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Channel 4 to screen NI based indie film

Channel 4 is to screen a new feature-length drama, ‘Sarah Moves On’, by Derry-based Westway Films, on Tuesday, May 18 at 10.30 am.
Sarah Moves On is a sequel to ‘Sarah and the Whammi’ which had extraordinary success, winning the Royal Television Society Award, the Celtic Film Festival Prize and a BAFTA nomination for best education programme.
Sarah Moves On works as well as a stand-alone, self-contained film as it does as a sequel to Sarah and the Whammi. Producer and co-writer Joe Mahon describes it as: “A film about children made for adults and a film about adults made for children.”
Jointly commissioned by the NI Community Relations Council and Channel 4 and funded by the EU Peace II Fund, Sarah Moves On is a complex and provocative drama which deals with a range of issues including sectarian attitudes, cultural allegiance, family and kinship loyalties, peer group pressure and conflict resolution.
Nine-year-old Sarah is a thoughtful, good-natured child who simply wants to be fair to everyone she meets, but she finds that everyone she meets has a different notion of fairness. The oldest child of a Catholic mother and a Protestant father, Sarah begins to question her own sense of belonging when her grandmother becomes the victim of a sectarian attack. As tensions rise within the extended family, Sarah comes into conflict with her best friend and becomes increasingly isolated and lonely. She is forced to retreat into a fantasy world where she can empower herself to impose order and fairness in the midst of anarchy.
Carmel Gallagher of CCEA said: “I was riveted by it throughout. I was amazed that something childlike and gentle could also be so uncomfortable and challenging.”
John Richmond, Channel 4 Commissioning Editor, showed extracts of Sarah Moves On at a recent international conference on television and conflict resolution in Rio de Janeiro.
“This is the best work that Westway Films have produced for us in a long line of programmes dealing with community relations. As a drama it is very moving and as a learning resource it is enormously rich and rewarding,” he said.
The film was directed and co-written by Orlagh Bann who also directed Sarah and the Whammi. Bann has managed to coax astoundingly mature performances out of her young charges, especially from child actors Megan Canavan and Ruby Campbell. “I was unfailingly impressed by their powers of concentration, their ability to grasp quite subtle nuances and to perform with total conviction in front of camera on a crowded set; you find it hard to believe at times that they’re just children having fun,” she said.
Duncan Morrow, Chief Executive of the NI Community Relations Council, said: “Sarah Moves On is a remarkable film for both adults and children. Without preaching, the film holds up a mirror to the dilemmas and challenges facing children in Northern Ireland and invites all of us to take a breath before we leap to our usual conclusions. I found the whole experience very moving.”

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