Reflections on QFT50

By Joan Parsons, Head of QFT

31 October 2018

Joan Parsons, Head of QFT, looks back on the 50th Anniversary, and forward to the future for independent cinema.

Reflections on QFT50

Aislinn Clarke, Jim Sheridan and Joan Parsons

When I joined QFT in January the 50th anniversary was far away on the horizon, I was determined to mark the significance and there had already been some great work underway to gather people’s memories and start the conversation going. That QFT has survived and thrived during the last 50 years is a major achievement. In the world of independent cinema, where business is often only as good as the last big hit film and sometimes the gaps between these hits can be long and hard, QFT is a seasoned professional consistently punching above its weight. This spirit of resilience is a testament to all the staff that have worked here and the bravery and loyalty of the audiences.

The month that has been QFT50 was designed to celebrate all the different elements of QFT’s programme, from documentaries to interactive work, from Derry Girls to Joan of Arc, from archive treasures to brand new films and everything in-between. We’ve had a really great time bringing QFT50 to life, have made new friends along the way and welcomed back some familiar faces. I have been particularly delighted to meet former staff who are still so fond of QFT and hear about their time here. It’s been wonderful to see newcomers to QFT enjoying their first experience and seeing people coming night after night to see almost everything in the programme. We’ve had audience members ask about how they might make their own films, people who came on spec and then loved what they saw, and people come from across Northern Ireland to see something they just adore.

QFT has a commitment to Northern Irish talent, to Irish film, to British film, to Short films, to European film, to World cinema, to our festival partners, to diversity on and off screen, to access to talent and fundamentally to the art form that is cinema and all it encompasses. As the art-form changes so too does the medium of cinema and it is vital that QFT changes too, embracing innovation and continuing to provide the best cinema experience possible and access to a rich programme of film for all audiences. Belfast is a fantastic city and QFT is an integral part of the film and arts culture available here. We will continue to develop, avoid complacency, and look for ways to improve and reach more, new and different audiences. 

None of us know what ‘cinema’ will be in 50 years time, as a relatively new art-form, still under 150 years old it always evolves but I hope that people will always love these magical places that open our eyes to the world of film, and the stories that exist in our screens.