Producers of “A Belfast Story” are in hot water having sent balaclavas, nails and gaffer tape as part of the press kit to promote the upcoming movie on terrorism in Northern Ireland.
Journalists and the public have taken to social media calling the media kit “distasteful” and pledging they will not be watching the movie. The movie’s publicity company, Way to Blue, has announced that they will no longer work with the movie following the mail out.
Starring Colm Meaney, “A Belfast Story” was written by Queen’s University graduate Nathan Todd. The movie aims to “explore life after terrorism” in Belfast and shows a city where car bombs and attacks are less common but old habits die hard.
Movie journalist Chris Hewitt, from Banbridge, County Down, is now the news editor of Empire magazine. He took to Twitter on Wednesday and said, "Just been sent the most distasteful freebie ever: a box containing a bag of nails (for a nail bomb) and a balaclava, for “The Belfast Story.”
"Genuinely stunned by this. Not quite sure what point whoever sent it is trying to make. But I'm pretty sure it's a moronic one.
"I'd like to sit down with whoever came up with that little brainwave and explain to them what growing up during The Troubles was like."
He added: "I'm now not going to see it. There is such a thing as bad publicity."
Ulster Television journalist, Frank Mitchell, also received a press packs. He said, "My immediate reaction was to question it as strange, not to criticize it - my immediate reaction was not one of offence, but some people were offended."
In a statement the publicity company Way to Blue said, “We wanted to assure you all that press mailers for “A Belfast Story” have not been created, produced, or distributed by Way To Blue. We were very surprised to hear of the content via Twitter and do not in any way advocate these having been sent to anybody as a promotional tool,” the Drum reports.
Todd spoke to UTV on Thursday. He said, “Obviously we're not looking to offend anyone - I'd be the first to hold my hands up and say that's just not something we want to do and apologies if they are.
“I'll be honest enough to say we are competing, with local actors and local crew, against some Hollywood blockbusters - so we appreciate all the attention we can get.
“But it wouldn't be our intention to cause offence to get it. It's just not worth it.”
A publicist for the movie Teri Kelly said the kit was sent out by the movie’s producers to illustrate the “dichotomy” within Northern Ireland.
Kelly said, “The producer was fully aware of what he was doing.
"It was sent out to show the two sides of the film, reconciliation and retribution.
"There are two sides to the box (in the press kit) and one side represents retribution and violence and one side represents turning away from violence.
"It tries to show the dichotomy within Northern Ireland."
The movie’s director Todd also added, “My father was a journalist for Radio Ulster throughout most of the 70s. I asked him: 'Would you find this a problem?' He was fine.”
Here’s the trailer for the movie set for release on September 20: