Review: The Survivalist


DIR/WRI: Stephen Fingleton • PRO: David Gilbery, Wayne Marc Godfrey, Robert Jones • DOP: Damien Elliott • ED: Mark Towns • DES: Dick Lunn • CAST: Olwen Fouere, Mia Goth, Martin McCann, Andrew Simpson

Stephen Fingleton’s debut feature The Survivalist follows his award-winning short SLR and Magpie. Indeed, the feature is set in the same post-apocalyptic world of the latter short in which oil dependency and food supplies plummeting create a cut-throat world that is nearly impossible to survive in. Like Magpie, The Survivalist takes place in an ambient forest which is luscious in its green colour yet haunted by death.

A young man’s body is buried in the woods by a mysterious figure in a thick green anorak. We follow the figure to the cabin in which he lives and intrigue continues to grow as we see his everyday means of living. The film evokes much Western iconography in its initial focus on the lone hero, his wooden cabin, the referencing of The Searchers in alluding to its famous doorway shot, and the deserted wilderness setting that surrounds the Survivalist. This first section of the film contains no dialogue and Martin McCann (My Boy Jack, Swansong: Story of Occi Byrne) is subtle and assured in his performance of the leading unnamed character. Our hero is efficient at making fires and growing food, even using his own bodily fluids so nothing goes to waste. However, he is lonely and constantly fearful as can be seen when he anxiously looks around him while he hastily washes some distance from his cabin retreat.

The film’s universe is characterised by paranoia, which continues when two women come to the Survivalist for help. The older, mystifying Kathryn (Olwen Fouere), offers her teenage daughter, the quiet but tough Milja (Mia Goth), to spend the night with him in exchange for food and shelter. They gradually become accepted into the Survivalist’s cabin and his way of life but the women plot to get rid of him so that they can have his crops for themselves, and there are further dangers in store for all three.

Fingleton, who also wrote the script, paints a brutal landscape of hardship and violence. Without giving too much away, its stand-out scene takes place in the rushes when the Survivalist goes in search for Milja, who is missing. Damien Elliott’s cinematography captures a gripping moment and will have you holding your breath in anticipation.

The Survivalist is a raw film and fairly difficult to watch at times. The graphic imagery includes full frontal (male and female) nudity, rotting flesh, maggots, masturbation, periods, and bloody internal organs. It is one of the more original post-apocalyptic films to be released as of late and is a curiously thought-provoking one at that, but its bleakness will not appeal to all audiences.

Deirdre Molumby

 18 (See IFCO for details)

 103 minutes

The Survivalist is released 12th February 2016

The Survivalist – Official Website




Video: Olaf Tyaransen Interviews Martin McCann



In this video interview from the Galway Film Fleadh, Martin McCann talks about Oscar-nominated short film Boogaloo and Graham, which screened at last year’s festival, getting his accent right for Killing Bono, and his involvement  in Stephen Fingleton’s debut feature, The Survivalist, which screened this year. Martin also looks back at his early days of acting and gives aspiring actors a few tips.



Cinema Review: Jump


DIR: Kieron J. Walsh • WRI: Steve Brookes, Kieron J. Walsh • PRO: Brendan J. Byrne • DOP: David Rom • ED: Emer Reynolds • DES: David Craig • Cast: Nichola Burley, Martin McCann, Charlene McKenna, Ciarán McMenamin

It’s a real testament to how far Northern Ireland has come that a film like Jump has been made. It’s set exclusively in the North – Derry, to be exact – and there isn’t a single reference to the IRA, the UVF, the Troubles. Not only that, it doesn’t feel like there’s a pink elephant in the room. None of the characters are haunted by memories of that time, there are no former terrorists looking to go straight, no mention of it at all. With Jump, you merely accept the fact that Northern Ireland and its cinema has moved on from it.


The story takes place on New Year’s Eve and follows four ‘twenty-somethings’ and their individual problems and hang-ups. Marie (Charlene McKenna) and Dara (Valene Kane) play two young women, stuck in a rut working McJobs whilst yearning to escape the city and emigrate to Australia. Johnny, played by Good Vibrations’ Richard Dormer, is a washed-up former criminal who’s drinking himself into an early grave whilst racked with guilt. Pearse and Greta, Martin McCann and Nichola Burley respectively, play two young people with an apparent death-wish; although one is more overt than the other. Over the course of the film, these stories entangle and, naturally, come to a head. The story and character echo late 90’s comedy-crime thriller Go, but with an obvious Irish twist.


