Harrowing short scoops debut honour

Late festival award for local filmmaker

By Stephen McVey

A South Belfast filmmaker has expressed his delight as his directorial debut has belatedly won an award from the Belfast Film Festival. Malachy Campbell, from Donnybrook Street off the Lisburn Road is the writer and director of the new 2012 Best Short Film ‘Exhale’.

The award was granted in the aftermath of the recent festival, following the discovery by judges that the original winning film had not been produced in the necessary time frame.

‘Exhale’ follows the story of Kate, a young woman whose drug addiction has led to a life on the streets. As she struggles to survive another night she contemplates the events that have led her there and sinks to new lows seeking her next fix.

Michele Devlin, Belfast Film Festival Director praised the award winning short, which involved some of Northern Ireland’s brightest up and coming talents.

“In the winning film we saw outstanding perform­ances, as well as beautiful technical achievements – the storyline which examined the struggle young people can have with drugs was subtly handled and the film revealed a great directorial talent.”

Malachy, who works full-time in TV production, has worked on a number of programmes for production company Stirling, such as the BBC NI student drama ‘6Degrees’.

Speaking of the festival award, he said: “All involved in ‘Exhale’ are extremely happy and proud of winning the Belfast Film Festival Short Film Award. To win our home festival with our debut short is a huge honour.

“We wouldn’t have been able to pull this film off without the help of Northern Ireland Screen and all those who loaned us gear and gave us their time for free. We are extremely grateful and hope to continue our work and achieve more success with upcoming projects.”

South Belfast’s Ryan’s Bar and a Lisburn Road residence were two of the shooting locations for Exhale. Barry Mulligan, the owner of the private residence on Lisburn Avenue, was keen to help Malachy film in a suitable location.

“As a close friend of the director. I was aware that he was struggling to stick to the original budget, so I offered the use of my house as one of the location settings. The shoot only took a couple of hours and when I saw the final cut of the film I was extremely impressed with the cinematography and overall quality,” he said.

Malachy has several film ideas currently in develop­ment, and added: “Working on short films is a creative release for people who are also in junior positions on larger budget productions. Without NI Screen funding short films, people working on major productions as camera or sound assistants would not have the opportunity to progress and prove that they have the talent to step up to the next level.”

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