Archive of films I Am Belfast / I Am Belfast

United Kingdom
2015, 84 min

Section: Documentary Films - Competition
Year: 2015

“I met a woman. She said that she is Belfast, the city in Northern Ireland where I grew up. The woman said that she’s as old as the city,” states Mark Cousins at the beginning of his meditative dialogue with the personification of Belfast. This cinematic essay abandons the parameters of classic documentary language, asking us to perceive the film as a magical-realist mix of reality, dreams, myths, and local storytelling.


“I met a woman. She said that she is Belfast, the city in Northern Ireland where I grew up. The woman said that she’s as old as the city,” says Mark Cousins at the beginning of his poetic dialogue with the personification of Belfast. He continues: “As she talked, I got drawn in. She had a way of seeing. A way of talking and hoping. So I listened...” The Northern Irish director sets out on a meditative journey through his hometown, fully aware that Belfast resists easy interpretation because first impressions so often prove false. David Holmes’ haunting score and the creative contribution from world-renowned DOP Christopher Doyle (Fallen Angels, In the Mood for Love, Hero, Ondine) assist the director in deftly shedding his own parameters for the classic documentary, this time in favor of magical realism. The result is a cinematic melting pot blending reality with dreams, hallucinations, myths, and the tales of grandmothers – a must-see work for fans of Cousins’ intuitive approach to filmmaking.

Martin Horyna

About the director

Mark Cousins (b. 1965, Belfast) is a Northern Irish filmmaker, writer, curator, film critic, and traveler living in Scotland. His feature debut The First Movie (2009) earned the Prix Italia and was included in Karlovy Vary’s 2013 Focus on Kurdish Film. On the world stage, Cousins is best known for The Story of Film: An Odyssey (2011), which was presented at numerous festivals, including KVIFF 2012. He has written works on cinema: The Story of Film (2004), Imagining Reality: The Faber Book of Documentary (with Kevin Macdonald, 2006), and Widescreen: Watching Real People Elsewhere (2008). He and Tilda Swinton head up the 8½ Foundation, whose mission is to broaden kids’ cinematic horizons with movies from around the world. Other films screened at KVIFF: What Is This Film Called Love? (2012), A Story of Children and Film (2013), and Life May Be (co-dir. Mania Akbari, 2013).


Hopscotch Films
Film City Glasgow, 401 Govan Road, G51 2QJ, Glasgow
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 141 440 6740

About the film

Color, DCP
International premiere

Section: Documentary Films - Competition
Director: Mark Cousins
Screenplay: Mark Cousins
Dir. of Photography: Christopher Doyle, Mark Cousins
Music: David Holmes
Editor: Timo Langer
Producer: John Archer, Chris Martin
Production: Hopscotch Films
Coproduction: Canderblinks Film and Music
Cast: Helena Bereen
Contact: Hopscotch Films


Mark Cousins

Film Director

Chris Martin


Helena Bereen



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