Kieron J. Walsh’s direction is confident, slick and assured and working with a tightly-written script, there’s little error to be found in the film. The break-neck pacing, interspersed with jump-cuts to each individual story, is great to see. Too often, Irish films are shackled with a slow-burn ethos and very little sense of fun or humour. Jump deftly breaks this cycle and makes something that is fun, relevant and enjoyable to watch. There are no morose-looking countrysides, no dead-eyed piece-to-camera monologues involving the death of the Irish way of life – here, it’s fast, fun and energetic; something Irish cinema desperately needs.


The cast, made up of TV actors, all fill out their performances with varying levels of quality but maintain a minimum standard. The chemistry between Marie and Dara is spot-on, mixing the vapid desires of partying and escape with a real sense of underlying sadness. Richard Dormer’s character is a little bit hammy in places, but the fault is more in the dialogue than his own performance. However, it’s a small complaint in an otherwise strong performance. Primeval‘s Ciaran McMenamin, playing Ross – the man charged with following Dormer’s character around to ensure he works – compliments Dormer’s performance. The one area where Jump falls down is the story between Pearse and Greta. In a sense, it is the catalyst for the whole story but it feels more like it was tacked on as an afterthought. Likewise, the performance from Nichola Burley is a little bit unconvincing in places. Still, overall the characters and actors portraying them have filled out their roles with real effort.
In all, Jump is an entertaining drama with strains of black comedy and thriller moments. It’s not exactly memorable, but like all good parties, when you’re in it, it’s the best fun you’ll have.

15A (see IFCO website for details)

80 mins
Jump is released on 26th April 2013



Interview: Shadow Dancer’s Martin McCann talks to Film Ireland

Shadow Dancer is released in cinemas today Friday, 24th August 2012, here in full is Gemma Creagh’s interview with Martin McCann from the current autumn 2012 issue of Film Ireland magazine.

Yes we McCann

Gemma Creagh chats with Belfast actor Martin McCann about being Bono, his buddies and his role in James Marsh’s Shadow Dancer, which closes this year’s Fleadh.


So how did you get into acting?

When I was ten or eleven, I auditioned for a role in the Arts Theatre inBelfastfor the Artful Dodger. I’d never really done much acting before – other than entertaining the family and imitating my favourite characters from television. I got the part and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I was well and truly bitten by the bug of acting!


Tell me about your work with the Youth Action theatre in Belfast.

The Rainbow Factory was a cross-community project bringing Catholic and Protestant kids together through drama inNorthern Ireland. I joined when I was twelve years of age. I was just another one of the kids from West Belfast. I’m still with them today but obviously I got a bit older and my career took more of a serious turn and they asked me to be a patron. It certainly opened me up as a young man. It was one of the best things I’ve done. It kept me on track and kept my interest in drama alive.


You worked on the sketch show, Dry Your Eyes. Would you have done much improv on that?

No, to be honest. [Laughs] It was all scripted, but it felt like it was improv. I knew all the guys; we got together and did it as a bunch of friends. The Hole in the Wall Gang were very popular from Give My Head Peace. That was one of the most, if not the most successful show in Northern Ireland at that time. I had never really seen myself as a comedy sketch show actor but I just loved it. It was one of the most fun projects I was ever involved in. It was basically just dressing up in silly clothes and being as funny as you can.


Do you have anything you would like to bury under the carpet?

Thankfully no! I’ve never done any ads where I had to dress in a chicken suit to sell chicken burgers or anything. I’ve been fortunate enough to avoid that.


Film or theatre?

Film work is better paid, that’s always a benefit. I mean it is a job. But nothing quite compares to the feeling that you have on stage; it’s live, it’s organic. To be a theatre actor, it’s a definite way of life.


What do you do to prepare yourself for a part?

