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Gem of a night for stars at Ring movie premiere

By Maureen Coleman

The red carpet was rolled out in Belfast last night for the star studded world premiere of Closing the Ring.

Hollywood legends mingled with local celebrities, dignitaries and politicians at the Waterfront Hall for the unveiling of Lord Richard Attenborough's latest movie.

The wartime romance, spanning two continents and half a century, was shot mainly on location in Northern Ireland.

And for its Belfast-based producer Jo Gilbert, bringing the premier to the city was a dream come true.

"I am so unbelievably proud that it has all come together," she said as she walked the red carpet.

"We had a meeting with the politicians in Stormont today and told them that the film industry here is definitely open for business."

Among the stars who jetted into Belfast for the glitzy event was Hollywood legend Shirley MacLaine, who arrived on the arm of Lord Attenborough.

Dressed in cream and gold, Shirley said she was delighted to be back in Belfast for the premiere.

Shortly before they made their entrance, Pete Postlethwaite arrived, accompanied by Belfast actor Martin McCann.

When asked what he thought of Martin, the young star of the movie, Pete replied: "I'm terrified he's going to wipe us all off the screens."

Martin, who is currently working on the sequel to Stephen Spielberg's Band of Brothers, arrived from Australia for the premier.

"I can't believe all this, it's surreal," he said.

"Never did I imagine this, I don't know what to say. I landed the role in Closing the Ring and then everything snowballed."

One of the last to arrive was Hollywood starlet Mischa Barton, looking stunning dressed head to toe in Northern Ireland fashion, wearing a high waisted black satin puff ball skirt and cream chiffon blouse by local designer Una Rodden and Garvagh shoe designer Anita Flavin.

Mischa, who was styled for the event by Belfast Fashionweek director Cathy Martin, stopped to sign autographs for dozens of fans who stood in the cold hoping to catch a glimpse of the A-list celebrities.

The former OC actress, who also had her hair and make-up done by Belfast men Michael Quinn and Paddy McGurgan, said she was honoured to be considered a style icon for young women.

And she said she loved Belfast.

"I've been to Belfast before and I love it," she said.

Also at the premiere was Stormont Minister Nigel Dodds with his wife Diane, actor Ian McElhinney was accompanied by his son Mathew, both of whom starred in Closing the Ring, actress Olivia Nash and Brendan Gleeson.

Before the showing, young Australian singer Amy Pearson performed the title track from the movie and later revealed that she planned to release it at the start of 2008.

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