Festival’s good vibrations

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REMEMBER the bad old days of Protestant-Catholic hostility in Australia, mixed-marriages and discrimination in the public service?

Young people today look in disbelief if you tell them about the phenomenon that probably travelled here from Ireland.

Director Lisa Barros D’Sa is astonished, too, that I know about “The Troubles” of the 1970s in Northern Ireland, the setting for “Good Vibrations”, the film she’s co-directed, about Ulster’s guru of punk rock, Terri Hooley.

“Good Vibrations”... Richard Dormer, left, in the role of Ulster’s guru of punk rock, Terri Hooley, in his legendary Belfast record store, with Michael Colgan as his business partner, Dave.
“Good Vibrations”… Richard Dormer, left, in the role of Ulster’s guru of punk rock, Terri Hooley, in his legendary Belfast record store, with Michael Colgan as his business partner, Dave.
It’s coming to the British Film Festival in Canberra soon and is likely to be a sell-out.

No wonder. It has a fabulous soundtrack and a riveting central performance by stage actor Richard Dormer, tipped to become an international star.

Added to that is the vividly violent background, where young punks of the ‘70s, fed up with the Catholic versus Protestant issue, converge to defy convention and enjoy their head-smashing brand of music.

The script, Barros D’Sa tells me, is based on stories told by Hooley.

It’s called a bio-pic, but it feels more like a dramatic feature. She puts that down to its authenticity and to the emotional centre, the story of how, obsessed by music, he loses his wife, Ruth, and child.

“Terri recognised and captured the true spin of Northern Ireland and the way the kids were so oppressed so heavily by The Troubles,” Barros D’Sa tells me by phone from Belfast. “There’s something universal in the story, it’s about youth and music”.

And what amazing music that is. Hooley was brought up on a different kind of music and adored the soft-pop girl group, the Shangri-La’s. But when he came across punk accidentally “he saw something exciting”, she says.

With his old-fashioned beard and his jumpers, Hooley didn’t seem to fit in with the punks, but has since been described as “the greatest punk ever.”

“It’s a picture of an alternative Ulster,” she says, “it looks at the ‘70s in a different way.”

The festival opens on November 19 with “One Chance”, the story of Paul Potts, the first winner of “Britain’s Got Talent”. Julie Walters plays his mum.

Eric Bana will be in town on November 22 for a Q&A following the political thriller, “Closed Circuit”.

The British Film Festival, at Palace Electric, November 19-December 1, bookings to palacecinemas.com.au/cinemas/electric

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