I fell in love this week. Not with a man, but with a movie.
The movie was Grace and Goliath - a production made by the charity Cinemagic led by my dynamo chum Joan Burney-Keatings with a star-speckled cast and a whole heap of volunteers and kids from here and LA ‘learning on the job’ from some wonderful industry mentors.
Aside from the feel-good footage of our city and beautiful Atlantic coastline, and the characters played by actors and personalities including Emy Aneke, Laura Whitmore, Ciaran Hinds, Ciaran McMenamin, Olivia Nash and Paddy Jenkins (love these two!) - among others, the film also had a key ingredient in its truly wonderful storyline. And I am proud to say another chum, Maire Campbell, wrote this (now award-winning) script. Described by the film’s director, Tony Mitchell, as a “love letter to Belfast and the people of Northern Ireland”, it had me in tears for probably the whole second half of the movie! And I do love a good cry at the cinema.
The story kinda goes like this: A Hollywood big shot (and he knows it!), Josh Jenkins, (Emy Aneke) sweeps into Belfast to make a movie, but before long his world crashes and he loses everything. Lily, his hotel’s cleaner, (played by Olivia Nash) invites him to stay with her crazy family and gradually the people of this ‘strange’ city touch his heart, forever.
It’s a powerful story about the kindness of strangers and of how one man’s GOLIATH ego is brought down by one single blow...of GRACE! And the Grace in the movie is wonderfully played by the producer Joan Burney-Keatings’ daughter Savannah. With a superb home grown cast and cameos from Suranne Jones, Sally Lindsay and Bronagh Waugh (who plays a blinder with a flippin’ fantastic Portrush accent!) GRACE AND GOLIATH is set to be the family film of the year.
Tony Mitchell, Director, who has lived in Northern Ireland for the last ten years, explains why he wanted to get involved with GRACE AND GOLIATH: “In addition to the film’s redemptive storyline I felt the time was right to show a modern, progressive Belfast and breakaway from its historical ‘troubled’ past. As a ‘blow-in’ I see it differently and wanted to use that to focus on its beauty and less on its division. Secondly, here was a film from Northern Ireland with a mixed-race lead actor and several very strong female roles – it was our turn to embrace change.
“Lastly, and most importantly the ethos of Cinemagic is to train young people. In addition to our small highly skilled indie crew we had 48 young trainees shadowing our every move; a challenging prospect that turned out to be an amazing experience for everyone involved. I couldn’t imagine doing another film without them.”
Joan Burney Keatings MBE, producer and executive producer of GRACE AND GOLIATH, and Chief Executive of Cinemagic, the award-winning Belfast-based film and television charity for young people, added: “We are thrilled with the excitement and positive feedback, both locally and internationally, for our latest feature film GRACE AND GOLIATH. Private screenings earlier this year for industry representatives in Los Angeles and New York generated significant interest from distributors and international recognition for Cinemagic.
“The film showcases the beauty of Northern Ireland, its stunning landscape and also the genuine warmth, humour and spirit of the Northern Ireland people. We are unique in so many ways and this feature film captures and conveys our positivity."
“GRACE AND GOLIATH also offered young film trainees from Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and Los Angeles to take part in a unique Cinemagic training model. This pioneering model, which offers trainees invaluable practical, hands-on experience of working on a film, was initially designed for Cinemagic’s first feature film A CHRISTMAS STAR in 2014. Due to its huge success, it has been further developed and now incorporates a fantastic international element working with young trainees from Los Angeles.”
UK sales company Starline Entertainment recently picked up the rights to GRACE AND GOLIATH and will distribute the film internationally.
GRACE AND GOLIATH (Cert PG) will open in cinemas from Friday 5 October 2018 but meanwhile, you can watch the GRACE AND GOLIATH promotional trailer here https://youtu.be/YnYVXpQVtUc
Local cinemas showing the movie include Omniplex Banbridge; Omniplex Craigavon; Omniplex Dundonald; Omniplex Lisburn; Omniplex Omagh; IMC Ballymena; IMC Enniskillen; IMC Omagh; IMC Banbridge; IMC Newtownards; Movie House City Side; Movie House Dublin Road; Movie House Glengormley; Movie House Coleraine and Odyssey Belfast.
A series of school screenings will also be available across cinemas in Northern Ireland. For further information on this please contact your local cinema or film distributor Eclipse Pictures on firstname.lastname@example.org
Adrian Fulle, Executive Producer, Variety, the weekly American entertainment trade magazine and website, said: “For me, GRACE AND GOLIATH is one of those gems I never expected to find during my lifelong search for great stories. As a filmgoer and storyteller, I love everything about this movie; it's writing is top notch, the performances were outstanding, and it has such a strong heart that it's impossible to not love it. As a dad, it gave my daughter and I a very memorable experience we could bond over, and that was probably the most important thing for me.”
Ross King MBE, ITV TV host, commented: “Loved this movie, laughter, tears it has it all. A movie with a real heart!”