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Thursday, 4 January, 2001, 11:27 GMT
Spielberg accused in movie row
Oscar winning director Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg: To receive knighthood at the end of January
Movie director Steven Spielberg has been accused of trying to bury a movie about Belfast in order to curry favour with the UK Government.

The criticism follows last week's news that the Oscar-winning director, who co-owns the Dreamworks studio, is to receive an honorary knighthood in the New Years' Honours list.

The Everlasting Piece, a Dreamworks film made in Belfast last summer, was shown in just a few cinemas when it was released in the US at Christmas.

But its co-producer, Jerome O'Connor, said it had been scheduled for widespread release.

"It's so obvious they're trying to bury the movie," Mr O'Connor told the New York Post.

Cut

"They're doing everything possible to make sure it doesn't work."

Mr O'Connor said the film's release pattern was cut from 750 cinemas across the United States to just eight at the last moment.

One of Mr Spielberg's partners in Dreamworks is reported to have told the film's director, Barry Levinson - who directed Rain Man - to cut political undertones from the movie three weeks before it was due to be released.

A spokesperson for the studio said: "No-one at Dreamworks has heard from Mr O'Connor on this or any other issue.

"Everyone involved with this movie has been aware from the start that it was always on a limited-release pattern."

Symbol

The film centres on two Belfast barbers from opposite sides of the sectarian divide who come together to sell hair pieces.

They are forced to use increasingly imaginative selling techniques to turn a profit in the comedy, which is due to be released in Northern Ireland and the UK later this year.

The film also features a disused house which stood on the peace line in north Belfast and which came to symbolise the division between Catholics and Protestants during the Troubles.

The house at 28 Roe Street was demolished to make way for a housing development a week after filming ended.

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See also:

04 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Hell toupee over Irish wig farce
29 Dec 00 | UK
Spielberg gets Royal honour
29 Dec 00 | Entertainment
Steven Spielberg: Movie man
01 Feb 00 | Entertainment
Spielberg's top directing honour
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