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Thursday 26 May 2016

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Family's pride as story of famous bike racing dynasty told

By Claire Williamson

Published 28/03/2014

Danny Kennedy MLA with North West 200 clerk of the course Mervyn White and wife Hazel
Danny Kennedy MLA with North West 200 clerk of the course Mervyn White and wife Hazel

William Dunlop spoke of his pride last night as the world premiere of a movie about his famous road racing family kickstarted the Belfast Film Festival.

Motorcycling and film fans, some dressed in racing jackets, joined the Dunlop family as they walked the red carpet for the opening night gala premiere of Road.

The documentary -- narrated by fellow north Antrim native and Oscar-nominated actor Liam Neeson -- tells the story of this extraordinary road racing family.

Road tells the remarkable tale of the late Joey and Robert Dunlop, who gave their lives to their sport, and Robert's sons William and Michael, who are now carving out their own reputations in one of the world's fastest and most dangerous sports.

Between them, they have torn up TT records, battled against the odds against crippling injuries and inspired fans around the world.

In attendance at the sold-out screening at Belfast's Movie House cinema were Joey's widow Linda, Robert's widow Louise and her sons who keep the family's winning tradition alive.

William told the Belfast Telegraph he doesn't believe a film has ever depicted motorcycle road racers in the way Road does.

"It's quite strong. There have been so many things done about them but this is the most powerful one -- it shows it in a different light," he said.

"After seeing it you feel good. I feel very proud.

"It will make people who don't really understand what we do aware of how good it is as a sport. People see the dangerous side of things, but it's a family tradition for us and they will get to see the good side of the whole thing."

Michael added: "I'm looking forward to just seeing what other people think of it now.

"It is what it is, some people will like it and some people won't.

"It's life, it's an impacting hard story, but that's what road racing is all about."

Swarms of people descended on the Dublin Road cinema for the documentary, which was shown to 900 people on three screens simultaneously.

Close family friend Liam Beckett said: "I have seen it twice before tonight and it is a rollercoaster of emotions.

"This acknowledges in the proper manner a truly unique family."

The film was written, produced and directed by Diarmuid Lavery and Michael Hewitt of DoubleBand films.

Mr Hewitt said: "We are absolutely delighted to be showing this film to a home crowd.

"It's great to have the family here because ultimately, this is a family story, so we are delighted that they are here."

Among the fans queueing for the film was Walter Millar (43), from Cullybackey, who came with his three sons.

He said: "It's great to see so much support for a local story."

And as the crowds for Road dispersed, hundreds of Game Of Thrones fans took their seats to see the hotly anticipated exclusive preview of the first episode of season four -- 11 days before its UK release.

Tickets were allocated on a lottery basis with more than 500 lucky winners getting a sneak preview of the hit HBO programme.

The Belfast Film Festival continues across a host of venues until April 5.

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