You have to be in the right mind frame and you have to really believe in what you’re doing. Trust the director and enjoy the story. Sit down with the script and work out what you have to do at each point. It sounds simple, but it’s actually just doing your homework.


Which was your most challenging role to play?

I think The Pacific because I was playing a six-foot-three, stoic Texan, whereas I’m a five-foot-seven, energetic Irish lad. So that was a bit of stretch for me. I was quite young. I would have loved to have gotten that role a couple of years later – but that’s just the way it goes sometimes.


What’s it like going from homegrown productions such as Swansong, Killing Bono and Titanic: Blood and Steel to the likes of HBO’s The Pacific?

The Pacific was a really unique experience in the sense that it was so big. There were so many people involved and it was over such a long period in time – almost a year in Australia – but when all that is scaled down it’s just the same as any other job. You’re an actor with a bunch of actors and you’re working with a director. All the rest of it is just secondary, certainly from my point of view.


How did you get that role?

A lot of people thought Richard Attenborough called Steven Spielberg and got him to give me the role. What actually happened was that I auditioned in London five or six times and then auditioned twice in LA. I put my thinking cap on and phoned up Richard Attenborough’s assistant. I got the assistant to ask Richard to send Seven Spielberg some stuff that I had done to better my chances in getting the role.


Did you enjoy winning the IFTA?

I genuinely forget until I’m asked about winning the IFTA. I sometimes think: ‘Really? Did they really give that to me?’ It was lovely, brilliant and an honour to be recognised by the Irish film industry as a young actor. It’ll definitely be a night I’ll never forget and I’m glad that it happened. I really am.


Do you ever get recognised?

Ah, occasionally. It feels weird. ‘I know you from somewhere!’ is usually the statement. You don’t want to say: ‘Oh, TV’ because you sound like an idiot. You just kinda shake their hand and move on. It’s nice – not too bad at all.


With your varying roles you’ve certainly not been typecast.

My wish is to become a really good character actor. I love changing my voice or my physicality a little bit. I find a lot a fun in that.


Your Bono in Killing Bono was uncanny!

I had a great time during that, I really did. With Ben and Robbie and the director Nick, it was just four lads having a laugh, making a film at the same time. It was really good.


The subject matter of Shadow Dancer is quite close to home. What did you make of the film?

Usually you watch films about the Troubles and you go: ‘That wouldn’t have happened. That definitely wouldn’t have happened.’ But watching this film back there’s not one moment that seemed fake. Every piece of it, every part of this film could conceivably happen and probably has happened.


It’s a character-driven, real old-fashioned-style thriller with the pace of a modern film. I haven’t a terribly big part in it but it’s nice to be a part of something that’s really good.


What was it like working with James?

Honestly? The sweetest man on the planet. There was a scene where my character is dead and he’s in a coffin. And I think James thought that I was maybe a little bit uncomfortable, so James got in first just to break the ice. It’s not often a director does that, or needs to do that, but James was that kind of guy.


What is next on the cards?

I’ve got two films lined up fortunately enough. They’ll be starting in August/September and that’ll take me through to 2013. In Apples and Oranges I play a young artist who travels fromIreland toAmerica and gets into trouble by forging really expensive artwork – it’s a comedy.


And Tainted Love is the story of a very troubled young woman that makes my character fall in love with her, to his detriment. She pulls the wool over his eyes. It has a big twisty-turny vibe with troubled young characters – again. [Laughs].


Definitely one to watch, Martin McCann is also currently featuring alongside Charlene McKenna in Jump and in Terry George’s Whole Lotta Sole.


Shadow Dancer is released in cinemas Friday, 24th August 2012.

Read Julie Nicholl-Stimpson’s review of Shadow Dancer here



Feature Documentary ‘Defining Moment’ Nominated in Two Categories at Action on Film International Film Festival in Los Angeles

Ultra-running feature documentary Defining Moment is nominated in two categories; Best Documentary and Best Cinematography at the Action on Film International Film Festival which runs from August 17-25th in Monrovia, Los Angeles.

It is screening in the Krikorian Theatre in Monrovia, Los Angeles on the 21 August at 6.00pm.

