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Cathair Ghonta tells the story of Belfast

Movie premiere heals wounds

By Paul Ainsworth

THE annual Belfast Film Festival is returning this month – and with it comes an exciting new Irish language documentary charting the history of the city over the last 100 years.The new film, titled ‘Cathair Ghonta’ (‘Wounded City’), is produced by Bóthar Ard, the filmmaking arm of the Belfast Media Group.

Commissioned by Irish Language channel TG4, Cathair Ghonta is making its debut in this year’s festival, before being screened on TG4 in the autumn.

Directed by Tom Seoighe, and narrated by young  Andersonstown Gaeilgeoir Ainle ó Cairealláin, the buzz among festival organisers is that the new documentary is a “stylish but hard-hitting” look at Belfast over the last century, and how it went from a booming industrial city, to war zone, and back to a city filled with promise.


Director Tom Seoighe said: “We are trying to present a balanced view of the city over the last 100 years, and wanted to show how it’s developed, especially in recent years, as it’s almost come full circle.

“During my own sporadic visits to the North over the years, it’s impossible for me not to notice just how much Belfast has changed for the better. Although we can’t ignore the Troubles, and they are a major part of the city’s recent history that will take up the middle third of our film, we were conscious that we would end the film with a real sense of optimism, to reflect the mood of Belfast today.

“It was a wounded city, as the title suggests, but as with most wounds, it is healing itself.”

The hour-long film features poignant and uplifting contributions from poet Gearóid Mac Lochlainn, singer Gráinne Holland and peace-builders Sammy Douglas and Fr Gerry Reynolds, as well as from Siobhán Cliontún, whose mother Theresa was shot dead in a 1994 loyalist gun attack on her Ormeau home, and Alan McBride, whose wife Sharon lost her life in the IRA’s Shankill fish shop bomb in 1993.

Cathair Ghonta will be screened at the new Museum Arts Centre on June 5, and will be followed by a question and answer session, featuring director Tom Seoighe and others who were involved in the making of the film.

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