G-Media sarl, with the support of the Irish Club of Luxembourg, today announced the launch of the 12th annual British & Irish Film Festival Luxembourg (BIFFL) to be held over ten days from Thursday 16 September until Saturday 25 September 2021, in a hybrid format.
Festival Director Geoff Thompson unveiled this year's programme during a press conference at the Embassy of Ireland in Luxembourg, in the presence of Stephen Dawson, the Irish Ambassador to Luxembourg, and Danial Shaikh, Deputy Head of Mission at the British Embassy in Luxembourg.
The film festival provides a unique opportunity for viewers to experience a wide selection of new films from Britain and Ireland. The ten-day event will include 21 feature-length films, from a cross-section of genres and representing mainly independent cinema, as well as a couple of short films. Of these, sixteen will be screened in-cinema and nine will be available online (five will be online-only).
The BIFFL will have screenings across two venues, Ciné Utopia in Luxembourg-Limpertsberg and the Cinémathèque in Luxembourg-Ville, and will open with the screening of “Herself”, an Irish drama set in the background of the housing crisis, and will close with the English-American co-production “The Current War”, a drama set in the world of innovation and electricity. All but one film will be receiving their Luxembourg premieres during the festival, with the Luxembourg co-production “Ooops 2 - The Adventure Continues” (a.k.a. Two by Two Overboard) having its first screening here in English. Due to COVID-19 restrictions elsewhere, the Irish drama “A Bend in The River” will have its first (worldwide) in-cinema screening.
During Friday's press conference, Geoff Thompson addressed the challenge of organising a festival in 2021 under the cloud of the COVID-19 pandemic. “One of the main challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic for the arts, entertainment and culture sector, specifically the film industry, was that very few films were made in the past eighteen months. Some that were filmed before mid-March 2020 could undergo post-production, albeit in controlled environments, but very few new films were made. Coupled with the fact that one of our main sources for new British films, the Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) was moved from late June to mid-August – and with just four British films in their abridged line-up – has made it a massive challenge to programme British films this year. Nevertheless, in addition to magnificent support from the Irish Film Institute (IFI) as in previous years, Ffilm Cymru has risen to the challenge and [has] helped us by identifying and putting us in contact with no less than four new Welsh films with whom we have agreed terms to be able to screen their films”.
In response to a question from Chronicle.lu, he added that the BIFFL St Patrick's Day screenings, which were held online this past March, had somewhat prepared the organisers for this new hybrid format. However, challenges remained regarding access to copies of the various films and in different formats. "It is certainly a big challenge organising both". If this format is successful, it may be adopted in future editions of the festival, but this would depend on how the situation and public sentiment develop over time.
Commenting on the festival programme, he noted: “While we have a good mix of genres this year, with one animation, one horror and one thriller, the rest are a mix of dramas and documentaries: as the latter are usually received exceptionally well by our audiences, we have no less than eight documentaries this year, with all of them available online (plus the thriller). We are also delighted to include a short film showcase from the IFI and Women in Film and Television Ireland (WFTI) in our online offering which is being provided by the Irish Film Institute”.
Mr Thompson concluded: “As in previous years, we have been able to include films in Gaelic, with both Irish-language and Welsh-language films in this year’s line-up. And we are pleased to have another Luxembourg co-production this year: an animation for our younger audiences which will screen on a Sunday afternoon”.
Regarding the selection criteria for films to be screened at the BIFFL, he told Chronicle.lu that it was important to find "a cross-reference of films from England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland", as well as films from a range of genres to appeal to different audiences.
The festival will operate CovidCheck in both venues for this year’s festival: however, as audiences are still getting used to reducing social distancing, the organisers have decided to keep one free seat on either side of seat reservations at Ciné Utopia, and two free seats on either side of seat reservations at the Cinémathèque. Masks do not have to be worn when seated in the screening rooms.
In-cinema audiences will also have the privilege of meeting actors, directors and producers at a number of the screenings, in the form of Q&A sessions post-screenings. All Q&As this year, unless the organisers receive some last-minute funding for which they have applied, will be done remotely with the special guests beamed into the screening rooms. For many of the online screenings, Q&As have been recorded and are available as additional content.
For more detailed information on the programme, please visit www.bifilmseason.lu.
This year the Awards will feature both an Audience Award as well as an Audience Prize, with two entries winning a Magnum of Crémant from Bernard-Massard / a Hamper from Home from Home, and a Critics’ Award, with the involvement of members of the Association Luxembourgeoise de la Presse Cinématographique (ALPC).
Tickets cost €9 per person per film (in-cinema) or per online screening, with in-cinema ticketing again with Luxembourg-Ticket.lu and online ticketing with the IFI festival streaming platform. The popular Season Special Ticket will be available for purchase online at €35, with ticketing bundles also available (two for €15 or three for €20); this year, a ticket for all online screenings is available at €50. For more information on ticket pricing and purchase of tickets for individual screenings, visit www.bifilmseason.lu (in-cinema screenings) and www.ifiinternational.ie/page/biffl (online screenings). Ticketing may also be available at the venues prior to in-cinema screenings, depending on availability.
The BIFFL acknowledged its support again this year from both the Edinburgh International Film Festival and the Galway Film Fleadh, where some of the films of this year’s BIFFL line-up were premiered. The festival organisers were also grateful for the support of the Irish Film Institute, Culture Ireland, Ffilm Cymru and the Luxembourg Film Fund, as well as the financial contribution of the Embassy of Ireland in Luxembourg though its Emigrant Support Programme.
The BIFFL also enjoys support from its sponsors, specifically this year when many organisations have been hit financially by the COVID-19 pandemic. The organisers especially thanked Silver Sponsor Enovos, Bronze Sponsors Banque Havilland, BGL BNP Paribas, Kerry Luxembourg and Waystone, as well as various partners including DHL, Bernard Massard, Home from Home, the New Delhi restaurant and the Ireland Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce, and media partners: AraCityRadio, Chronicle.lu, Delano and City Savvy Luxembourg. Geoff Thompson explained that the festival is indebted to these organisations for their support through their commitment to supporting community and cultural events through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
- Online Only:
- Aine Tyrrell – Irish Troubadour (IE, AUS, 68 mins) by Enda Murray
- Lost Lives (NI, IE, EN, 89 mins) by Dermot Lavery, Michael Hewitt
- The Queen v Patrick O’Donnell (IE, 89 mins) by Tomás Seoighe – in English & Irish with EN subtitles
- To the Moon (IE, 80 mins) by Tadhg O'Sullivan
- Untold Secrets (IE, 84 mins) by Teresa Lavina
- Also: Brief Encounters: IFI & WFTI Short Film Showcase (IE, 97 mins)
- Also In-Cinema:
- Songs for While I’m Away
- Men Who Sing – in English & Welsh with EN subtitles
- Mountrath Unlocked
- Here Before
- Thu 16 Sep @ Ciné Utopia @ 19:00: Herself (IE, EN, 97 mins) by Phyllida Lloyd
- Fri 17 Sep @ Ciné Utopia @ 19:00: Dream Horse (WA, 113 mins) by Euros Lyn
- Fri 17 Sep @ Ciné Utopia @ 21:30: The Nest (EN, CA, 107 mins) by Sean Durkin
- Sat 18 Sep @ Ciné Utopia @ 16:30: I Never Cry (Jak najdalej stad) (IE, PO, 98 mins) by Piotr Domalewski – in English & Polish with EN subtitles
- Sat 18 Sep @ Ciné Utopia @ 19:00: Ammonite (EN, US, AUS, 120 mins) by Francis Lee
- Sat 18 Sep @ Ciné Utopia @ 21:30: Saint Maud (WA, EN, 84 mins) by Rose Glass
- Sun 19 Sep @ Ciné Utopia @ 14:00: Ooops 2 - The Adventure Continues (LU, IE, BE, DE, 85 mins) by Toby Genkel, Sean McCormack
- Sun 19 Sep @ Ciné Utopia @ 19:30: My Salinger Year (IE, CA, 101 mins) by Philippe Falardeau
- Mon 20 Sep @ Cinémathèque @ 19:00: Songs for While I’m Away (IE, 112 mins) by Emer Reynolds
- Tue 21 Sep @ Cinémathèque @ 19:00: Six Minutes to Midnight (EN, WA, 99 mins) by Andy Goddard
- Wed 22 Sep @ Cinémathèque @ 19:00: Men Who Sing (WA, 76 mins) by Dylan Williams - in Welsh & English with EN subtitles & Mountrath Unlocked (IE, 53 mins) by Maurice O'Carroll
- Thurs 23 Sep @ Cinémathèque @ 19:00: Kat and the Band (EN, 92 mins) by E.E. Hegarty
- Fri 24 Sep @ Cinémathèque @ 19:00: Here Before (NI, 83 mins) by Stacey Gregg
- Sat 25 Sep @ Ciné Utopia @ 16:30: A Bend in the River (IE, 85 mins) by Colin Broderick
- Sat 25 Sep @ Ciné Utopia @ 19:00: Awards & The Current War (EN, US, 107 mins) by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
- Aine Tyrrell - Irish Troubadour: Aine Tyrrell; Enda Murray (director) CONFIRMED
- Dream Horse: Toni Collette (actor)
- Herself: Clare Dunne (actor); Phyllida Lloyd (director; who also directed Mamma Mia! and The Iron Lady) CONFIRMED
- I Never Cry: Piotr Domalewski (director) CONFIRMED
- Kat and the Band: Ella Hunt (actor)
- Men Who Sing: Dylan Williams (director) CONFIRMED
- Mountrath Unlocked: Maurice O'Carroll (director) CONFIRMED
- Songs For While I'm Away: Emer Reynolds (director; who also directed The Farthest @ BIFFL 2017)
- The Queen v Patrick O'Donnell: Tomás Seoighe (writer, director) CONFIRMED
- Untold Secrets: Teresa Lavina (director) CONFIRMED
The festival organiser, Geoff Thompson, will be available for interview on Monday 6 September 2021 between 13:00 and 17:00 – please contact him directly (via email: Geoff@bifilmseason.lu or tel.: 661-250007) to arrange a time.