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Michael Conlan, Liam Neeson, Geraldine Hughes and James Nesbitt among a host of Northern Ireland's boxing stars and celebs backing a new boxing movie Guard which is struggling to finance itself

The team is just £2,000 short if what they need fund it and are now appealing for the public to help

Published 20/11/2016

Olympic veterans: Michael Conlan with pal Paddy Barnes and their London 2012 bronze medals
Olympic veterans: Michael Conlan with pal Paddy Barnes and their London 2012 bronze medals

One of Belfast's boxing stars Michael Conlan has joined a group of our best known actors in pushing a fundraising appeal to finance a new movie Guard set in Northern Ireland's capital.

Boxing movie Guard is set to go into production in Belfast early next year, but so far though, only 86% of the budget has been raised, with a few days to go before the deadline.

Written by The Fall’s Bronagh Taggart – who also penned BBCNI’s 6Degrees – the film is to be directed by husband and fellow Belfast actor, Jonathan Harden, best known for roles in Peep Show and Unforgotten.

Speaking from LA, where he is currently training for his professional debut in Belfast next year, Conlan said a boxing movie set in Belfast is a "long time coming".

“Guard’s a cracking project and it’ll be a great wee film. I’m getting behind it and I encourage boxing fans at home to do the same. A boxing movie set in Belfast, it’s been a long time coming," he said.

The project has also attracted the online support of Carl Frampton and Kellie Harrington.

The first pro boxer to join the team, however, was two-time British champion, Paul Smith Jnr.

He said Taggart has already been training hard to play the lead role.

Northern Ireland born actors Liam Neeson and James Nesbitt have also voiced support for the project, with Nesbitt to be credited as an Executive Producer.

Belfast-born Geraldine Hughes, who starred alongside Sylvester Stallone in Rocky Balboa, is another who has joined the growing list of backers. She even said she sees award-winning potential in the project.

Speaking from her home in New York, Hughes suggested that Guard could be a contender for an Oscar:

"Jonathan and Bronagh are a courageous pair who are creating a piece of work with great nobility of purpose," she said.

"I support them 100% and am excited that a female character is getting into the ring and will no doubt be bringing another Northern Irish film to the Oscars."

The team already includes Glengormley BAFTA-winner Michael Lennox, the Emmy award winning casting director of Game of Thrones, Robert Sterne and RTS award-winning local filmmaker Sean Murray.

However the movie may never happen.

With just a week left of the crowdfunding campaign, the team are 20% short of the £12,000 needed and are hoping the people of Northern Ireland will step in to get the film made.

In return for donating, investors benefit from a range of ‘perks’, including tickets for the premiere, signed memorabilia and exclusive GUARD merchandise. For £10, you can see your name in the credits alongside fellow supporters, including Conlan, Smith Jnr, Nesbitt, Neeson, Anderson and Hughes, plus Northern Irish actors Bronagh Waugh, Niamh McGrady, Karen Hassan, Martin McCann and Packy Lee, who have all already contributed. And the team are also pledging 5% of all money raised to Women’s Aid NI.

Speaking from London, James Nesbitt appealed to people to support the film before it’s too late: “it’s the most magnificent, poignant script and I have every confidence that Jonathan and Bronagh will make it the incredible drama it deserves to be. So go on. Join me. Back Guard.”

To find out more and to back the film, visit http://www.belfastboxingfilm.com

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