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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 March 2005, 08:52 GMT 09:52 UK
Film explores bonfire comradeship
Youths on bonfire
The scale of the effort is discussed
The comradeship around the eleventh night loyalist tradition of the bonfire is explored in a BBC documentary.

It was filmed in Belfast's Springmartin Estate, where unemployment is estimated at about 70%.

The Bonfire tells the story of the area in the run up to the flames on the eve of the 12 July parades.

The parades commemorate Protestant Prince William of Orange's 1690 Battle of the Boyne victory over Catholic King James II.

Springmartin - as far up the Shankill as you can get - is home to 160 families, many single parent.

It is a predominantly loyalist community, with time on its hands.

Filmed over several months in 2004, the hour-long documentary depicts how life within a 200sq ft radius is overshadowed by the collection and protection of the towering pile of wood and tyres on the estate green.

The need to get involved is described by a local father, Frank.

Burning bonfire
The flames leap high on bonfire night

"At a certain time, the body clock inside, it tells you it's near bonfire time," he said.

"I don't know if it is something that's bred into you, but it is that natural instinct to get friends together, to gather wood in preparation for the eleventh night."

Gathering the wood takes time, effort and a van. The bonfire gang, with members aged four to 18, build huts, friendships and a sense of pride.

The older community looks on with interest, monitoring the quality of the furniture discarded and nostalgic for days before pallets and tyres.

The film shows the extraordinary life of ordinary people, filmmaker Ian Kirk-Smith said.

"This is a portrait of a working class community and its many acts of small kindnesses.

"The subject of the film is the bonfire and through it we explore a sense of belonging, of identity, of place. This could be the story of any estate across the UK or Ireland."

The Bonfire - Wednesday 30 March, 2005, 2240 BST, BBC ONE Northern Ireland.

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