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Dark comedy ‘Rough’ set in Belfast on longlist for Baftas


Declan Lawn and Adam Patterson

Declan Lawn and Adam Patterson

Declan Lawn and Adam Patterson

A short film created by two men from Northern Ireland has been long-listed for this year’s Bafta awards.

Ballymena native and former BBC NI journalist Declan Lawn wrote and directed ‘Rough’ alongside Belfast-based photojournalist and filmmaker Adam Patterson.

The short movie is a dark comedy about punishment attacks in contemporary Belfast, and one dog’s paramilitary death sentence, filmed on site in the city.

The film’s website description reads: “In post-conflict Northern Ireland, paramilitaries have evolved into street gangs who enforce their own brutal street justice in the form of “punishment” attacks. But when they pass a death sentence on a local dog, they bite off more than they can chew.”

Its homegrown cast includes award-winning actor and comedian Michael Smiley as crime boss Bunter, and Ryan McParland, who has previously starred in Derry Girls and BBC NI drama 6Degrees, as the main character Mucker. Buddy the dog is played by Kelly the little terrier.

Rough has been long-listed in the British Short Film category, alongside nine other films. Five will go on to be officially nominated.

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The movie has already won three industry accolades for Best Short Film at the Krakow Film Festival, Kerry International Film Festival, and the Irish Film and Television Academy Film and Drama Awards in Dublin.

Lawn and Patterson have also worked together previously, most recently on spy thriller Freegard.

They also co-wrote BBC crime drama Blue Lights and in 2019, the pair created ‘The Salisbury Poisonings’ , a critically acclaimed BBC factual drama on the Salisbury poisoning case of 2018 which sent shockwaves through international politics and sparked a major international diplomatic crisis between the UK and Russia.

Former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned by the deadly nerve agent Novichok in the south-west English city.

Lawn, who spent 10 years working as an investigative reporter for BBC Panorama and presented BBC Radio Ulster current affairs programmes, said he is "inspired by the capacity for television drama to act as a companion to journalism, telling powerful stories about how the modern world really works".

Meanwhile, Sir Kenneth Branagh’s ‘Belfast’ movie has been nominated in two categories for this year’s 28th annual Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards.

The critically acclaimed film is up for Best Cast In A Motion Picture, while Dublin-born Catriona Balfe, who pays Ma, has been nominated for Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture.

In the best cast category, Belfast will be up against global Hollywood successes such as ‘House of Gucci’ which stars Lady GaGa, and Balfe will be competing against Cate Blanchett, Ariana DeBose, Kirsten Dunst, and fellow Irishwoman Ruth Negga in her category.

The SAG Awards will be officially announced on Sunday, February 27.

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