Mike Open

Crézières, Poitou-Charentes, France

I was born (in 1947) at a very young age to poor parents in Sevenoaks, Kent. In spite of showing promise at primary school, I failed my 11+ and was educated at Wildernesse Secondary (Modern) School, Sevenoaks and Bromley Technical College. Around this time, I fell in love with the cinema and joined the British Film Institute (BFI) as a member in 1965.
I studied Mathematics and Physics at the University of East Anglia and, due to the fact that I spent most of my time watching films, and that I was no great shakes as a mathematician, scraped a Pass degree in 1968. I worked for the BFI during the summer vacations of 1966 & 1967 and saw an enormous number of films at the National Film Theatre and elsewhere.
In 1969, I was appointed ‘Administrator’ (chief executive) of Queen’s Film Theatre (QFT), Belfast – a post I held, almost continuously until I took early retirement in 2004. I dabbled in film making with the student film making group and founded a magazine Cinephile in 1971 which only lasted for one issue, but was indexed by FIAF.
In 1974, prior to my marriage in 1975, I left QFT to work in Northern Arts, Newcastle upon Tyne, but was unhappy and returned to QFT when invited to apply for my former post in 1977. The same year, I founded and edited the Irish cultural film magazine, Film Directions which was published quarterly until 1987 (it too was indexed by FIAF). I researched and wrote a book about the history of Belfast cinemas Fading Lights, Silver Screens which was published in 1984. Around the same time I studied part time for an MBA and received same from Queen’s University in 1988.

I took early retirement from his job in QFT in 2004, believing that 32 years was too long for anyone to hold a single post. Since then I taught (Film Studies) for a year, worked as the Northern Editor of Film Ireland magazine and wrote a script (Jack the Giant-Killer). I have contributed occasional articles to the Belfast Telegraph and the Belfast Newsletter, and appeared from time to time on Radio Ulster.
In 2012/3 Northern Irish Film-maker Brian Henry Martin made a short film The Man Who Loved Cinema which focussed on my early work in Queen's Film Theatre.

  • Work
    • Queen's Film Theatre, Belfast
  • Education
    • Wildernesse Secondary School, Sevenoaks
    • Bromley Technical College
    • University of East Anglia
    • Queen's University Belfast