A Belfast Story director apologises for sending 'nail bomb' promotional kit branded 'the most distasteful freebie ever'

Filmmaker Nathan Todd said the PR package was 'not intended to offend anyone'

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The Independent Culture

The director of a new film about paramilitaries in Northern Ireland has apologised for sending out a promotional pack that included a balaclava, nails and a roll of duct tape.

Film writers were shocked when they received the package promoting A Belfast Story, which stars Irish actor Colm Meaney and is set in a post-Troubles Belfast which is still marred by terrorist violence.

Chris Hewitt of Empire magazine, who is originally from Banbridge in County Down, called the press kit “the most distasteful freebie ever”.

Hewitt tweeted that he had received “a box containing a bag of nails (for a nail bomb) and a balaclava, for A Belfast Story. Not quite sure what point whoever sent it is trying to make. But I'm pretty sure it's a moronic one.”

The promotional boxes, which also feature fake newspaper clippings and surveillance photos, were sent to media outlets including Belfast’s UTV.

The film, which follows a weary detective (Meaney) investigating the murders of former paramilitaries, was written and directed by Nathan Todd, a former engineering student at Queen's University, Belfast.

Todd said the packs were not meant to frighten or offend people. “The idea was to interest people in a movie we were making which is essentially the story of the two choices which face Belfast, do we engage retribution or reconciliation,” he told BBC Good Morning Ulster. “Obviously, the intention is not to offend anyone. We apologise if we did.”

Still from A Belfast Story

A Belfast Story

claims to “explore life after terrorism.” The director added: “The intention is to raise awareness for something that we did, that delves into some legitimate questions and tells some interesting stories about the city and the country.”

The director’s apology may be insufficient to persuade Mr Hewitt, who plans to give A Belfast Story, which opens next month, a miss. “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 said. “I’m now not going to see it. There is such a thing as bad publicity.”

Teri Kelly, a publicist for the movie, said the press kit had been sent out by the producers of the film to make a point about Northern Ireland’s divided psyche after the Good Friday Agreement.

“It was  sent out to show the two sides of the film, reconciliation and retribution,” Kelly said. “There are two sides to the box 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 press kit appears to be the most idiotic promotional movie stunt since a Missouri cinema hired a gunman in full tactical gear to storm an Iron Man 3 screening in May. Terrified cinemagoers called police, fearing a repeat of the Colorado cinema shooting which left 12 dead during a premiere screening of The Dark Knight Rises.

Photo tweeted by Holy Moly! showing the A Belfast Story press kit