Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

Editor's Viewpoint: How Ulster became a box office smash

Northern Ireland just cannot help being a world beater. After all the recent sporting triumphs of our golfers we now have an Oscar winner after Terry George's short film The Shore picked up the award. That is an incredible boost to the credibility of the province's film industry.

Everyone in film making knows of the acting talent from these shores like Liam Neeson and Kenneth Branagh and recently the province has been the location for a number of blockbuster television series, but the little golden statuette is the most coveted accolade.

While Holywood Co Down is unlikely to be the new Tinseltown in the near future, the film industry plays an important role in the province. Financially it is a significant factor. In 2010/11 it is estimated to have brought £28m into the economy for an outlay of £4.4m, a very good return.

Film making also adds to the already vibrant arts scene, encouraging new talent both in writing and acting and bringing new production skills to the province.

In his Oscar acceptance speech, Terry George paid tribute to the people of Northern Ireland for their move away from violence.

He is the embodiment of that spirit himself, a former Irish National Liberation Army member who spent time in Long Kesh in the early days of the Troubles, who is now the toast of the film industry.

Terry George's journey from prison to Oscar glory is a bit like the recent history of Northern Ireland.

The province has seen a truly remarkable transformation in the last few years with former paramilitary members now at the highest levels of government.

That remains difficult for some people to accept and their views must be respected. Yet it shows that many previously unthinkable things are possible. The journey to peace here may read like a film script to outsiders, but it really happened and we all played a part in it, if only as extras.

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