Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Free 'terror pack' stunt to promote movie A Belfast Story sparks fury

The terrorist-related items in the publicity pack sent out to critics and journalists to promote the thriller, A Belfast Story
The terrorist-related items in the publicity pack sent out to critics and journalists to promote the thriller, A Belfast Story

A man whose father died in an IRA bombing has said he is disgusted by a film director who sent out packs containing a balaclava, nails and duct tape to promote a movie set in Belfast.

Nathan Todd has apologised after the packs were sent to journalists and critics to promote A Belfast Story, which follows a detective investigating the murders of former terrorists.

Mr Todd said the idea was to "interest people" in the film rather than frighten or offend them.

Stephen Gault, whose father Samuel was killed in the 1987 Enniskillen bombing, said the stunt was "highly offensive".

"He is making a mockery of terrorism," Mr Gault told the Belfast Telegraph.

"The balaclava is symbolic of a terrorist but he has used it as a joke – it is completely insensitive.

"It is very hurtful for anyone who has lost a relative at the hands of terrorism."

The film is set in a post-Troubles Belfast still marred by violence and echoes of the past, with Irish actor Colm Meaney starring as a detective investigating the killings of ex-IRA men.

Mr Todd, who studied engineering at Queen's University Belfast, apologised for any offence caused.

"The idea was to interest people in a movie we were making which is essentially the story of the two choices which face Belfast, do we engage retribution or reconciliation," he said. "Obviously, the intention is not to offend anyone. We apologise if we did."

UTV presenter Frank Mitchell, who received one of the packs, said he had been puzzled by its contents.

"My immediate reaction was to question it as strange, not to criticise it," he said.

But movie journalist Chris Hewitt, from Banbridge, branded it "the most distasteful freebie ever".

"Just been sent the most distasteful freebie ever: a box containing a bag of nails (for a nail bomb) and a balaclava, for The Belfast Story," he wrote on Twitter.

"Genuinely stunned by this."

PROFILE

A mechanical engineer by trade, Nathan Todd has become a skilled film-maker. Having been schooled in both Cork and Belfast he has a uniquely Irish perspective on storytelling, with his films often dark, thoughtful and eccentric.

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