The webcasting programme included the award-winning journalist and writer Paul Mason; best-selling author and news editor Sam McBride; and open Democracy editor, Adam Ramsay talking about the current threats to democracy across the world. Keynote topics that were addressed in the webcasts include climate extinction; how to combat the Coronavirus; the impact of this crisis on the arts sector, and ‘Is more economic growth the answer?’. Other speakers include Neil Jameson, the founder of Citizens UK; Margaret Henry, Director of Thrive; Allison Morris, Irish News security correspondent; Grainne Walsh, Director of Stratagem public affairs consultancy; Professor John Barry responding to the planetary emergency; and Robin McAlpine on the future of the UK.
Leading local film-maker Nicky Larkin also previewed the world première of his documentary exploring the creation of The Belfast Ensemble’s provocative Abomination: A DUP Opera and we were delighted to partner with Film Devour in showcasing a number of short films from local directors.
In addition, the festival organised a number of events interrogating aspects of local history with a talk by leading historian, Barry Sheppard, on Bicycles and Protest; a book launch by Fergus Whelan on Belfast United Irishman William Drennan and the history of Whiskey and politics in Belfast with Martin McAuley. Poetry was also represented with a special reading by the award-winning local poet, Chris Agee. We also had music from local artists Joby Fox and Emer Maguire.
A big thanks to our funders for their continued support and trust. We appreciate the support from the VSB Foundation, Queen’s University Belfast, Ulster University, Open University, Linen Quarter BID, British Council and Community Relations Council.