Hollywood director, Paul Greengrass, has described Derry as a “shining city”.
Mr. Greengrass, who returns home to England later today, arrived in Derry yesterday morning and took part in several events as part of the City of Culture’s Cinema City showpiece.
“I first came to Derry 33 years ago with a current affairs programme called ‘World In Action’,” Mr. Greengrass told the Derry Journal.
“I was driving in this morning and I was quite emotional.
“You know, when you come over and you see the city in the distance and the light catches it - it looks like a shining city,” he said.
“I remember thinking, it’s been 33 years since I first came here. I was a young and very impressionable and naive young man.
“This city has taught me a lot about life over the years. I have met so many inspiring people from all parts of the city and it’s been the great privilege of my life to make movies here and about here. I am very proud and pleased to be back here.”
Mr. Greengrass first arrived in Derry in the early 1980s to make a film about IRA hunger striker and now Sinn Fein MLA, Raymond McCartney. The two men have remained in touch throughout the years.
“I was sent by my ‘World In Action’ editor here 33 years ago to cover the 1981 Hunger Strikes.
“That was when I first met Raymond McCartney. I eventually made a film about Raymond, about who he was and how he ended up on hunger strike,
“That’s where my association with the city began and I made many films all over Ireland and the North. I am very, very proud of the work that I have done here.”
Mr. Greengrass’ connections with Bloody Sunday and those affected by the actions of the British Army on January 30, 1972, have been well documented.
Although his film was released in 2002, Mr. Greengrass has followed the ongoing news and developments surrounding Bloody Sunday very closely.
“It remains the great privilege of my life to have been allowed to have made ‘Bloody Sunday’,” he said.
“I think I was filming ‘Green Zone’ when Prime Minister David Cameron made his announcement in the Houses of Parliament.
“I stopped filming because I wanted to watch. I remember the hands coming out of the window and I remember speaking to John Kelly from the families afterwards. The dignity the families had that day was very, very moving.
“I also thought Prime Minister Cameron’s words, long overdue as they were, were the right words. I believe it was a heartfelt and sincere apology.
“It was yet another milestone down the long road of conflict revolution.”
For more on Cinema City see Andrew Quinn’s ‘Cinema City Diaries’ in this weekend’s Sunday Journal.