A new film about Belfast’s Holylands district is set for release next year and with cameos from country music star Nathan Carter and professional boxer Tyrone McKenna, the Co Fermanagh director “can’t wait” to bring the student district’s story to audiences outside NI.
Eddie Duffy said he was “surprised” no one had made a film about the bustling university region before.
But now his own coming-of-age creation, The Unholylands, is slated for release in late 2023. The 24-year-old’s inspiration? Fawlty Towers.
“I was obsessed with Fawlty Towers, especially when I was in my second year [of uni]- explained the film studies graduate.
“I feel like the Holy Land is something that everyone can relate to, no matter who you are or what age you are. I had this idea of doing a comedy movie set in and around one house – kind of like Fawlty Towers – just to see how much chaos we could have in one night. That’s where a lot of the comedy comes from.”
The Queen’s University graduate left south Belfast two years ago and has spent most of that time writing and planning The Unholylands, which centers on two half-brothers in the final weeks of their law degrees.
“She follows them as they transition and leave this crazy party life they’re so used to for a new life. They come to terms with growing up, becoming adults, working five days a week, wearing suits and having jobs and responsibilities,” Paddy explained.
One of the main characters, Michael, is played by Belfast actor Ciaran McCourt.
“I had never experienced life in the Holy Land because I was at university in Manchester, so it was like my own little experience,” he told the Belfast Telegraph.
Country singer Nathan Carter and west Belfast fighter Tyrone McKenna, who both have separate roles in the upcoming film, were also able to survive the film.
“I’ve never been to the Holy Land before, so it was nice to see the place for the first time,” Nathan said. “And I’ve never acted in a movie before, so this is my debut!
“It’s been a pleasure to be a part of and I’m sure this is the start of great things for Paddy and the team.”
Tyrone, who never went to university, admitted that he and his friends often went to Holylands to party, noting that “it’s a crazy place”.
“We were never invited,” he laughed. “We went into a bar and then landed — it’s an experience. If you’re from Belfast, you need to visit the Holy Land at least once in your life.’
The 32-year-old’s fighting nickname is “The Mighty Celt” due to his brief role in the childhood film of the same name, which starred Gillian Anderson and Robert Carlyle.
Having faced the big screen before, Tyrone said he was “ready for anything” when it came to filming, but Ciaran joked that before he knew it, “we had to do six different takes as he hit me full with force in the stomach, and then swinging me by the jaw – and this was two weeks before one of his fights.”
Ciaran pointed out that the film does not gloss over the “party lifestyle” and anti-social behavior that the Hollilands have become known for over the years, but hones in on key themes of mental health and the impact of alcohol and partying on students’ lives. there.
“Even though it’s a comedy film and it’s very creative, it has to have some kind of good theme that can touch on some real-life things,” Paddy added.
“For example, many students have problems with money and home life, and an important thing I’ve noticed is that students are forced to do degrees they don’t particularly like, but their parents want them to do.
“I’m not saying that this excuses the behavior to go out and destroy the place, but this movie is trying to show that not every student in Halliland can be portrayed as a bad person or anti-social.”
Paddy hopes to take part in 15 of The Unholylands’ most suitable film festivals next year, with the festival cycle starting in March and usually running for around six months.
“We are thinking about the end of 2023. We really want to make this release an event,” he said
“When you’re doing a film festival circuit, you have to wait until it’s over to do the proper premieres, but obviously there will be a few premieres in Belfast – and Fermanagh, among other things,” K’ added with a smile. Yaran.
You can follow @TheUnHolylandsFilm on Instagram for further news about the film and its release.