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Liam Neeson and Adrian Dunbar add voices to Lost Lives film documenting Troubles deaths

Exclusive: film based on journal

James Nesbitt
James Nesbitt

By David O'Dornan

A host of Northern Ireland's best-known actors have come together for a movie documenting the horrors of the Troubles which will premiere next month.

Sir Kenneth Branagh, Liam Neeson, James Nesbitt, Adrian Dunbar, Conleth Hill, Stephen Rea and Ciaran Hinds are among those lending their voices for the Lost Lives movie based on the book of the same name.

Lost Lives has been lauded as a stellar work of journalism and reference guide which recorded the circumstances of every single death of the conflict - 3,700 killed in 30 years - when it was published in 1999.

Written over seven years by five journalists - David McKittrick, Brian Feeney, Chris Thornton, David McVea and the late Seamus Kelters - the award-winning book was published with updated editions, with the fourth and most recent in 2007.

The film - released to mark the 50th anniversary of the start of the violence - will feature high-end cinematography and an orchestral score from the Ulster Orchestra, and its producers have called it "a requiem" and "a reminder that war is hell".

Other narrators include Roma Downey, Michelle Fairley, Bronagh Gallagher, Brendan Gleeson, Dan Gordon, Susan Lynch, Ian McElhinney, Michael Smiley and Bronagh Waugh.

It has been awarded official selection at the Cork Film Festival and BFI London Film Festival and will be screened on Thursday, October 10, at the Curzon Mayfair Cinema.

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Kenneth Brannagh
Kenneth Brannagh

The BFI website has said the film weaves archive footage with recordings of family and friends responding to the devastating news of the death of loved ones - and that Lyra McKee, the journalist shot by Derry dissidents earlier this year, will feature as the last entry of the book.

Local audiences can see it at the QFT in Belfast on October 11, 12 and 14-16, with the screening on Saturday 12 followed by a Q&A with directors Dermot Lavery and Michael Hewitt.

Having worked together at their production company DoubleBand Films since the late 1980s, they were also behind 2014's award-winning Road about motorbike racing, narrated by Liam Neeson, while their next after Lost Lives will be on the poet Seamus Heaney.

The directors said in a statement: "It was, and remains, the only book to record the circumstances of every single death in a conflict. As such it is focused - through every meticulous entry - on the human and emotional cost of a war. In the words of the five journalists who wrote the book over a period of seven years, it 'should serve as a lasting reminder of why Northern Ireland should never again return to full-scale conflict, a lasting reminder of the sadness and the pity of it all, a lasting reminder that war is hell'.

"Our film is not a documentary but a filmic response to the book and what it represents.

"It is a film that weaves together high-end cinematography, archive film, a commissioned score performed by the Ulster Orchestra and a number of extracts from the book, read by the very best of our acting talent.

Adrian Dunbar
Adrian Dunbar

"For us it is a cinematic event that addresses the past - but looks to the future."

The DoubleBand Films production for BBC Northern Ireland and Northern Ireland Screen is expected to be broadcast on television later this year.

Ian McElhinney
Ian McElhinney

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