Journey to Mecca tells the story of a young scholar, who leaves Tangier in 1325 on an epic and perilous journey, travelling alone from his home in Morocco to reach Mecca, some 3,000 miles to the east. When he arrives in Mecca, he is a man transformed. We then experience the Hajj as he did over 700 years ago and, in recognition of its timelessness, we dissolve to the Hajj as it is still performed today by millions of pilgrims in some of the most extraordinary and moving IMAX footage ever presented.

Coming to Dublin this Wednesday is Belfast’s Children’s Film Festival Cinemagic.  A festival designed for young people by young people, Cinemagic promises an exciting array of films and events (new and old) for all interested in film and television, whether it’s simply to watch and enjoy, create your own or takes things a stage further and find out more about a possible carrier in film and television. In the past, Cinemagic has welcomed such esteemed guests as Helen Mirren Sir Alan Perker and Ralph Finnes to share their knowledge and skills with young people across the UK and this time, in its inaugural trip to Dublin, Cinemagic plans to continue this tradition with a bevy of guests in attendance, including the likes of Dermot O’Leary. The festival will kick off this Wednesday with the world premiere screening of Martin Duffy’s fantasy feature ‘Summer of the Flying Saucer’. chats to Joan Burney Keatings, Chief Executive of the Cinemagic Festival to see what to expect.

Q:This is your first trip to Dublin. What prompted the move?

A:Well we’ve been running the festival for almost twenty years and we felt the timing was good to expand. We’ve had many Irish students coming up to the festival in Belfast because there was no equivalent festival catering for Children and Young Adults in Dublin or around Ireland.  It seemed like a perfect opportunity both for the festival to expand and to give students the opportunity to get involved. Thankfully the respond has been great. The idea of Cinemagic Dublin only came about in the summer just past and it was designed as a two day event but with the response we received, it has turned into a nine day festival!

Q:What can we expect from Cinemagic Dublin?

A:Well as much as the festival is about cinema, and we have an excellent range of films on offer, the festival hopes to promote opportunities and education for young people. So for example, we have a number of great masterclasses for the different age ranges.  On one level, we have storytelling classes, which will cater for the younger audience but we also have classes for the older students who would be starting out in the industry.

Q:Who will be giving these masterclasses?
A:We have a number of high quality quests attending to hold the classes. Director Martin Duffy will be taking a story writing classes. We also have Dermot O’Leary giving a class on presenting and Chris Rankin, who stars in the Harry Potter films, will give a class on acting. Ros Hubbard, one of the biggest casting agents in London, will be coming in on Friday to take the kids through casting techniques and getting them to audition for her as she is on the look out for young talent to put on her books. It’ll be a great opportunity to give student practical experience.

Q:Looking through the films on offer (Harry Potter, JAWS, The Wizard of Oz, Amelie, An Inconvenient Truth, Donnie Darko, The Incredibles), you certainly have a wide range – what did you have in mind selecting the films.
A:Well when selecting the films we try and consider two things. First it is designed as a family festival and secondly, we are trying to tie in these films to educational discussions – so for example an Inconvenient Truth will be accompanied by a discussion with UNESCO. We hope this will get the schools involved, and show that its not just a matter of watching films, it has a basis for education.

Q:Who selects the films?
A:Well as I said, we look to combine the films with education, so before the festival we sit down with the Board of Education and look at what the big discussion topics were for the year and we will select films around those issues.

Q:What are your own highlights from this year’s festival?

A:Rachel Kavanagh’s masterclass is going to be great.   She is going to show the kids how to put together a show reel and look at the highs and lows of the industry. I’m also very excited that we have Chris Rankin who plays Percy Weasley in the Harry Potter films attending to give a talk about acting.

Q:Why do you think it’s important for people to get involved in film and TV at a young age?
A:Well it’s all about confidence, building relationships and education and I think that’s important at an early age. It’s an opportunity to combine education and fun!

Q:Are there any plans to bring the festival to other cities in Ireland?
A:Definitely. We’ve had such a great response to this festival, we’d be keen to expand in the future. We might look at moving to nearby areas like Naas for example.  We are also going to be running  the festival  in France in September for a couple of days.

Q: What’s the charge for the screenings?
A:We’re  a children’s charity so we try and keep the costs down.  We don’t charge normal cinema rates for the cinema screenings, so there is €4 cost to go and most screenings are covered by discussion as well.

Cinemagic runs across Dublin from 23rd April to  May 1st . For more information visit their website: