A film co-produced by Donegal woman Sheila Friel has been presented with the much-coveted Audience Award at Thessaloniki International Documentary Film Festival in Greece. 

Shiela Friel from Creeslough is the Managing Director and Executive Producer of Imagine Media Productions, which created An Buachaill Gealgháireach / The Laughing Boy / Το Γελαστό Παιδί.

The trilingual film was written and presented by Corkman Theo Dorgan, directed by Dubliner Alan Gilsenan and produced by Ms Friel and  Kathryn Baird from Belfast.

An Buachaill Gealgháireach is the remarkable untold story of a song. An Irish song called The Laughing Boy written by a teenage rebel called Brendan Behan in memory of another iconic rebel, Michael Collins. The film takes poet Theo Dorgan on an odyssey of his own, as he attempts to uncover the truth of the story behind the song.

Ms Friel said: “It is immensely gratifying to win an award always, but this is special since it comes from the audience. We were anxious, of course, bringing such a quintessential Greek film to Thessaloniki, given the sensitive political and cultural issues we are dealing with, but we got an amazing response there, a sense that we had, somehow, bridged the gap between two peoples, two cultures.”

President Michael D. Higgins and Sabina Higgins hosted a special screening of the film, An Buachaill Gealgháireach, in Áras an Uachtaráin last month. The Greek and Cypriot Ambassadors to Ireland, and guests from the Greek community joined the production team at the screening where they celebrated Behan’s extraordinary achievement.

Filmed in Ireland, the UK, France and Greece, the film also features performances from a number of Irish musicians – including Andy Irvine, Donal Lunny, MayKay, Liam Ó Maonlaí and David Power and well-known musicians and singers from Greece, foremost among them Maria Farantouri, honoured throughout the world as the pre-eminent interpreter of the songs of Theodorakis.

An Buachaill Gealgháireach  is available on the TG4 Player. https://nasc.tg4.tv/An_Buachaill_Gealgháireach