29 March 2006

Belfast film charts ring's sad story


Filming has begun in Belfast of an epic love story based around tragic events in the city during World War II.

Closing the Ring begins in 1942 when an American B-17 bomber crashed into the city's Cavehill while returning to its Northern Ireland base.

The film concerns a B-17 gunner's dying wish

The story centres on a gunner in the plane's dying wish to have a gold ring returned to his girlfriend in America.

The film is being directed by Lord Attenborough and stars include Shirley MacLaine and Pete Postlethwaite.

Also in the film are Mischa Barton from TV's OC, Brenda Fricker and Christopher Plummer.

Producer Jo Gilbert said some of the stars of the film would arrive for filming in the next three weeks, but added that those who were already in Belfast were very impressed.

"The ones who have arrived have just gone- 'this place is just wonderful, everyone's so friendly and it's great we never knew it was like this'.

"Because they don't. They don't realise that Belfast is one of the most burgeoning, fantastic cities in north west Europe. They love it," she said.

The film is set in Belfast and North Carolina.

The gunner's gold ring is discovered by a young Belfast man 50 years after its owner's death and the film follows him as he tracks the gunner's girlfriend and the history of the ring.

The film is loosely-based on real events following the crash of an American bomber which was returning to its base in Nutts Corner near Antrim.

Lord Attenborough is directing the film

"This landmark co-production with Canada marks an incredible opportunity for the film industry of Northern Ireland," Jo Gilbert added.

"To have a British film icon like Richard Attenborough, and actors and filmmakers the calibre of Shirley MacLaine and (cinematographer) Roger Pratt filming this movie here in Belfast with local crew and actors is a phenomenal achievement for this community.

"In addition to forging a new and strong link with Canada, it will show the rest of the world that Northern Ireland has a vibrant film industry and that we are indeed, open for business."

Closing the Ring will be shot on location in Belfast and at the new Titanic Studios, and in Toronto in Canada.

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