Belfast Teens Set for Inspiring Cinemagic Los Angeles IGNITE Experience!

PEYE 230623KB1 0019

Teenagers from Belfast have set off (today 23rd June) on a week-long trip of a lifetime as part of this year’s Cinemagic LA programme. The teenagers are participants of IGNITE, an innovative youth leadership initiative established and spearheaded by George Best Belfast City Airport, in partnership with Cinemagic which aims to provide young people from all backgrounds with life-changing opportunities.

The award-winning Belfast based Cinemagic Film and Television Festival for Young People will provide an inspiring and motivational week (June 23rd-28th) for the young people who will hear from a host of professionals in the field of film, tv, broadcasting, arts, entrepreneurship, musical theatre, stage combat and will be partnering with LA based youth filmmaking non-profit Film2Future for a joint international program where students will spend a day learning and making shorts together. As well as practical filmmaking opportunities, the young people will visit some of Hollywood’s top studios and movie locations including the Universal Studios Lot, Creative Visions, and 87 North.

Guest speakers during the festival week include director and producer Andrew Molina (Bates Motel: The Check Out, Heaven on Earth), cinematographer Sarah Brandes (Ad Astra, The Morning Show), producers James Longman (The Late Late Show with James Corden) and Jill King (Rachael Ray), screenwriters Ryan Rowe (Charlie’s Angels) and Adam Lorenzo (Everybody Hates Chris, Everybody Loves Raymond), five time Academy Award nominated, Belfast-born sound mixer, Peter J. Devlin (Ant Man and the Wasp, Wakanda Forever), Sharon Carpenter, TV host & broadcast journalist, business leaders Ellis O’Connor, MD at BDT & MSD Partners, and Sam Jagger, General Manager, Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows, Shelley Reid, Head of Business Affairs at Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment TV Group, and Cynthia Yorkin, actress and producer (Blade Runner 2049).

The culmination of the week is a Cinemagic Gala showcase hosted by presenters Jenn McGuirk and Darren Kennedy, to celebrate creativity sponsored by NI Connections, which will bring the week’s activity to a close on 28th June.

The talents of young people from 40 different schools in Belfast and Los Angeles will be on show to a VIP audience in the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows in Santa Monica. Each young person from Belfast will have graduated from the IGNITE programme, achieving both academic accolades and building significant personal growth that will help them fulfil their aspirations.

Cinemagic CEO, Joan Burney Keatings MBE said: “We are so thankful to our incredible sponsors and partners in supporting us to provide inspiring talks, tours, and masterclasses with top talent in film and television production in the heart of moviemaking in LA from 23rd to 28th June. We look forward to showcasing Cinemagic as a global player in the creative industries and celebrating Northern Ireland’s success stories internationally.

“Uniting young people from George Best Belfast City Airport’s IGNITE programme in Northern Ireland and students in Los Angeles to collaborate with the film industry sparks so much creativity and learning, and together with NI Connections and NI Bureau we can inspire and motivate the next generation of creatives.”

Head of NI Connections, Moira Loughran said: “Head of NI Connections, Moira Loughran said ‘We are delighted to be partnering with Cinemagic as sponsor of the Los Angeles Gala as we see it as a fantastic opportunity to be able to help and showcase the immense talent of our young people from Northern Ireland.”

“It is an opportunity to make and build industry connections in the USA and for us at NI Connections, that is what we are passionate about – making those connections and providing our diaspora with an opportunity to demonstrate the full potential of their talent and influence.”

Director of Corporate Services at George Best Belfast City Airport, Michelle Hatfield, said: “At Belfast City Airport, we are passionate about building the workforce of tomorrow and championing young people to become future leaders. Through our IGNITE programme, in partnership with Cinemagic, the young people on this trip have already achieved great things and shown incredible potential. The LA gala is the perfect opportunity to reward their hard work and dedication and celebrate their successes.”

Deputy Director, Northern Ireland Bureau, Eamonn McConville added: “It’s such a pleasure to partner with Cinemagic on the LA programme, which is helping shape our future leaders; and providing them with the inspiration to be part of Northern Ireland’s flourishing Creative Industries.”

The Cinemagic LA Gala sponsored by NI Connections will take place on 28th June at Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows, Santa Monica, LA. Cinemagic LA is supported by George Best Belfast City Airport, NI Connections, NI Bureau, Aer Lingus, Creative Visions, Universal Studios Lot, 87 North.


For all media enquiries please contact Claire Shaw, Cinemagic Press Officer on 07793025910 / 028 90 311 900 or email

Note to Editor

Cinemagic ( is an award-winning film charity established 34 years ago during the Northern Ireland Troubles to unite young people from different communities and teach them about film making through film exhibition, workshops, masterclasses, and film productions. In addition to its highly successful annual film festival in Belfast, it has produced multiple short films on a range of issues including homelessness, mental health, discrimination, gender-based violence, climate change and the environment. It has also produced feature two feature films, A Christmas Star and Grace and Goliath, both of which trained aspiring young filmmakers. 

Patrons include Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell, Saoirse Ronan, Pierce Brosnan, Dermot O’Leary, Julian Fellowes, Suranne Jones. Cinemagic engages with 40,000 young people each year. It educates the next generation of filmmakers, from camera operators and sound engineers to actors, writers, and directors, with a particular focus on inclusion and those who might face barriers entering the industry.

Cinemagic delivers programmes and festivals in Belfast, Dublin, London, New York, Los Angeles, and most recently the Middle East, where it produced ‘Abia’, a short film in partnership with Jordanian NGO Generations for Peace, with Syrian and Jordanian young people, to profile the issue of gender-based violence.  ‘Abia’ supported by the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and the Embassy of Ireland in Jordan won Best Foreign Language Film at the 2022 British Short Film Awards. It was screened in New York, during the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) and the UN’s observance of International Women’s Day 2023. Cinemagic was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation on behalf of the City of LA at a screening of Abia in the Consulate General of Mexico. The certificate commended the film charity for its talent and courage shown while producing the film and how it inspired a call-to-action and important conversations around gender-based violence.

Other significant Cinemagic productions that helped spotlight social issues include climate change film ‘Heaven on Earth’, made with the support of the British Consulate LA and the GREAT programme, and ‘So What If It Rains’ made to mark the 25th Anniversary of The Good Friday Agreement.

Film2Future (F2F) ( is a nonprofit, professional-level filmmaking program for underserved teenagers in Los Angeles with a mission to diversify the entertainment industry workforce and inspire future filmmakers. F2F empowers a new generation of diverse content creators to share their stories and provides hands-on training for students to obtain paid positions across the entertainment industry — all at zero cost to students and their families. F2F’s network of more than 900 industry leaders from across the media landscape volunteer as part of F2F’s intensive curriculum. Since 2016, F2F has served 175 students, students have earned over a $1 million dollars in college scholarship money and have been placed in over 108 paid jobs/internships!

NI Connections is the global diaspora initiative for Northern Ireland. The goal is to enhance the economic prosperity of our region by working with one of our greatest global assets – our diaspora. Our mission is to celebrate what makes Northern Ireland such a great place to live, work, study, visit, invest and do business, to harness the talent and influence of our global diaspora to attract new international trade, foreign direct investment, education, innovation, and business tourism opportunities and to showcase quality career opportunities for those considering return or relocation to thriving sectors of the NI economy. We connect the diverse strands of the Northern Irish community abroad and are passionate about providing our diaspora with an opportunity to demonstrate the full potential of their talent and influence. We are inspired by the fact that our diaspora has such a strong global entrepreneurial influence, and we recognise that this has led to international investors choosing Northern Ireland as their location of choice.

IGNITE is an innovative joint youth leadership initiative established by George Best Belfast City Airport in partnership with award-winning film charity Cinemagic, which aims to provide 100 young people from all backgrounds with life changing opportunities. Launched in 2019 by Senior Vice President of HBO and Game of Thrones creator Jay Roewe, IGNITE inspires participants from secondary schools and higher education colleges across Greater Belfast to develop valuable employability and life skills that will open doors in the future and allow them to gain an NLP Diploma in Personal and Career Development.

Share this :