Belfast Telegraph

Shooting for Socrates: Film about Northern Ireland's epic World Cup game against Brazil will premiere at Belfast Film Festival

By Joanne Sweeney

It was the David and Goliath sporting clash of the century.

When the Northern Ireland football team was drawn to play against the mighty Brazil in the 1986 World Cup, football lovers here hoped for a miraculous outcome.

And now Northern Ireland's epic game against the world's best team is being told in a new film called Shooting for Socrates.

A star-studded turnout is expected for its UK premiere at the Waterfront Hall on April 25 as one of the main events in the Belfast Film Festival. It's just one of three premieres headlining the festival, all three new films about Northern Ireland made by Belfast writers, directors and actors.

Co-written by Belfast playwright and actress Marie Jones and director James Erskine, Shooting for Socrates stars John Hannah as Northern Ireland manager Billy Bingham.

It features an east Belfast father and son who get caught up in the footie fervour for the game.

Good Vibrations and Fortitude actor Richard Dormer plays Tommy who loves football and Greek philosophy while Donegal child actor Art Parkinson plays his son Arthur.

Over 100 screenings will be shown in venues across all quarters of Belfast during the 10-day festival from April 16-25, according to the festival programme which is launched today.

I am Belfast, a film about the city through the eyes of a 10,000-year-old man, has its world premiere when it opens the festival on Thursday, April 16 at the Dublin Road Moviehouse.

It was directed by Belfast-raised critic and filmmaker Mark Cousins with a score from David Holmes, the Belfast composer and producer whose film soundtracks include Out of Sight, Ocean's 11 and Hunger.

The festival will close with the UK premiere of The Survivalist, a feature debut from Northern Ireland filmmaker Stephen Fingleton, whose Oscar-shortlisted film SLR screened at last year's festival.

Belfast actor Martin McCann stars in this tale of a ruthless loner who lives off a small plot of land in post-collapse Northern Ireland.

Festival director Michele Devlin said that the event has grown in size and stature over its 15 years.

"With our partners in culture and tourism, we have been helping to shape a destination message about Belfast as a vibrant, must-visit city and giving film-lovers a reason to come here. And we generate considerable positive PR coverage for Belfast, and Northern Ireland," she said.

Northern Ireland Screen chief executive Richard Williams added: "Northern Ireland Screen seeks to provide the people of Northern Ireland with the opportunity to see as wide a range of films as possible, including those made by the wealth of home-grown creative talent."

Along with the locally made films there is a selection of cult classics such as Eraserhead and Blazing Saddles as well as the latest foreign films which includes the first Iranian vampire western ever made, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night.

The city venues include Queen's Film Theatre, Strand Arts Centre, the Sunflower, Culturlann, Duncairn Centre, and the festival's very own Beanbag Cinema.

  • Tickets can be booked online at or from the Visit Belfast Welcome Centre, 9 Donegall Square North, Belfast or by calling 028 9024 6609.

Top 5 film picks

1 Shooting for Socrates

One for football lovers with homegrown talent.

Waterfront Hall, Thursday, April 23 at 8pm.

2 The Tribe

A smash hit at Cannes starring Gael García Bernal​. QFT Wednesday, April 22 at 9pm.

3 Eraserhead

David Lynch's cult classic with live music.

The Mac, Wednesday , April 22 at 7.30pm.

4 Blazing Saddles

Mel Brooks' laugh out loud western comedy.

The Black Box, Saturday, April 18 at 8pm.

5 The Survivalist

One man's survival story in post-collapse Northern Ireland starring Martin McCann. Moviehouse, Dublin Road, Saturday, April 25 at 7pm.

Belfast Telegraph


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