Northern Ireland

Battle of the Somme to be recreated at Belfast loyalist parade for feature film

Image copyright J Waite Films
Image caption A scene from a new film being produced in Belfast about the Battle of the Somme

Marchers at a loyalist parade to mark the centenary of the Somme on Saturday will take part in a trench warfare re-enactment for use on a feature film.

The large parade takes place in Belfast on Saturday.

The filming will take place at Woodvale Park at the top of the Shankhill Road. The area will stand in for the French countryside on the first day of the battle.

The film has been in the planning stages for a number of years.

But the backing of the 2016 Committee, which has organised Saturday's parade, has allowed it to go ahead.

Image copyright J Waite Films
Image caption The film will focus on a father-son relationship

It is the brainchild of young director Jonathan Waite: "It's been something I have been banging on the door, hoping to get made, for a number of years.

Game of Thrones

"And then the 2016 Committee approached me once they had seen some footage and asked me to get involved.

"It's aimed towards a Game of Thrones scale."

Hundreds of people will take part in the film without payment, explained Jonathan.

"They are all willing participants, they are bandsmen and people from Somme commemorations and people that are just generally interested in their history.

"It seems to be working, it is creating different ways to enjoy culture."

The script centres on a father and son relationship.

"That's been a father son story, which has come down through the generations, and to me that's the important part, to try and identify a small snippet of what the Somme means to me," Jonathon said.

"It's a poignant moment, there are certain stages there where it gets quite emotional and that's something that actually drives me on with it."


Jonathan hopes to get the film finished in time to feature in the Cannes Film Festival next year.

Winston Irvine of the 2016 committee believes the film is a "new departure" for loyalism.

"People are very excited by this new alternative approach to engaging with history, identity, culture and the past.

"For many of them it has been a whole new experience. These are ordinary guys who are untrained but I've seen quite a few budding actors among them.

"The guys have embraced it, because they are passionate about it."

Image copyright J Waite Films
Image caption The film will feature pyrotechnics to help recreate the battle and organisers are warning of loud explosions during Saturday's re-enactment


Saturday's parade will take place as Republic of Ireland fans make their way to the fanzone in the Titanic Quarter to watch their team take on Belgium in Euro 2016.

But, Winston Irvine is playing down fears of confrontation between the two groups.

"The Somme Association and the 2016 Committee will ensure that they work with the police, with their neighbouring communities and with every other statutory body to ensure this event passes off peacefully."

Image copyright J Waite Films
Image caption A wounded soldier in a scene from the film

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