In October 1968, Queen’s Film Theatre opened in a converted lecture hall on the university campus with a policy of ‘showing the best international films past and present’. Fifty years later, it remains a much-loved venue for cinema-goers in Belfast and beyond.
In this illustrated talk, Sam Manning uses archival material and oral history interviews to explore the cinema’s often turbulent history. It uses clips from these interviews to share the memories and experiences of a range of former and current staff, cinema-goers and notable visitors. This testimony shows the variety of ways that people remember QFT and demonstrates how their experiences have changed over the past half century. The talk explores which films were popular among QFT patrons and the challenges of operating a cultural cinema in Northern Ireland. QFT’s early years were marked by financial problems and difficulties attracting external funding. In subsequent decades, it survived challenges such as the Troubles, declining cinema attendances and the rise of the multiplexes. Furthermore, the building has changed considerably in its lifetime, including the introduction of a second screen and the relocation of the entrance from a concealed rear alleyway to a grander location facing the university campus.
This talk celebrates QFT’s history and achievements, showing that it has provided a great deal of enjoyment for cinema-goers and made a significant contribution to the social and cultural life of Belfast.
Sam Manning is a social historian interested in the history of cinemas and cinema-going across Britain and Ireland. He is currently a research fellow at QUB exploring Northern Ireland's cinema heritage.
Also see: QFT50 Exhibition
Join filmmaker Brian Henry Martin on an alphabetical odyssey, a special illustrated talk to celebrate the golden age of the cinema.
Since opening its doors in 1968 QFT has occupied a very special place in Belfast’s cultural landscape. Marking the culmination of a year-long AHRC funded research project undertaken by film scholar Dr Sam Manning, QFT presents a fascinating insight into its extraordinary fifty-year history.