Free cinema tickets are available to NI film fans this weekend

The National Lottery is welcoming back film fans with free tickets to cinemas across Northern Ireland on Saturday, June 19 and Sunday 20 for National Lottery Cinema Weekend.

By Claire Cartmill
Wednesday, 16th June 2021, 7:00 am

Movie House Cityside, Belfast, Odeon Belfast, Strand Arts Centre, Belfast, Movie House Coleraine, Movie House Glengormley and Movie House Maghera are all participating as a thank you to National Lottery players for their vital contribution to film.

Edith Bowman and directors Dexter Fletcher and Cathy Brady share their excitement for this support for cinema as anyone who plays The National Lottery can claim a free pair of tickets.

Players can use any National Lottery ticket, instant win game or scratchcard bought online or in retail (T&Cs apply) to claim a free pair of tickets to use at participating cinemas at

Free tickets to cinemas across Northern Ireland

This National Lottery Cinema Weekend, there’s something for everyone to see; from BFI National Lottery funded independent films like After Love starring Joanna Scanlan and British Independent Film Awards (BIFA) winning documentary The Reason I Jump, to blockbusters like the musical In the Heights, Disney’s Cruella and horror A Quiet Place Part II, as well as BAFTA and Oscar® winning drama The Father starring Sir Anthony Hopkins.

Edith Bowman, broadcaster and spokesperson for the campaign, said: “As someone who loves the experience of watching films with other people, I’ve missed going to the cinema massively over this past year. Once the lights go down and the film starts playing on the big screen, everything else fades and you’re immersed into the beautiful world of that particular story, the filmmaker’s vision, the characters, the music – the communal experience is escapism in its purest form and provokes such wonderful conversation. I’m so excited about this amazing initiative from The National Lottery and the BFI and really hope film fans across the UK embrace this wonderful opportunity to support their local cinema.”

Dexter Fletcher, director of films such as Eddie The Eagle and the BAFTA-nominated Elton John biopic Rocketman, received National Lottery support through the BFI earlier in his career for the Scottish musical Sunshine On Leith. Dexte, explained: “I’ll always be grateful and appreciative to the BFI and the National Lottery players for the support and funding they gave to the making of Sunshine On Leith. Low budget films are the launch pad for aspiring film makers and enable new and experimental visionaries to come through, get their start and make their mark on a larger stage. Sunshine On Leith was an important stepping stone in my own journey as a director and the BFI and National Lottery helped make that possible.”

Northern Irish director Cathy Brady has experienced the benefits of the extraordinary impact of National Lottery funding first-hand. Cathy’s debut feature film, Wildfire, which will be in cinemas later this year, was made with support from the BFI and Northern Ireland Screen.

Edith Bowman

The film was selected to screen at the Toronto International Film Festival and received the prestigious IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Bursary Award at last year’s BFI London Film Festival.

Cathy continued: “Money from the National Lottery goes to fund incredibly good causes, including much needed opportunities to people with creative talent across the UK film industry. I couldn’t have made Wildfire without National Lottery funding so I’m truly grateful to all the players.”

Strand Arts Centre in Belfast is one of the venues taking part in National Lottery Cinema Weekend and knows first-hand the support the National Lottery gives to cinemas all year round.

Mimi Turtle, Strand Arts Centre CEO, stated: “The past year has been particularly challenging for independent cinemas as they had to close their doors. As a member of the BFI’s UK-wide Film Audience Network, we received emergency funding to help keep us afloat at the start of the pandemic, and were supported to engage a diverse range of audiences as restrictions began to ease. It’s wonderful to be able to repay National Lottery players for their generosity this weekend. We looking forward to welcoming them!”

Ben Roberts, Chief Executive at the BFI, added: “Thanks to the generosity of National Lottery players we’re able to support bold filmmakers, film education and training, the cinemas that mean so much to local communities, and enable UK audiences to see a wide range of films. Over the past year so many of us have missed that special communal experience of watching film on the big screen, so what better way to say ‘thank you’ than a free trip to the cinema! ”

The National Lottery has funded the making of more than 600 films, including award-winning and commercial hits across the years such as Bend it Like Beckham, The King’s Speech and, more recently, seven-time BAFTA nominee Rocks. The funded films combined have won 15 Oscars®, 109 BAFTAs and 29 awards at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival.

As a result of the money raised by The National Lottery for good causes, the BFI invests over £50 million a year to develop and support authentic UK filmmakers and films, enriching independent film culture with their original voices.

The National Lottery Cinema Weekend is part of a wealth of activity in June to thank National Lottery players for contributing over £30 million each week to good causes across the UK.

Players of all National Lottery games must be aged 18 or over.

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