Colin Bateman (second from right) at the Venice Film Festival with actors Colm Meaney (third from left) and Timothy Spall (fifth from left), as well as director Nick Hamm (centre)
Award-winning author Colin Bateman, who attended Bangor Grammar School between 1973 and 1978, joined the stars – in his own right – at the Venice Film Festival on Wednesday past (7 September).
The Festival was the venue for the world premiere of The Journey, written by Colin and directed by Belfastman Nick Hamm. It is a fictionalised account of what previously implacable enemies Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness might have said to each other during their first one-to-one encounter, before going on to change the course of Northern Ireland’s history in their respect roles as DUP First Minister and Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister.
Little is known about the real-life ‘journey’ shared by the former loyalist firebrand and the former IRA commander in 2006, during negotiations for what became the St Andrew’s Agreement and at a time when they were said to be barely on speaking terms. However, according to Colin it was that lack of concrete information which made his job much easier.
Speaking to The Guardian newspaper, he said: “At the end of the day, all films based on historical events are fiction anyway – even documentaries. If you weren’t there, you’re just putting things together afterwards. This is drama: we’re not pretending it’s 100% fact; it’s a story that explores how things might have got to where they are today.”
Ian Paisley is portrayed in the film by Timothy Spall, perhaps best known for a recurring role in the Harry Potter films, while Colm Meaney, who plays the part of Martin McGuinness, appeared as Miles O’Brien in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.