Andrew Moore on Terry George’s new short, The Shore, at the Belfast Film Festival 2011.
There was no better way to kick off the 2011 Belfast Film Festival, for myself, than the world première of, globally acclaimed Northern Irish film-maker, Terry George’s new short, The Shore. After years of striking big in Hollywood with such excellent releases as the Oscar-nominated, In The Name of The Father and Hotel Rwanda, George returns to his home country for a genuinely heart-warming comedy drama.
The story revolves around Irishman, Jim Mahon (Ciaran Hinds) who fled the country for the USA 25 years prior, after The Troubles kicked off in the province. Once he returns with his daughter by his side, he reunites with past friends and loved ones as well as facing various personal demons and moral dilemmas, which haunted him from the moment he left.
Terry George does a brilliant job of letting you really engage with these, eccentric and all-too-familiar characters in the brief 30 minute running time. However, I think with the central character especially, a lot of this almost magical wonder can be attributed to the deeply personal and down-to-earth performance of the brilliant Ciaran Hinds, a truly under-appreciated actor on the world stage today.
Furthermore, the film served as a brilliant demonstration of how the country has moved on in the past 30 years while still not forgetting its somewhat rich and chequered past that came before it. That said, never let history get in the way of a good story, and with The Shore it truly didn’t. From the moment the cameras rolled there was an element of intrigue and tension, but in keeping with the spirit of the majority of people in Northern Ireland. There was also a lot of knowing humour thrown into the mix, especially in a truly fantastic scene involving four of the characters running from a lady on a horse – who is mistaken for a dole officer – across a beach, which needs to be seen to be believed.
Despite George himself admitting as such in the Q&A which followed the film, you could instantly tell he invested a lot of himself and his own personal memories of the area into the film. This wasn’t just a movie set in Northern Ireland. This was a film about Northern Ireland by a man who understands the country and also understands that the majority of locals just live for having a bit of craic (the word ‘craic’, to any readers out of town, is our way of saying, ‘having a fun time’). Visually it was an extremely tidy feature, beautifully lush and extremely pleasurable to witness on screen.
Terry George returns home to give audiences a truly heart-warming tale of reuniting with past friends and loved ones, as well as facing up to personal woes and unfinished business before it’s too late. The only real complaint? It was too bloody short – yes, being a short film that is kind of the point, I know. This was the best Northern Irish film in a long time, once again demonstrating the immense amount of resources the country can give to cinema; outside of features simply based on the Troubles, and a ship which is famous for sinking on its maiden voyage. More please…