Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 December 2014

Dunlops join the premiere league as the red carpet rolls out for Road

William (left) and Michael Dunlop with Suzi Perry at the premiere of the documentary film about the Dunlop family in Leicester Square, London
William (left) and Michael Dunlop with Suzi Perry at the premiere of the documentary film about the Dunlop family in Leicester Square, London
Racing fans Liam Beckett and his wife Gillian also attended the premiere

A red carpet reception is a million miles away from the dangers of racing for the humble Dunlop brothers William and Michael.

The road racing pair were in the limelight of a different kind last night as they watched their family legacy beamed on the big screen in a glitzy London premiere.

New film Road – narrated by fellow north Antrim native and Oscar-nominated actor Liam Neeson – tells the story of the extraordinary family.

It had its world premiere at the Belfast Film Festival in March and can now be seen in a cinema near you for the next couple of weeks.

The UK premiere was held in The Empire Leicester Square, and was followed by a question and answer session with Michael and William along with road racing giant, TT Winner and good friend John McGuinness.

Former MotoGP presenter and current BBC Formula 1 host Suzi Perry compered the Q&A, which was streamed live to Empire cinemas across the UK to celebrate the release.

Road tells the remarkable tale of the late Joey and Robert Dunlop, who gave their lives to their sport, and Robert's sons William and Michael, who are now carving out their own reputations in one of the world's fastest and most dangerous sports.

Between them, they have torn up TT records, battled the odds against crippling injuries and inspired motorcycle racing fans around the world.

Cinemas across the UK were getting ready for an influx of leather jackets and bikes in the car parks as the documentary about the two sets of Northern Irish brothers, whose names are synonymous with motorcyle racing, got on the road. The documentary will be shown in two Omniplex theatres in Lisburn and in cinemas across Antrim, including the IMC cinema in Ballymena.

Omniplex operations director Paul John Anderson said: "The Dunlops' successes and dedication was a story that touched a lot of people.

"We're very proud to be screening Road. It's a real example and celebration of Northern Ireland's local talent and a great tribute to a legendary family."

Speaking previously at the world premiere, William Dunlop told the Belfast Telegraph he doesn't believe a film has ever depicted motorcycle road racers in the way Road does.

"It's quite strong. There have been so many things done about them but this is the most powerful one – it shows it in a different light," he said.

The film was written, produced and directed by Diarmuid Lavery and Michael Hewitt of DoubleBand films.

Reviews for the film have been glowing, with The Guardian calling it an "agony-packed look at Northern Ireland's TT daredevils".

What the Belfast Telegraph critic said about the film...

These are tough guys in the literal sense of the word: coarse, thick-skinned and unreconstructed in their matter-of-fact approach to their craft.

It's arguable that Road chooses to revel in the riders' macho pronouncements rather than attempt to scratch beneath the surface, to search for a psychological explanation for their apparent death wish. But maybe no such explanation exists.

There is half-hearted talk of “spiritual satisfaction” and “rural heritage”, but essentially, these lot race because they want to. Because it's good craic.

Over time, Joey and Robert's story becomes even more grimly compelling. These tragic events are covered in unflinching detail., but Lavery and Hewitt's superb documentary succeeds in persuading the viewer not to be sad— that the Dunlops died doing what they loved

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