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Entertainment From Bloodlands to Belfast: How 2021 became a success story for Northern Ireland on film and TV

09:41  22 december  2021
09:41  22 december  2021 Source:   belfastlive.co.uk

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With triumphs across film and TV, Northern Ireland Screen has hailed 2021 as "another great year" for filming here.

The group has hailed the fact that Northern Ireland managed to attract major US studios - including Netflix - to film here, despite the challenges of the pandemic.

They also praised the work of local cast, creatives and crew, as they set the bar for filmmaking here.

Speaking about the success of 2021, Richard Williams, Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Screen, said he was "extremely proud" of the filming achievements here.

He remarked: “As we look back on 2021, I am extremely proud of what the screen industry has accomplished both on and off camera. A variety of content we supported has been selected for some of the most prestigious festivals across the world, picked up much-coveted industry awards and set social media alight."

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Northern Ireland on TV in 2021

Among the biggest achievement on TV this year were Line of Duty and Bloodlands. Line of Duty's season 6 finale became the most-watched drama in the UK since records began, while Bloodlands broke records for being the most-watched local BBC drama in Northern Irish history.

Commenting on their success, and the buzz that was brought to Northern Ireland by having A-listers here, Richard continued: "We have had two of the biggest TV dramas of the year broadcast; Line of Duty and Bloodlands . There was a great sense of excitement as a whole host of A-list stars were spotted across the country as they filmed at various locations."

  From Bloodlands to Belfast: How 2021 became a success story for Northern Ireland on film and TV © World Productions/BBC One/PA Wire

Richard also confirmed that the second season of Bloodlands will begin filming in early 2022.

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On the TV front, he added: "The year got off to an excellent start with a whole host of content made in Northern Ireland hitting the small screen. The third series of crime drama Marcella, starring Emmy award-winning Anna Friel as an undercover detective in Belfast, captivated ITV viewers."

Mr Williams also spoke of the successful productions which were also shot in Northern Ireland, including Frank of Ireland , starring Brian and Domhnall Gleeson, the WWII drama The Windermere Children , and Three Families , on the campaign to change Northern Ireland's abortion laws.

He also praised the new local police drama, Hope Street , which is currently airing on BBC One NI.

a group of people standing in front of a building: New BBC and Britbox police drama, Hope Street, was filmed in the seaside town of Donaghadee. © BBC Northern Ireland New BBC and Britbox police drama, Hope Street, was filmed in the seaside town of Donaghadee.

"The 10-part series, filmed in Donaghadee, is set in the fictional town of Port Devine on the Northern Ireland coast and focuses on the town’s police department and the mysterious arrival of an English Detective Constable. The drama created by local woman Susanne Farrell features a host of Northern Ireland talent both in front of and behind the camera."

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Northern Ireland on film in 2021

With dozens of A-listers landing in Northern Ireland in 2021, NI Screen's Chief Executive pointed to the success of Belfast Harbour Studios and Titanic Studios, in providing a filming location for mega-productions.

He said: "2021 was another busy year for our film studios with Belfast Harbour Studios becoming home to Netflix while Titanic Studios was occupied by Paramount Pictures.

"Many A-list celebrities were spotted enjoying the beautiful Northern Ireland scenery and were sharing it with their followers on social media as filming got underway for The School for Good and Evil - starring Kerry Washington, Charlize Theron and Laurence Fishburne - and Dungeons & Dragons - Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Hugh Grant and Regé-Jean Page."

Kerry Washington in costume in The School of Good and Evil © Kerry Washington/Twitter Kerry Washington in costume in The School of Good and Evil

He added: "Both studios are already booked up for much of 2022 with more exciting projects on the way."

Independent filmmakers also found success with their productions in Northern Ireland this year, with crime film Black Medicine , horror-comedy Boys From County Hell , and family drama Nowhere Special all getting their release this year.

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Elsewhere, Wildfire , the debut feature from Newry-native Cathy Brady, saw audiences in awe at the acting abilities of the late Nika McGuigan.

Richard said: "Wildfire opened in cinemas in September. Wildfire tells the story of “Irish twins” Lauren and Kelly and their life on the fractious Irish border. Cathy picked up the Best Director Film Award at the IFTAs and the Debut Screenwriter Award at the BIFAs."

One of the big filming highlights in Northern Ireland came late in the year, with the runaway success of Kenneth Branagh's Belfast . As we head into awards season, Richard spoke about the impact the film had locally.

Speaking about its premiere in Belfast, he said: "It was a privilege to co-host the Irish premiere of Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast in Belfast, with Belfast Film Festival. With the film already leading the way in the Golden Globes and hotly tipped for the Oscars, 2022 is sure to get off to a great start.

Jamie Dornan, Ciaran Hinds, Jude Hill and Judi Dench in Belfast © Rob Youngson / Focus Features Jamie Dornan, Ciaran Hinds, Jude Hill and Judi Dench in Belfast

He added: "The film is a poignant story of love, laughter and loss in one boy’s childhood, amid the social and political tumult of the late 1960s. It stars Caitríona Balfe, Judi Dench, Jamie Dornan, Ciarán Hinds and introduces 10-year-old Northern Ireland actor Jude Hill. The film, recently nominated for seven Golden Globes and eleven Critics Choice Awards, opens in cinemas on 21 st January."

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Here's what to look forward to in 2022:

As we head into the New Year, NI Screen has given us a peek at what we can expect to see on our screens in 2022.

Touting a new Northern Irish police drama, Richard Williams said: "There is more police drama in the pipeline with BBC commissioning Blue Lights, an original series created by Northern Ireland writer-directors Adam Patterson and Declan Lawn ( The Sailsbury Poisonings) . Based on extensive research and interviews, and told with a caustic wit, the series was inspired by the experiences of serving police officers in Northern Ireland. Blue Lights will begin filming in early 2022."

That's not all that's in store. The final season of Derry Girls , the internationally-anticipated Conversations With Friends , and new rom-com, are all set to be released in 2022.

Richard continued: "The third and final series of Lisa McGee’s Derry Girls is currently filming and is sure to be another huge hit with viewers when it is broadcast on Channel 4 in 2022.

"Sally Rooney’s much-anticipated Conversations with Friends, which was partly filmed on location in Northern Ireland this year will also be released in 2022.

" And Tom Jones , the 'mother of all romcoms', was filmed in and around Belfast in autumn 2021. Solly McLeod ( The Rising) stars as the hero, Tom, alongside Sophie Wilde ( You Don’t Know Me) as the heroine, Sophia Western. The four-part television miniseries from Mammoth Screen for ITV and Masterpiece reimagines Henry Fielding’s novel, The History of Tom Jones.

Why Belfast was released in US cinemas first .
The film is set to be released here on January 21 Based on Kenneth Branagh's early life in Belfast, the film follows 9 year old Buddy (played by newcomer Jude Hill), who tries to juggle school, friends and girl troubles with the onset of the troubles in Northern Ireland in the late '60s.

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