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Friday, 19 November, 1999, 16:42 GMT
Big Apple debut for NI film-makers
The title screen from one of the films "Made in Northern Ireland"

A group of local movie-makers are the toast of New York where they are showing a selection of their films.

Screen idol Liam Neeson launched the "Made in Northern Ireland" festival at a venue owned by fellow movie star Robert de Niro.

The Ballymena-born actor described the offer to open the festival, which is backed by the Northern Ireland Film Commission, at the Tribeca Screen Centreas one he couldn't refuse.

Liam Neeson: Jumped at chance to launch festival from home
"As a Jedi-master, I get asked to do lots of things from opening garden fetes to supermarkets to introducing Mozart concerts at the Russian Embassy in Washington but I very politely decline most of them.

"I jumped at the chance to introduce this evening films "Made in Northern Ireland" because that's where I'm from and I'm very proud of the talent that's there, what I've seen."

On show during the evening was a selection of short films including Oscar nominee Dance Lexie Dance which was made in Londonderry by the media group, the Nerve Centre.

Also attracting audience attention was the latest work by Armagh's Enda Hughes.

Entitled Comm-raid on the Potemkin, the film was an unusual take on the 20s classic Battleship Potemkin as it looked more like a video game than a conventional movie.

Big Apple film-goers enjoyed their night of Northern Irish fare immensely. "The talent is really being exposed and there's a lot of talent there," said one.

Another said that each one of the films on show expressed a different point of view and described the movies as 'delightful'.

Festival organiser Paul Largan came up with the idea for the event after visiting the US a number of times.

Paul Largan: Huge demand for NI films
"Right now, the whole peace deal back home is big news in New York and you can see that the demand for seats at the screening was phenomenal," he said.

After the New York festival, the film-makers will set their sights further west.

In Spring, the Made in Northern Ireland festival will be hoping to attract packed houses in Los Angeles just before the Oscars ceremony

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