Danny Boyle

The Oscar-winning director chats with screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce in Derry~Londonderry

Oscar-winning film director Danny Boyle and screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce take to the stage in St Columb's Hall, Derry~Londonderry for one of the most anticipated events of the UK City of Culture year.

The event is presented by Culture Company and the Nerve Centre, in association with BAFTA, as part of the Foyle Film Festival and Cinema City, which runs in venues across the city until November 30.

Boyle and Cottrell Boyce spend the best part of two hours talking about their individual careers, their work together on the London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, and hosting a highly entertaining Q&A session.

Boyle – whose 2008 film Slumdog Millionaire won eight Oscars, including one for best director – declares that he is delighted to be back in the city that held the first ever public screening of his iconic film Trainspotting 17 years ago. 'So it's been lovely to be able to come back and do a bit of a Q&A with Frank, especially because of his connection with the city this year with writing The Return of Colmcille.'

Boyle is without question one of the most talented contemporary filmmakers around. Along with Cottrell Boyce, he delivered the iconic Olympics Opening Ceremony in 2012, which somehow managed to distill British cultural history into just two hours – including references to everything from the Industrial Revolution to Coronation Street – and his latest film, 2013's Trance, was another memorable offering from the Radcliffe born auteur.

Like many of his movies, Boyle is charming, balanced and possesses the most wonderfully dry wit. When asked by one young young fan what advice he would give to a younger generation of filmmakers, for instance, Boyle replies with the most infectious passion.

'Do you see myself and Frank up here on the stage?' he asks. 'Well, we are well and truly past it. We are over the hill, and we might be able to get another few years out of the movie business, but the film industry needs new blood, like you.

'If I could give you any other advice,' he adds, 'it would be to work with your peers. Always look up to your elders, but in order to refine your own ideas properly you need to work with your own generation.'

Cottrell Boyce, who wrote the screenplays for both Welcome to Sarajevo and 24 Hour Party People, was the creative force behind Derry~Londonderry's The Return of Colmcille back in June, an event promoted as the flagship City of Culture event.

The three-day extravaganza saw a gigantic fire breathing monster swim down the River Foyle towards the Peace Bridge, where the symbolic battle between Derry~Londonderry's patron saint and the Lough Ness Monster was re-enacted.

Void of pretension and contrivance, Boyle admits that one of his greatest regrets of 2013 was that he was unable to visit the city during the Colmcille celebrations. 'I am sorry I wasn't able to be here for The Return of Colmcille. I was away at the time. I did manage to see some of it on video, and it looked absolutely amazing. I was really chuffed about it for Frank. He's a great man.'

Following the in conversation part of the evening, Boyle jumps into a car and makes for the Brunswick Moviebowl, where he introduces a special screening of his 1996 masterpiece Trainspotting, starring Ewin McGregor as a heroin addict intent on making a better life for himself. Boyle looks back on this piece with real affection – no wonder, then, that a sequel is rumoured to be in the works.

The following day, the 26th Foyle Film Festival comes to an end with the Northern Ireland premiere of Tom Hanks' latest feature, Saving Mr. Banks. It tells the story of how Walt Disney (Hanks) managed to convince Mary Poppins author PL Travers (Emma Thompson) to give her approval to the 1964 film adaptation Mary Poppins, which starred Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke. Without question one of the magical and wonderful films of the year, it goes on general release on November 29.

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