The Belfast Film Festival has named Variety film critic Jessica Kiang and Rose Baker as its new programmers, and has also launched an inaugural feature competition.
Kiang and Baker will serve as the creative leads for this year’s BFF, which runs from Nov. 3-12. Kiang will program international titles and Baker will take the lead on films from the U.K. and Ireland.
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Kiang has served as an international film critic for Variety since 2016, covering new releases and international film festivals such as Cannes, Venice, Berlin, Karlovy Vary, San Sebastian, Sundance, Busan, Shanghai and Toronto. She will continue reviewing for Variety. She also contributes to Sight & Sound, The New York Times, The LA Times, The Playlist, Rolling Stone, Film Comment and Criterion.
Kiang is a regular on festival juries, having recently adjudicated the main competition at the 2021 BFI London Film Festival; the main competition at the 2021 International Documentary Festival Amsterdam; and the 2019 Platform competition at the Toronto International Film Festival. Kiang was also a mentor at the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) Critics Campus in 2018, and will again be at MIFF in that capacity next month. She has also been a panelist for the Locarno Critics Academy, Gotham Awards, Indie Spirits and Venice Biennale College.
Meanwhile, Baker is the co-founder and director of Wanda: Feminism & Moving Image festival, the first festival of its kind in the north of Ireland, with a focus on archive film, documentary and new cinema with an intersectional approach.
Baker previously worked as assistant programmer and short film programmer for the Belfast Film Festival and on short film curation for BFF’s sister non-fiction festival, Docs Ireland. She is currently a PhD researcher in Media Arts at Royal Holloway University in London. Baker is passionate about the rediscovery and exhibition of archive film and television, and celebrating it with new audiences.
Elsewhere, BFF is launching an international competition for first and second features, with a total prize fund of £10,000 ($11,963). An international jury of filmmakers and industry professionals will award a prize of £7,000 to the director of the best film, alongside Jury Prizes for outstanding craft contribution and breakout performance of £1,500 each.
Mark Cousins, Belfast Film Festival chairperson and “The Story of Film” director, said: “Jessica and Rose are savvy, bold and decisive in their tastes — exactly what a festival needs. We’re delighted to have such big brains. And Jessica will be a dynamic envoy for the Belfast Film Festival around the world.”
Michele Devlin, Belfast Film Festival director, added: “The appointments of Kiang and Baker, are one of the most exciting developments we have announced in many years. We are looking forward to the new energy, fresh ideas and the beginning of a thrilling new chapter in the life of Belfast Film Festival.”
(Pictured, L-R: Jessica Kiang, Rose Baker)
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