A gritty tale of working-class life in 1990s Craigavon. Click Play Audio for a podcast with producer Chris Martin
Colin McNally couldn't give a toss about the political situation in the north of Ireland. He's too busy stealing cars with his mates. Then, a chance encounter with a ruthless policeman turns him into an informer for the forces of 'law and order', making him a target of retribution for his father's old aquaintances in the IRA.
If McNally is to survive the violent upheaval that follows, he must struggle with the intense loyalty he feels for his mates, the need to protect his mother from her tragic past, and the political ideals of a dead father.
This is the story of Peacefire, the gritty cinematic version of Armagh actor/writer/director MacDara Vallely's criticalled acclaimed one-man play.
Set in 1994, Peacefire stars John Travers (Closing The Ring, Song For A Raggy Boy) as the troubled protagonist.
'If I had to compare Peacefire to other films, I would say that it's a cross between [Mathieu Kassovitz's] La Haine and the Brazilian City of God,' says producer Chris Martin.
'I truly believe it's that good. It was made on a budget of £200,000, but there's a quality to the film that isn't reflective of its financial limitations.'
For McNally and his friends, Craigavon is a world in which joyriders make kneecapping appointments with paramilitaries so as to have the ambulance on hand when they need it.
McNally's is a community so familiar with everyday violence that one young victim, fully aware of the punishment about to be inflicted upon him, requests to be shot with a certain caliber of bullet so as to reduce unnecessary damage. His attackers oblige. In such a closed community, chances are both parties know each other well.
Martin admits that the film doesn't pull any punches. As with any film set in 1990s Northern Ireland, violence is never far away. But the film would not be reflective of life in NI without the dry-as-a-bone sense of humour inherent in her inhabitants.
'It's as realist as they come,' says Martin. 'Obviously the lives of the characters aren't all roses. There's drink, drugs, joyriding, a police presence and paramilitary violence for them to deal with. But there's also a healthy dose of black humour thrown in there too, and without humour you couldn't call the film realist.
'MacDara did a brilliant job of expanding the original play for the screen. He's managed to retain the humour and authenticity of the play. It's very much a reflection of what life is like in working-class areas.'
Of Vallely's original theatrical treatment of the story, one reviewer for the Guardian newspaper wrote: 'What lifts this above the ordinary is the swagger of the writing and the textual richness, making this more than just another rites-of-passage story.'
Currently in talks with film festivals including Cannes, Vallely and co look forward to Peacefire's general release in summer 2008.
As part of the Belfast Film Festival, Peacefire will be showing to a select audience of cast and crew on April 16 at 7pm in the Queen's Film Theatre.