Cinemagic and NI Connections Announce Sponsorship for Cinemagic Los Angeles Gala

The award-winning Cinemagic Film and Television Festival for Young People and NI Connections have joined forces for Cinemagic’s Los Angeles Gala on 28th June.

The Gala sponsored by NI Connections marks the culmination of a week-long programme for young people from Northern Ireland and Los Angeles who will benefit from talks, tours and masterclasses with top talent in film and television production.

The 20 teenagers representing Belfast at Cinemagic LA 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.

Each young person on the once in a lifetime trip will have graduated from the IGNITE programme, achieving both academic accolades and building significant personal growth that will help them fulfil their aspirations.

The Gala sponsored by NI Connections, hosted by presenters Jenn McGuirk and Darren Kennedy, will showcase the young people’s work, talent and achievements, empowering them to unlock their creativity and build industry connections in the USA.

During the week of the festival, the teenagers will hear from a host of professionals in the field of film, tv, broadcasting, arts, entrepreneurship and musical theatre including cinematographer Sarah Brandes (Ad Astra, The Morning Show), producer James Longman (Late Late Show with James Corden), screenwriters Ryan Rowe and Adam Lorenzo.

Cinemagic CEO, Joan Burney Keatings MBE said: “We are incredibly proud to be working in partnership with NI Connections as the sponsor of the Cinemagic Los Angeles Gala this June. The support enables us to showcase Cinemagic as a global player in the creative industries and profile 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 ignites so much creativity and learning, and together with NI Connections 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.”

The Cinemagic LA Gala sponsored by NI Connections will take place on 28th June at The Fairmont Miramar – Hotel & Bungalows in Santa Monica, LA.  Cinemagic LA is also supported by NI Bureau.


For all media enquiries please contact Claire Shaw, Cinemagic Press Officer on 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 Los Angeles 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 notable Cinemagic productions that helped spotlight social issues and inspire young people 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.

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. Northern Irish Connections provides a network for partners from all walks of life. Domestic and international, public and private and all members share our ambition to make Northern Ireland the global player it deserves to be.

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.

Pictured L-R are Niamh Hatfield, Ignite student, Strathearn School; Paula Bittles, George Best Belfast City Airport, Joan Burney Keatings MBE, Cinemagic CEO; Moira Loughran, Head of NI Connections, Rian Moylan, Ignite Student, Christian Brothers Grammar School.

Share this :