Thriller about shady medic to be screened at Galway Fleadh
A Belfast filmmaker has spoken of his pride after his debut, low-budget feature, Black Medicine, was accepted for this year’s Galway Film Fleadh.
Colum Eastwood, whose actor brother Desmond starred in the multi award-winning television show Normal People, wrote and directed the suspenseful thriller about Jo, a black-market medic who carries out illegal operations for the criminal underworld. When she gives refuge to a young girl she must choose between breaking her medical oath or crossing her ruthless employers.
Despite being his first feature length movie, Black Medicine attracted several well-known cast names including local actress Antonia Campbell-Hughes, Dublin’s Orla Brady and Amybeth McNulty, from Co Donegal, star of Netflix hit show Anne with an E and new addition to American sci-fi drama Stranger Things.
Black Medicine is the 11th film to come through Northern Ireland Screen’s New Talent Focus Scheme and was financed by NI Screen and post-production house Yellowmoon. It filmed entirely on location in Northern Ireland over several weeks in December 2019.
Colum, who studied law before turning his attention to film-making, said he was inspired to write the script for Black Medicine after hearing “some wild stories” of partying and crossing ethical boundaries from people working within the medical profession.
“The script isn’t based on anyone I know but just secondhand accounts I heard about people partying hard, working heavy hours and self-medicating to cope with the stress,” said Colum.
“When you get someone who’s dealing with grief and has access to medication, that can be the start of a downwards spiral. How would you support yourself, if you were struck off, for example?
“Would you still be drawn to that kind of work because it’s in you, it’s part of your identity to help people medically? I just thought it was a fascinating subject.”
Colum, who was named a Screen International Star of Tomorrow in 2020, studied at London Film School after graduating with a law degree.
An early short movie, Here, was awarded runner up for Best Student Short at Palm Springs Shortfest in 2014 while another, the supernatural horror The Morrigan, is currently being developed into a feature length film.
Colum’s brother Desmond was also a law graduate before studying acting in Dublin. He played Niall in the popular TV adaptation of Sally Rooney’s Normal People; best friend of Connell, played by Paul Mescal. Desmond also appears in Black Medicine.
But Colum said there was no acting or directing in their blood.
“It’s not like anyone else in the family worked in television or film before,” he said.
“We both did law, then I decided to try my hand at film-making and Desmond decided to go into acting.
“I’ve been really lucky with the great cast for Black Medicine and am proud and delighted that it will be screened in Galway later this week (July 22). I’m so pleased with all the performances.”