Distinguished guests from the worlds of film and politics came together last night for the UK & Ireland Premiere of The Journey about the relationship between Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness.

The Belfast Film Festival premiere, in partnership with Movie House Cinemas and Into Film, was attended by lead actors Timothy Spall (Paisley) and Colm Meaney (McGuinness), as well as director Nick Hamm and writer, Colin Bateman.

The dramatic comedy was inspired by a major turning point in British and Irish history. Belfast-born Nick Hamm was intrigued by the relationship between the two men and asked Bateman to come up with a story about a journey that the two political titans took together.

Director Nick Hamm said:

“I knew that in those early days of St. Andrews, McGuinness and Paisley had shared a private jet and I thought this story simply had to be told. I asked Colin to fictionalise the event and his witty and dark sense of humour has really brought this very surreal story to life.

The unexpected friendship that developed between these two political titans is a wonderful story and testament to how far we have come in Northern Ireland. Once bitter foes, the relationship slowly evolved into something that brought us continued peace and stability.

“It is a great honour to open the film to UK and Irish audiences, right here in Belfast.”

Belfast Film Festival Director, Michele Devlin, said:

“We all think we know the story of how two such bitter political rivals ended up leading the country, earning each other’s respect and the nickname ‘the Chuckle Brothers’. But The Journey sheds new light on the early days of this once fractious relationship that, slowly and stumbling at first, evolved into a model of statesmanship that defied the odds.

“With the current instability in our political institutions, The Journey is a timely reminder of the courage and compromises required to move this country forward.”

Michael McAdam, Movie House Cinemas said:

“We are really pleased to be able to sponsor the UK/Ireland premiere of this topical new movie, which really showcases Northern Ireland’s growing role in film and television production on a global stage.”

The film is in cinemas nationwide from Friday 5 May.