to open the 22nd Belfast Film Festival

  • Marc Mallett reports from the Belfast Film Festival 2022

The Belfast Film Festival has returned for its 22nd year, with a "jam packed night" showcasing the wealth of talent in Northern Ireland as well as the best international films of the year.

In total, 116 films will be screened over the next 10 days, from 32 countries around the world. The festival will also shine a spotlight on emerging film makers and future stars.

Opening the festival's festivities is a star-studded premiere event at Cineworld Belfast, featuring homegrown drama Ballywalter, in which County Down's Patrick Kietly debuts his acting role.

The film is directed by Prasanna Puwanajarah, who will soon star as Martin Bashir in the upcoming series of The Crown.

Ballywalter follows the journey of a man, played by Kielty, attending a weekly stand-up comedy course who develops a touching friendship with a "down-on-her-luck" taxi driver, Seána Kerslake.

Director Prasanna Puwanajarah says Kielty thought there was a 'booking error' when he was approached about the film

Apart from Ballywalter, the festival will feature many premieres of locally produced works ranging in style and genre.

Director of the film festival Michele Devlin said: "This year’s festival contains an impressive line-up of guests including Oscar-winning director Andrea Arnold and multi-award winning actor Stephen Rea.

"Alongside a spotlight on Ukraine and a wonderful array of international premieres, from major Cannes festival prize winners to exciting off-the-beaten-track discoveries, we have a programme that celebrates indigenous talents from short to feature, and from archive to XR. 

"We celebrate the past with our Vox Populi archive installation, the first ever event to be held in the historic Bank of Ireland, Royal Avenue, site of the planned new Belfast Stories centre, and we embrace the future with our focus on immersive and virtual reality film making in the city’s inaugural XR festival."

The Gala event will be hosted by Tara Lynne O'Neill, star of Derry Girls.