Northern Ireland news

Short movie about west Belfast boy who wants to wear dress to Holy Communion part of global film campaign

The short film is about a young west Belfast boy who wants to wear a dress to his First Communion
Suzanne McGonagle

A SHORT movie about a young west Belfast boy who wants to wear a dress to his Holy Communion is set to be part of a global film campaign.

Just Johnny, the debut screenplay by former Hollyoaks actor and writer Gerard McCarthy, has been selected for Five Films for Freedom - the world’s widest-reaching LGBTQIA+ digital campaign.

Filmed in north Belfast, it centres on parents Maria and Dermot, played by Roisin Gallagher and Martin McCann, whose straightforward family life takes a sudden turn when their son, Johnny, announces he wants to wear a dress for his First Communion.

Both parents are keen to do what is best for Johnny, but their different opinions almost pull the happy family apart.

The film has already received global attention, including winning a Gryphon Award at the prestigious Giffoni International Film Festival in Italy and Audience Choice Awards at the Children’s Film Festival Seattle.

Producer Shauna Shivers McAtamney said they were "overwhelmed" with the reaction to the film so far.

"It’s a very joyful film which celebrates Northern Ireland," she said.

"When we were developing the film in 2019, we really wanted to reflect the community and people from Northern Ireland with authenticity and really highlight the vibrancy and sense of community that we have here.

"We shot the film in March 2021, one of the first productions to film here after lockdown, which presented some challenges, but we were fortunate to have a talented cast and crew, whose professionalism and passion brought great energy to the set, making the experience so special and enjoyable.

"Gerard, our screenwriter, describes it a ‘love letter to parents everywhere’.... It's also a celebration of children, their bravery, and their ability to look beyond labels and celebrate their friends for who they are."

Northern Ireland news