Belfast’s RENDR festival returns with epic line-up of film, TV and gaming talent
Date Posted: January 24, 2024
Speakers from Netflix, Pixar and Sony Pictures Imageworks among line-up
Following the success of its debut last year, Belfast’s RENDR festival returns to the city next month with an extraordinary line-up of creative talent from the global film, television and gaming industries.
The two-day creativity and technology festival, supported by Northern Ireland Screen, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Studio Ulster, Ulster University, Ulster Screen Academy and Belfast City Council, takes place from 29 February – 1 March at Portview Trade Centre in East Belfast.
Over 30 speakers will deliver keynote talks across two evenings alongside live and interactive demonstrations of new technology, digital art and gaming experiences. For the first time, RENDR will also offer live virtual access to the event from anywhere in the world.
Speakers include award-winning French costume designer Jany Temime, best known for her work on the Harry Potter film franchise for which she earned numerous Saturn Award nominations; Pawel Grochola, FX and Look of Picture Supervisor at Sony Pictures Imageworks, whose most recent feature, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, is shortlisted for Best Animated Feature in this year’s Oscars; and unit stills photographer Chiabella James, who has worked on the sets of Dune, the recently released Saltburn and the upcoming Bob Marley biopic, One Love.
Among the homegrown talent joining this year’s line-up is Laura Livingstone, the Armagh-born VFX Executive at Netflix who launched her visual effects career with Marvel’s Iron Man 2 and recently worked on the Addams’ Family spin-off series, Wednesday.
Alongside creatives from Northern Ireland making waves in the industry, RENDR and Ulster University will deliver a day of workshops and talks aimed at local school pupils. On 28 February, pupils will be invited onto Ulster University’s Belfast campus for some hands-on experience using 3D design software, and to hear from industry professionals about pathways into this exciting industry.
From the gaming industry, RENDR welcomes Jakub Knapkik, Global Art Director at CD Projekt Red, the AAA studio behind the globally acclaimed The Witcher series and Cyberpunk 2077; and HaZimation, the animation and gaming studio that recently opened a new base in Belfast.
Representing the animation industry is Dylan Sission, a Digital Artist at Pixar Animation Studios, who has made a significant contribution to the evolution and promotion of the studios’ RenderMan over his 25-year career; Amy Ash, Head of Character at Axis Studios, who has worked on projects for League of Legends and Magic the Gathering; Hal Hickel, from Industrial Light & Magic, who is currently supervising the animation for The Mandalorian series on Disney+; and Suzy Fagan Parr from Aardman, who served as a director and lead character animator on the recent Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget.
Festival director Michael Weir comments: “RENDR offers opportunity to gain insight into unique perspectives within the fascinating worlds of film, gaming and animation, and to network with highly esteemed professionals in these industries. This is an important festival to the ever-growing creative industry in Northern Ireland and we’re proud to make a contribution. Building upon the success of last year, we hope RENDR can serve to inform, engage and challenge the creative community here to push the boundaries of technology in their work.”
Richard Williams, Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Screen, said: “We are proud to support the return of RENDR, an event that successfully bridges the gap between diverse creative industries. The festival provides an excellent opportunity for talent in film, TV, gaming, animation, and immersive technology to converge, share insights, and inspire the next generation of creatives. With its impressive lineup of speakers, coupled with engaging workshops and interactive demonstrations RENDR showcases Northern Ireland’s commitment to fostering creativity and technology in the global arena.”
Matthew Malcolm, Creative Industries Development Officer, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added: “The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is proud to support RENDR, thanks to The National Lottery players. This funding support reflects the Arts Council’s commitment to encouraging innovative practices that cross artform boundaries and build digital capabilities within the Northern Ireland arts sector. Congratulations to the team at RENDR for bringing some of the biggest names in film to Northern Ireland and for curating a terrific programme of events – don’t miss out!”
Professor Declan Keeney, CEO and co-founder of Studio Ulster, and Director of Ulster Screen Academy at Ulster University, said: “We are thrilled to sponsor this year’s RENDR festival in a year that holds special significance for us, as we eagerly anticipate the opening of the £72 million Studio Ulster complex at Belfast Harbour. Our involvement in RENDR underscores our commitment to fostering a new generation of talent in film production, games design, animation, and interactive media. We’re not just celebrating the convergence of technology and creativity at this festival – we are also highlighting the unique opportunities that await Northern Ireland. With Studio Ulster opening its doors later this year, we are poised to transform Belfast into a virtual production hub for the world’s biggest production companies.”
Cathy Gormley-Heenan, Provost, Ulster University said: “Ulster University is delighted to be working with RENDR this year to offer school pupils the chance to come onto our Belfast campus and get a glimpse into what it’s like to work in the creative industries through hands-on workshops and talks with industry leaders. At Ulster University we are committed to nurturing the next generation of creative talent – talent that is set to benefit from the exciting new opportunities coming to the Northern Ireland film, gaming and animation industries. We’re looking forward to it!”
Belfast City Council Chair of City Growth and Regeneration Committee, Councillor Clíodhna Nic Bhranair, said: “We are delighted to be supporting RENDR this year and to see such a wide range of creative and digital technology leaders and entrepreneurs taking part. Our ambition is to become truly world-class in digital innovation, and investment from the Belfast Region City Deal is helping to make that ambition a reality. But we’ll also need to facilitate engagement, collaboration and knowledge sharing between creative businesses, education, and our public sector – RENDR plays a key role in doing just that.”
For the full list of speakers and to book tickets, visit RENDRfestival.com and stay up to date with the latest developments and speakers announcements on the festival’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.