The festival will also feature over 20 Irish short films for the first time, including a Northern Ireland Screen presentation which includes a screening of Golden West, the new and latest short film from Oscar-winning East Belfast directors Ross White and Tom Berkeley.
The film is the latest in a trilogy from the directing duo, who won a BAFTA and an Oscar last year for An Irish Farewell.
There will also be a premiere of Pierce Brosnan’s The Last Gunman. Brosnan dominated the headlines last year after he was spotted in Northern Ireland filming the drama, in which the Bond star dons geriatric prosthetics to play a war hero.
The event will kick off with All of Us Strangers, a heartbreak drama starring Normal People’s Paul Mescal and Fleabag’s Andrew Scott, directed by Andrew Haigh.
The pair play lovers involved in a mysterious relationship, while Scott’s character deals with the apparent return of his long-dead parents (Claire Foy and Jamie Bell), who don’t seem to have aged a day. The film received acclaim for its performances, especially from former GAA star Mescal.
The two-week event will conclude with Oscar-winning comedy-drama Bad Things, which stars Oscar-winner Emma Stone, Willem Dafoe and Mark Ruffalo in Frankenstein, with Stone starring as the “monster.” The film, produced by Irish film company Element Pictures, caused controversy when it debuted at the festival last month due to its sex scenes.
Participants will also screen a special preview of a documentary chronicling the rise of Irish-language rap group Kneecap. The trio, formed in 2017, are made up of west Belfast natives Mo Chara, Mughlai Bapa and DJ Prowai and have sparked controversy over their progressive approach to politics.
The documentary, titled Kneecap: A Work in Progress, will draw attention “to Ulster’s unique problems, contradictions and hypocrisies, making them seem more like the neighborhood pranksters than the stereotypical angry young men.”
The festival will also host another screening of the horror film Friamhacha, a new Irish-language horror film from Belfast writer-director Aislinn Clarke.
Jess Kiang, International Programmer for the Festival, expressed her enthusiasm and said: “Following the resounding success of our first International Competition last year, I am delighted to be back with another showcase of eight incredible films from emerging filmmakers from around the world.
“I’m also excited about the ‘Kill Your Job Before It Kills You’ section, which illustrates our spirit of resistance to inequality and injustice in the workplace. It fits perfectly with our pleasure in honoring the pioneering American filmmakers John Sayles and Maggie Renzi, who together forged a truly independent, diverse and fearless political career.”
Rose Baker, a programmer based in the UK and Ireland, added: “This program is so rich that it is difficult to pick just a few highlights. “Vek 16 mm” celebrates the centenary of the 16 mm format. We’re also very proud to have two wonderful work-in-progress events showcasing some of the best and most original work in Northern Ireland cinema, including Kneecap and Fréamhacha.”