Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Philomena: the movie reducing grown men to tears... and it was made here

True tale tipped for Oscars glory

Judi Dench as Philomena on location in Mourne Mountains for filming of the true story of Philomena Lee and the son taken away from her by nuns
Dame Judi Dench with the real Philomena Lee
Dame Judi Dench with the real Philomena Lee

A comic tear-jerker made in Northern Ireland is proving a huge hit with cinema audiences and gaining rave reviews from the critics.

The moving new movie Philomena, starring Oscar-winning actress Dame Judi Dench, focuses on the powerful true story of an unmarried Irish Catholic woman who, decades after being forced to give up her infant son in the 1950s, embarks on a search to find him with the aid of a BBC reporter, Martin Sixsmith.

Cinemagoers are finding themselves laughing and crying in equal measure during the emotional 92-minute film, which was partially shot in Co Down last year.

On the Rotten Tomatoes movie website, Philomena is receiving 93% approval and it's being tipped for award success.

Many are expecting it to bring home the Bafta for best British film next year, while Dame Judi is already being tipped for an Oscar nomination.

In November the actress and the rest of the cast and crew happily chatted to locals and posed for photographs between breaks in filming on the movie in Bryansford, Downpatrick, Rostrevor and Killyleagh.

The Dufferin Arms in Killyleagh was one of the locations used for shooting scenes of the movie, adapted from Sixsmith's 2009 book, The Lost Child Of Philomena Lee.

Dufferin Arms manager Alex Donnan told the Belfast Telegraph there was a huge buzz in the area when filming took place.

"They were with us for about a week," Alex said.

"Dame Judi was very happy to sign autographs and have pictures taken and she had a look at the castle and had a wander around.

"We had a charity premiere night of Philomena on Wednesday at the Eclipse Cinema in Downpatrick for Guide Dogs for the Blind and around £2,000 was raised.

"Dame Judi also made a donation to the charity."

Alex gave the movie a resounding thumbs-up.

"Dame Judi came across so well in the film and we got quite a wee bit of coverage in it," she said yesterday.

"We still get people coming in from when Rick Stein was here over 10 years ago. It's given the whole town a big boost."

Philomena is the latest good news for the Northern Ireland film and television industry.

Stunning scenery, financial incentives, great movie-making infrastructure and skilled professionals are luring international creative teams here in their droves.

Work on productions such as Philomena, Dracula, Our Robot Overlords and Game Of Thrones is bringing our home-grown creative industry to the attention of some major film and television players, signalling a great future for the industry here.

The film was supported by Northern Ireland Screen, the Invest NI-funded agency which supports the film, television and digital content sector.

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