Belfast Film Festival appoints variety critic Jessica Kiang and Rose Baker as programmers and launches international competition (EXCLUSIVE)

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The Belfast Film Festival named Variety film critic Jessica Kiang and Rose Baker as new programmers, and also launched an inaugural feature film competition.

Kiang and Baker will serve as the creative leads at this year’s BFF, which runs from November 3-12. Kiang will program international titles and Baker will direct films from the UK and Ireland.

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Kiang served as an international film critic for Variety since 2016, covering new releases and international film festivals such as Cannes, Venice, Berlin, Karlovy Vary, San Sebastian, Sundance, Busan, Shanghai and Toronto. She will continue to revise for Variety. She also contributes to Sight & Sound, The New York Times, The LA Times, The Playlist, Rolling Stone, Film Comment and Criterion.

Kiang is a regular on festival juries, having recently judged the main competition at the 2021 BFI London Film Festival; the main competition of the Amsterdam International Documentary Festival 2021; and the Platform 2019 competition at the Toronto International Film Festival. Kiang was also a mentor at the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) Critics Campus in 2018, and will be at MIFF again in this capacity next month. She has also been a panelist for the Locarno Critics Academy, Gotham Awards, Indie Spirits and Venice Biennale College.

Meanwhile, Baker is co-founder and director of Wanda: Feminism & Moving Image, the first festival of its kind in the North of Ireland, focusing on archival films, documentaries and new cinema with an approach intersectional.

Baker previously worked as an assistant programmer and short film programmer for the Belfast Film Festival and on curating short films for BFF’s non-fiction festival, Docs Ireland. She is currently a PhD student in media arts at Royal Holloway University in London. Baker is passionate about rediscovering and exhibiting film and television archives, and celebrating it with new audiences.

Elsewhere, BFF is launching an international competition for first and second feature films, with a total prize of £10,000 ($11,963). An international jury of filmmakers and industry professionals will award a prize of £7,000 to the director for best film, as well as jury prizes for outstanding craft contribution and outstanding performance of £1,500 each.

Marc Cousinschairman of the Belfast Film Festival and director of ‘The Story of Film’, said: “Jessica and Rose are savvy, bold and decisive in their tastes – just what a festival needs. We are delighted to have such big brains. And Jessica will be a dynamic emissary for the Belfast Film Festival around the world.

Michele Devlin, Director of the Belfast Film Festival, added: “The appointments of Kiang and Baker are one of the most exciting developments we have announced in many years. We look forward to new energy, new ideas and the start of an exciting new chapter in the life of the Belfast Film Festival.

(Photo, L-R: Jessica Kiang, Rose Baker)

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