Filming under way in Derry for ‘Penance’ film

Actors Gerard McSorley  (third from left) and Barry McGovern pictured with local extras Charlie Nash, Danny McNamee and Gerry Sharkey on the set of Tom Collins new feature film Penance (Aithr�) at St Columbas Church Long Tower yesterday.  DER4016GS003
Actors Gerard McSorley (third from left) and Barry McGovern pictured with local extras Charlie Nash, Danny McNamee and Gerry Sharkey on the set of Tom Collins new feature film Penance (Aithr�) at St Columbas Church Long Tower yesterday. DER4016GS003

Filming for the movie ‘Penance’ by acclaimed local film-maker, Tom Collins, moved to Derry yesterday, with a three week shoot planned in the city.

Bogside native Mr. Collins told the ‘Journal’ it was great to back on home turf as hundreds of local extras joined the cast of the film at the Long Tower Church in Derry yesterday for a day of filming.

Director Tom Collins on the set of his new feature film Penance (Aithr�) during filming at St Columbas Church Long Tower yesterday.  DER4016GS005

Director Tom Collins on the set of his new feature film Penance (Aithr�) during filming at St Columbas Church Long Tower yesterday. DER4016GS005

‘Aithrí/Penance,’ has been shooting in Ramelton, Co. Donegal prior to the 45-strong crew moving wholesale to Derry this week after a few recently filmed scenes in the city.

The movie is being shot in both Irish and English and tells the story of a young firebrand priest - Father Eoin O’ Donnell, who uses his influence over his parishioners, and, in particular, a teenage boy called Antaine, to promote violence against the British in the lead-up to the 1916 Rising.

They meet again in Derry in 1969 and both men are forced to re-examine their shared past and the deadly events that have been set in motion.

The film was penned by Greg Ó ‘Braonáin and Tom Collins, who is also directing it.

Director Tom Collins (centre) on the set of his new feature film Penance (Aithr�) during filming at St Columbas Church Long Tower yesterday.  DER4016GS006

Director Tom Collins (centre) on the set of his new feature film Penance (Aithr�) during filming at St Columbas Church Long Tower yesterday. DER4016GS006

Mr. Collins said: “It’s great to be shooting some stuff in Derry. It’s a big production, a six weeks shoot. We have shot some massive scenes with a couple of hundred extras.

“We are now up for the next three weeks in Derry, shooting on the bridge, Long Tower Church and other areas.”

Mr. Collins said that some of the areas of the city where filming is taking place remained largely as they were in 1960s such as Bishop Street, Society Street and the Long Tower Church area.

Hundreds of local people in Derry and Donegal have been getting involved in the production, with fresh casting calls for extras on social media over recent days.

They will be joining a cast of top actors including Peter Coonan, who starred as Fran in Love/Hate in the lead role of Father Eoin O’ Donnell.

Tom Collins has been producing and directing award-winning feature films and documentaries since working on the Derry-based film Hush-a-Bye Baby in 1988.

During his career, he has had the unprecedented distinction of being twice nominated as Ireland’s Entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards for his films Kings 2008 and The Gift / An Bronntanas in 2014.

Other films have included Bogwoman and Teenage Kicks - The Undertones and The Boys of St. Columb’s.

‘Aithrí/Penance’ is set to be released around Easter 2017. It is produced by Collins, alongside Edwina Forkin (Zanzibar films), and funded by NI Screen, The Irish Film Board, TG4 and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.