Why are unionists so invisible on the big screen..?

AFTER the premier of Hunger, Protestant playwright Gary Mitchell – whose mind seems uncharacteristically closed to watching the movie about another former Rathcoole resident forced out by the local loyalists – laments the lack of movies telling “the other side of the story”. Mitchell believes that views on Northern Ireland are being skewed in one direction, even though the unionist community is “exciting and interesting – there are plenty of fascinating stories in there”. Unionists often point to a sympathy for Irish nationalism in the film industry, which is viewed with suspicion, and film companies might argue that a movie on the unionist experience is unlikely to make its money back – although I can’t imagine too many in Hollywood or the European film industries feel greatly pushed to redress the ‘balance’. There seems to be a huge gulf between unionism and the movie industry, which has more interest in Northern Ireland as a location with tax breaks than as a place with a story to tell, although there was talk of films on the Siege of Derry and Paisley some time ago. And is the situation really much different on the small screen or stage? Mitchell’s plays show that there is an audience, but is that enough?