On Wednesday 19th June, The Office of the Northern Ireland Executive in Brussels was delighted to welcome back screenwriter and author Colin Bateman. Hailing from County Down, Colin had previously visited Brussels in 2014 for the Brussels Book Fair, and it was great to have him back in the Office to introduce his 2017 film ‘The Journey’.
Colin introduced the film by explaining the ‘journey’ behind ‘The Journey’ – producers had struggled to find a screenwriter willing to create a script around the events of the St Andrew’s Agreement, and the relationship between the Reverend Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness. However, inspired by the subsequent media coverage of the unexpected friendship between the late former First and Deputy First Ministers, Mr Bateman wasn’t afraid to incorporate his famously witty writing style into a story imagining the first real interactions between the two men.
While enjoying the film, the audience tucked into food and beverages from Northern Ireland – ‘Pop-notch’ gourmet pop-corn, cider from Longmeadow Cider and the Armagh Cider Company, as well as beers from Clearsky Brewery and Hilden Brewery. The audience enjoyed the film – described by the reviewers as ‘a remarkable mixture of light and darkness’ – and took the opportunity to ask Colin about the production of the film and the wider film industry. Colin also regaled the audience with stories from the set and of his interactions with stars such as Liam Neeson.
Colin explained to the audience that, while some critics argued the film is historically inaccurate in parts, ‘The Journey’ tells a fictional story that was never intended to be a documentary! He noted that history doesn’t come in neat three act scripts to be portrayed on screen, and ‘The Journey’ uses an imagined situation to explore the essence of the friendship between the Reverend Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness.