At this year’s Foyle Film Festival we wish to celebrate the life and legacy of founder member Martin McLoone who sadly passed away in October 2023

Martin was appointed to the new Media Studies department of University of Ulster at Coleraine in 1986 and immediately began working with filmmakers in Derry from Northland Films and Derry Film and Video to create an independent film festival for the North West.

The first Foyle Film Festival took place in 1987 with a major strand of programming around images of Derry. Three years later Foyle Film Festival joined in partnership with the North West Musicians Collective to establish Nerve Centre.

For over three decades, Martin McLoone was a frequent contributor to the film festival and he served for a time on the board of Nerve Centre. As one of Ireland’s leading film historians, Martin’s deep knowledge of Irish cinema inspired the festival programming of thematic strands such as “The Irish Abroad” in 1992. Martin enjoyed the opportunity the festival offered to host many of the filmmakers he championed in his writings, such as Neil Jordan and Paul Greengrass.

Martin attending Foyle Film Festival 30th anniversary

When we celebrated our 30th anniversary in 2017, Martin gave a keynote lecture exploring the origins of Foyle Film Festival as a grassroots community initiative in a city that found itself in the media spotlight as the birthplace of the Troubles.

In his role as educator, Martin taught many of us film and media at Coleraine where his enthusiasm for Irish cinema was infectious. This is yet another way in which he enriched our lives. We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to this warm-hearted, generous and humble Derryman who had the vision to establish a film festival that has become an essential part of the vibrant cultural life of Derry. Long may it continue.

Martin Melarkey
Centre Director, Nerve Centre

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