Published Thursday, 31 May 2012
Good Vibrations is the big screen life story of the legendary Terri Hooley, Belfast's godfather of punk and the owner of the city's most famous record shop.
Hooley is the fearless impresario who, in the 1970's, discovered The Undertones and created an Alternative Ulster music scene during the darkest days of the Troubles. Spellbinding in every single scene of this delectable drama is a tour-de-force performance from Richard Dormer as Terri Hooley.
Dormer, who previously brought to the stage an award winning portrayal of Alex 'Hurricane' Higgins, surpasses even the brilliance of that with his colourful complex characterization as Hooley. Dormer captures perfectly the loveable one-eyed music bandit with universal appeal. I will be amazed if this time next year he has not been garnered the Best Actor Award at the Irish Film and Television Awards.
We have not always had such movie excitations. There was a time when local films were undervalued, underrated and unseen. Well, thankfully that is no longer the case.
We have always had world class film talent in Northern Ireland, from Stephen Boyd to Liam Neeson, Seamus McGarvey to Kenneth Branagh. However, they have had to carve out their careers across the four corners of the globe.
There was also a time when movies were not made here at all. Even stories that were set here were made somewhere else. Now, a new generation of filmmakers are making movies right here in Northern Ireland. So much so, it is hard to walk down a street in Belfast these days without getting caught in the crossfire of a drama shoot.
Leading lights in this film renaissance are husband and wife directors Glenn Leyburn and Lisa Barros D'sa. Their debut feature film, Cherrybomb, a visceral coming-of-age drama set in Belfast and starring Rupert Grint and Robert Sheehan premiered at the 2009 Berlin Film Festival and has become a cult hit.
Now, with their second film Good Vibrations they return with a first class flick that will delight audiences not only here but also around the world. Great directors work with the very best collaborators, and Glenn and Lisa have brought in the A-Team of local talent. This includes writers, Glenn Patterson and Colin Carberry, producers Chris Martin and David Holmes. editor Nick Emerson and a cracking soundtrack featuring Ulster punk bands Rudi, The Outcasts and Stiff Little Fingers.
Great credit must go to Northern Ireland Screen who have galvanized the film industry here. How amazing to have the opening film at the Belfast Film Festival, funded by Northern Ireland Screen, made by Northern Ireland talent and filmed in Northern Ireland.
When I asked Terri Hooley, what was it like to have your life made into a film, he said "It feels pretty strange to tell you the truth. I have to pinch myself. It's brilliant. I think it's a really good story about Belfast."
I have the unique honour of introducing the screening on the stage of the Ulster Hall. Spreading the word about what is coming out of Belfast these days, good news and Good Vibrations.
It will be an historic event, perhaps the greatest film night in the city ever.
The Belfast Film Festival runs from the 31st May to the 10th June.