Filmmaker defends balaclava promo kit

Filmmaker defends balaclava promo kit

The writer and director of a film set in Belfast has defended the decision to promote the movie using press kits containing balaclavas, nails and duct tape - saying it was never the intention to offend.

Nathan Todd, who studied engineering at Queen's University Belfast, spoke to UTV after some people branded the publicity material for his film A Belfast Story insensitive.

"Obviously we're not looking to offend anyone - I'd be the first to hold my hands up and say that's just not something we want to do and apologies if they are," he said.

"I'll be honest enough to say we are competing, with local actors and local crew, against some Hollywood blockbusters - so we appreciate all the attention we can get.

"But it wouldn't be our intention to cause offence to get it. It's just not worth it."

Co Down native Chris Hewitt, news editor of Empire magazine, was among those who spoke out against the provocative approach to publicity.

"I'd like to sit down with whoever came up with that little brainwave and explain to them what growing up during the Troubles was like," he said.

It's very much a work of fiction and a piece of art - we're not making a documentary on the Troubles and we're not making something set in the 70s.

Nathan Todd, A Belfast Story

But the film director had at least considered the issue, saying: "My father was a journalist for Radio Ulster throughout most of the 70s. I asked him: 'Would you find this a problem?' He was fine."

UTV's Frank Mitchell, who also received one of the press packs, said: "My immediate reaction was to question it as strange, not to criticise it - my immediate reaction was not one of offence, but some people were offended."

While Nathan Todd accepted that his dad "isn't a full sampling group", he insisted that he would rather people were talking about the film itself.

Set in a post-Troubles Belfast still marred by violence and echoes of the past, well-known Irish actor Colm Meaney stars in the lead role as a detective investigating the murders of former IRA men.

The press kits do reflect both a paramilitary past and moving to a life beyond that, with family photos among the items included.

"We're asking about what you do now as your causes grow older and as you grow older, as your gun-wielding hand grows a wee bit less steady," Nathan Todd explained.

"We're asking what causes are still worth fighting for and which ones we should let go and let bygones be bygones about."

A Belfast Story is released on 20 September.


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