A film directed and produced by a Belfast based production company is set to be released in the US and will qualify for the 2018 Academy Awards.
Rocky Ros Muc tells the story of Galway man Sean Mannion, a world-class boxer who left the Irish-speaking village of Ros Muc in Galway for Boston in the 1970s.
The film examines Mannion’s fighting spirit inside the ring as a professional boxer, and his life outside the ring where his sparring partners and friends at the time were at the heart of Whitey Bulger’s notorious Winter Hill gang and the South Boston criminal underworld.
The documentary was made by Belfast's Below The Radar production company and was funded by TG4, the Broadcasting Authority in Ireland, the Irish Film Board, Northern Ireland Screen’s Irish Language Broadcast Fund and MG Alba.
It premiered in Boston in March and will have its Irish premiere at the prestigious Galway Film Fleadh on Wednesday.
The film will then go on release in cinemas in New York and Los Angeles in the Autumn, meaning it will qualify for the chance to be shortlisted for an Oscar at the 2018 Academy Awards – a first for an Irish language feature length documentary.
Director of Rocky Ros Muc, Michael Fanning, said: “I first came across the story of Sean Mannion through Rónán Mac Con Iomaire’s book, Rocky Ros Muc and it fascinated me. Mannion is a humble man despite the fact he was a world class boxer and his story is one that audiences will find gripping.
“To think that his story is going to reach audiences across the USA is thrilling for everyone involved. The fact that it’ll also qualify for the Oscar next year is a boost for everyone on the team. We’re particularly excited to hear the response to the film on Irish soil in Galway this week.”
Áine Walsh of the Irish Language Broadcast Fund Northern Ireland Screen added: “We are delighted that Rocky Ros Muc will air to a US audience, it is a beautifully produced documentary dealing with the universal theme of emigration that deserves a wide audience.
"This opportunity will raise the profile of Below the Radar, a company with an excellent track record in Irish language production, as well as raise the profile of Irish language production in general. This also aligns with Northern Ireland Screen's strategy of promoting local content to an international audience”