Defining Moment is a fascinating case of one person, John O’Regan, against the elements.  What are the ingredients that make an ultra runner go through such grueling mental and physical pain?  How is an ultra runner different from a marathon runner?

Shot on location in Ireland, Greece, UK,  French Alps, Sahara Desert, The North Pole, Antarctica and theYukon Territory, this intriguing documentary reveals what makes him tick using the background story of his participation in the 2010 “Spartathlon”.  Four hundred and fifty of the world’s top ultra runners passed the stringent entry criteria for the 246km non-stop race, but just 128 crossed the finish line within the 36 hour limit.


Cinemagic Belfast Launch 21st Festival Programme


Movie enthusiasts can look forward to a colourful feast of films in November as the Coca-Cola Cinemagic International Film and Television Festival for Young People launches its highly anticipated 21st festival programme, that includes more than 100 films from around the world, many of which are UK/Irish special previews and over 60 workshops, competitions, masterclasses and exciting film related events. The Coca-Cola Cinemagic Festival, funded by Northern Ireland Screen supported by DCAL, opens in Belfast on 16th November and runs for 17 action packed days and nights until 2nd December 2011.

Cinemagic will be welcoming a host of both international and local industry professionals to the Festival such as highly acclaimed film music composer Patrick Doyle,(Thor, Rise of The Planet of the Apes), Belfast actor, Martin McCann (Killing Bono, Clash of the Titans), BFI associate tutor and Alfred Hitchcock historian, Sandra Shevy, BAFTA award-winning director, Aisling Walsh, (Song for a Raggy Boy, Wallander),Oscar-nominated  writer Tim Loane (Dance Lexie Dance), Coleraine actress Michelle Fairley (Best: His Mother’s Son, Game of Thrones), costume designer, Susan Scott (Parked, Cupcake), and returning for a sixth consecutive year, respected film critic and broadcaster Mark Kermode will be ‘in conversation’ with the Belfast audiences ahead of a screening of The Buddy Holly Story and a special book signing.

Joan Burney Keatings, Cinemagic Chief Executive said ‘Cinemagic is extremely proud to present its 21st Festival offering a huge range for film and television events for young people. Funded by Northern Ireland Screen supported by DCAL and with Title Sponsor Coca-Cola, and all sponsors, Cinemagic is able to create new opportunities for young people through moving image and in doing so, inspire, motivate and educate.’

Richard Williams,CEO,Northern IrelandScreen said: ‘Northern Ireland Screen is delighted to see the eclectic programme of screenings and educational events at the Cinemagic Film Festival inBelfastthis year for the young people ofNorthern Ireland.  Through our continued core funding, supported by DCAL, Northern Ireland Screen acknowledges the Cinemagic Film Festival inBelfastas a key component in our efforts to achieve our goal of making a significant contribution to film culture, education and training. We send our sincerest good wishes to Joan and her team for another successful festival.’

Gillian Shields, Coca-ColaHBCNorthern Ireland Ltd, added ‘Coca-Cola is proud to sponsor the Cinemagic International Film and Television Festival for Young People and to support the valuable work of Cinemagic once again this year. This year’s festival will provide participants with the opportunity to gain exciting and practical experience in many arts based disciplines, using the magic of film and moving images to inspire and fuel creativity.

Coca-Cola is delighted to support activities for the 12 – 25 age group such as the exciting range of movie screenings and the Talent Lab masterclass programme for 16-26 year olds, which provides a fantastic opportunity for young people to learn and gain experience from industry experts. I would like to congratulate Cinemagic on another action packed programme and wish everyone participating a very enjoyable and rewarding 21st Anniversary festival.’




Festival Films




Gala Screenings


The Opening night film, The Wizard of Oz, voted Northern Ireland’s favourite film in a 2010 Cinemagic poll will delight young audiences and bring back fond childhood memories for others! A special preview of Happy Feet 2 3D, from Warner Bros will bring viewers back to the magnificent landscape of Antarctica and the Closing night of the film programme will be marked with a special preview of Puss In Boots 3D from DreamWorks Animation and Paramount Pictures.




Family Films


New films such as animated French made mystery, A Cat in Paris; Will, based on a young Liverpool football fan who journeys across Europe for the 2005 Champions League Final; Danish made adventure, The Great Bear and 2010 Oscar nominated The Secret of Kells will fascinate young people and parents alike.




