12 23 oct '21

'OMAGH' TO OPEN 31TH FILM FESTIVAL GHENT

17 Sep 2004

'Omagh' will be the opening night film of the 31th Flanders International Film Festival - Ghent. The film about the bloody bomb blast in a busy shopping area of Omagh in North-Ireland, is written by Paul Greengrass and Guy Hibbert. Greengrass also directed 'Bloody Sunday' and 'The Bourne Supremacy'. Pete Travis directed and will introduce his movie at the festival.

Although the Flanders International Film Festival - Ghent has by no means gone for the easiest option, its choice is certainly cinematically sound. Omagh is a powerful film that moves all who see it.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = 'urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office' />

The film reconstructs the events and aftermath of August 15, 1998 when the hardcore IRA carried out an attack in the busy shopping centre of the Northern Irish town of Omagh. Despite prior warnings, the attack claimed 31 lives. What exactly went wrong was examined thoroughly at the time, but is still a subject of discussion, especially because it seemed as though the police had driven shoppers toward rather than away from the vehicle that contained the bomb. Investigators pointed the finger at the chief of police in Omagh, who denied all accusations.

One thing that is certain is that the perpetrators were a small group of dissidents from the Provisional IRA - the Real IRA - who wanted to boycott the peace process in Northern Ireland. In a move to undermine relations between London and Dublin, the Unionists withdrew from the peace process. As a result of this, Northern Ireland once more descended into a spiral of violence. The group selected its target carefully: Omagh, a symbolic town where inhabitants had demonstrated for decades that Catholics and Protestants could indeed live together peacefully.

The central character of the film is Michael Gallagher. He lost his 21-year-old son Aiden in the attack and has since become the spokesman of the Omagh Self Help and Support Group. Omagh describes the events and the aftermath of the tragic day and focuses in particular on the fight for justice of the Self Help and Support Group, an organisation consisting mainly of relatives of the victims. They are determined to discover the truth and have been pursuing a patient, determined, indomitable campaign to bring to justice those responsible for the bomb.

Screenwriter and producer Peter Greenglass, who is noted for that other film about the British-Irish conflict Bloody Sunday as well as for The Bourne Supremacy, spent three years on research and consultation with the residents of Omagh in preparation of this film. Gerard McSorley plays the leading part. McSorley also appeared in Braveheart (1995), The Boxer (1997), Felicia's Journey (1999), Angela's Ashes (1999), Bloody Sunday (2002) and Veronica Guerin (2003).

The 31st edition of the Flanders International Film Festival - Ghent will take place from October 5 to 16 inclusive and will focus on South African cinema. The Festival programme will be announced on September 22. As from September 22 the programme can be consulted on the Festival's website (www.filmfestival.be) or in the free Focus Knack Special programme guide.

The opening film will be shown on Tuesday October 5 at Kinepolis Ghent and Capitole. After the Festival, Omagh will be distributed in Belgium by CineArt. Ticket sales start on September 27 at FNAC Ghent (070 225 225) and on the Festival website www.filmfestival.be.

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