The 14th annual Belfast Film Festival got underway last Thursday with the world gala premiere of the Dunlop family based documentary ‘Road’.
The road racing film tells the extraordinary story of Ballymoney legends, Joey and Robert Dunlop who gave their lives to their sport, and Robert’s sons William and Michael, who are now carving out their own reputations in one of the world’s fastest and most dangerous sports.
Between them, they have torn up TT records, battled against the odds against crippling injuries and inspired fans around the world.
Narrated by Ballymena actor Liam Neeson, the film is written, produced and directed by Diarmuid Lavery and Michael Hewitt and premieres as part of the festival which runs over 10 days from 27 March - 5 April.
In attendance at the sold-out screening at Belfast’s Movie House cinema were Joey’s widow Linda, Robert’s widow Louise and her sons, Michael and William, who keep the family’s winning tradition alive.
William explained: “It’s quite strong. There have been so many things done about them but this is the most powerful one -- it shows it in a different light.
“After seeing it you feel good. I feel very proud.
“It will make people who don’t really understand what we do aware of how good it is as a sport.
“People see the dangerous side of things, but it’s a family tradition for us and they will get to see the good side of the whole thing.”
Michael added: “I’m looking forward to just seeing what other people think of it now.
“It is what it is, some people will like it and some people won’t.
“It’s life, it’s an impacting hard story, but that’s what road racing is all about.”
Swarms of people descended on the Dublin Road cinema for the documentary, which was shown to 900 people on three screens simultaneously.
Close family friend Liam Beckett said: “I have seen it twice before and it is a rollercoaster of emotions.”
The screening was an exclusive chance to see the film before its general release this summer.
The Mayor of Ballymoney, Cllr John Finlay said the film was ‘putting Ballymoney town on the world map’ adding: “We are all very proud.”