World Cinema


Previews from around the world will guide viewers in a cultural whistle-stop tour of countries such Germany, America, Kenya, Iceland, Norway, Hollandand Russia. Highlights include Another Earth, Lost in Africa, Winter’s Daughter, Jess and Moss, Jitters, The Secret Letter.




Documentary, Anniversary Screening, Student Film Night


From stories of a traveling circus to Brazilian surfers, boxing and elephant whisperers’, film fans eager to see this year’s documentaries will not be disappointed! Do not miss Circus Dreams, Rio Breaks, In Sunshine or In Shadow, which documents the true story behind the epic 1985 featherweight title match, between Barry McGuigan and Eusebio Pedroza; and Chandani: Daughter of The Elephant Whisperer. Comedy western, City Slickers, returns to the big screen as it celebrates its 20th Anniversary this year; and students can enjoy a cult classic as The Outsiders features in the special student film night event.




Anime, Classics, Boy’s Own Adventures, Rewind at the Strand


In partnership with We Love Anime, the festival is proud to present six latest and greatest anime films. Classic movies include Meet me in St Louis and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and there is a chance to see all time favourite thrilling classics back on the silver screen such as The Poseidon Adventure, Towering Inferno, Planet of the Apes, Forbidden Planet, King Kong and Dracula!




Education programme


Cinemagic’s comprehensive education programme allows young people through their teachers to avail of opportunities in an outstanding range of film and television disciplines.The opening day events include a preview of thrilling, animated mystery, A Cat in Paris and a special HBO Game of Thrones showcase (Please note this event is for young people aged 16+).




Workshops and special events include BBFC Film Classification, Mapping the Weather with BBC NI’s Cecilia Daly, History Live-The Vikings, Charles Dickens Showcase, Comic Workshop with Captain Wonder Cartoons, BAFTA Inside the World of Horrible Histories, HBO Showcase, UTV Presenting with Tina Campbell and Paul Clark, Spanish short film showcase, Playing Shakespeare, Film Music Composition, Creative Storytelling, Irish Language Filmmaking, Introduction to World Cinema and Jury’s Out film reviewing!






Young people who are keen to get an inside track on the media industry can do just that as the hugely popular Talent Lab event returns. Promising to be a fantastic mix of creativity and learning, the Talent Lab and Masterclasses include Writing and Directing for Film, Makeup for Film & Television, Casting, Costume Design, Acting, Screenwriting Film Production and TV Commissioning with Waddell Media.




Special Events and Competitions


The Festival Jury is open to young people aged, 10-18, passionate about film watching and reviewing and jury members will announce the winning festival films at the Gala Awards Ceremony in Belfast City Hall on 1st December. The festival is also running its ever popular Songs from the Movies and Cinemagic Stars acting workshops, as well as searching for talented young filmmakers for its new ‘Cast Away’ podcast challenge, themed on the Titanic, which is being run in association with Titanic Belfast in the lead up to 2012, Titanic’s centenary year.




Venues in Belfast include Queen’s Film Theatre, Odeon, Strand Cinema,BMC, Europa, Ulster Museum, Crescent Arts Centre and new venues include Omniplex cinemas, Odyssey cinemas, Culturlann, The Black Box and The Spectrum Centre. The Coca-Cola Cinemagic Film and Television Festival is working in partnership with organisations such as Save The Children, Friends of The Earth, Belfast Zoo, Ulster Wildlife Trust, Lagan Legacy Barge, Belfast Youth Circus, The Ulster Orchestra and Exploris


To view the Coca-Cola Cinemagic Festival Programme and advance book film tickets online visit


Film tickets can also be purchased in person at the Festival Box Office, Belfast Welcome Centre, 47 Donegall Place, Belfast or by telephoning 028 90 24 66 09. Tickets for films will also be available on the door of participating cinemas subject to availability.


To Book Workshops and Masterclasses visit


Telephone Cinemagic 028 90 311 900


Please note Workshops and Masterclasses are open to young people aged 4-26 and the public film programme is open to all ages.