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Source of Light: √Čanna Mac Cana & QFT

14 December 2020

Director Éanna Mac Cana, whose film Yellowstone: A Brief History Of Belfast City Hospital will be streaming on QFT Player from Thurs 17 - Sun 20 Dec, writes about the cinematic education QFT provided him during the toughest of times.

Source of Light Eanna Mac Cana and QFT

It takes me 3 minutes to walk to QFT. It takes me 4 minutes to walk to the City Hospital. I prefer the shorter walk.

To be able to show my documentary, Yellowstone: A Brief History of Belfast City Hospital, via QFT Player is a moment for me. The cinema has been a noted part of my growing up around the South Belfast Queen’s area. I have lived between it and the City Hospital for most of my life. When I was an in-patient at the hospital during the summer of 2017, I was only allowed out for a few days at a time between cycles of treatment. On some of these days I would try and catch a film at QFT. Due to my compromised immune system I was told to avoid the crowded screenings, this led me to see the lesser known films, the stranger ones - what I was inadvertently doing was educating myself in a new range of cinema and expanding my knowledge on the language of film.

I was training my eye for a different kind of shot, I wasn’t concerned with achieving a perfect frame or performance - it was more about challenging the viewer and subverting expectation. After being discharged from hospital my visits to QFT only increased. I wanted to see everything and combined with what I had learned through The Story of Film: An Odyssey by Mark Cousins, my scope of cinema broadened greatly. His own film, I Am Belfast also left an impression on Yellowstone. I have a warm memory of walking around Belfast with him and his flock of film followers for the film’s behind the scenes. I even got to record some of the behind the scenes! This was an opportunity made possible through QFT's Takeover Youth group. We made short films together and helped programme film festivals.

Unfortunately, I regret not being more proactive… I think I was more concerned with a girl who had just joined! Nevertheless, I still learned a great deal from the workshops, the films we watched and people I would meet. Will Donnelly (Moon Paw Print) composed the score for Yellowstone - he is now a close friend and talented music producer without whom I would not have known without the Takeover group. When I Am Belfast premiered at QFT and before the lights went down, Will and I, and the rest of our Takeover group, stood up one by one and shouted “I am Belfast”… “No, I am Belfast”, mimicking the famous scene from Kubrick’s Spartacus. Mark Cousins was disorientated at first but quickly grasped the situation (I think!).

Other films I have since seen at QFT, which have influenced Yellowstone, include:

Dawson City: Frozen Time by Bill Morrison [Screen 2 - Sun 22 Oct 2017 at 18:20]

Good Time by Safdie Bros [Screen 2 - Sun 26 Nov 2017 at 20:10]

Persona by Ingmar Bergman [Screen 2 - Wed 21 Mar 2018 at 21:00]

Cries & Whispers by Ingmar Bergman [Screen 2 - Tue 03 Apr 2018 at 18:40]

Orphée by Jean Cocteau [Screen 2 - Mon 29 Oct 2018 at 20:30]

Le Bonheur by Agnés Varda [Screen 2 - Mon 26 Nov 2018 at 18:20]

They Shall Not Grow Old by Peter Jackson [Screen 1 - Fri 09 Nov 2018 at 21:10]

The Passenger by Michelangelo Antonioni [Screen 2 - Thu 28 Feb 2019 at 18:20]

Transit by Christian Petzold [Screen 2 - Sat 07 Sep 2019 at 16:00]

Lost Lives by Dermot Lavery & Michael Hewitt [Screen 2 - Wed 06 Nov 2019 at 15:30]

Monos by Alejandro Landes [Screen 1 - Thu 07 Nov 2019 at 15:50]

La Haine by Mathieu Kassovitz [Lost my ticket!]

It may take 3 minutes to walk over to QFT but the walk back is often much longer, as I think through what I have seen and/or talk about it to whomever accompanied me. That person is usually my partner in crime, Frances. And I owe her an apology for always getting my way in choosing the films we go see! Just like the City Hospital, QFT is a source of light with which we only truly appreciate when we are inside it. I want to thank them again for their great programming throughout the years and for being able to show my film with them!

Yellowstone: A Brief History of Belfast City Hospital will be available to watch on QFT Player from Thurs 17 - Sun 20 Dec.