An Oscar for a Belfast film-maker whose work concentrates on the violence of the Troubles was yesterday welcomed across the political and religious divide in Northern Ireland.
Terry George won an Oscar for his film The Shore in the live-action-short category. The movie, which has a Troubles-related theme, was described as "in equal parts hilarious and moving".
George received the joint congratulations of Unionist First Minister Peter Robinson and his republican deputy, Martin McGuinness, who described the award as a brilliant achievement for Northern Ireland's place "as a premier location for film and TV production".
The two politicians have been personally involved in promoting the local film industry, which in recent years has grown steadily, attracting a number of American projects. They have together visited Hollywood to seek increased investment.
The winning film was written, produced and directed by George on location at his holiday cottage on the Co Down coast, featuring Northern Irish actors.
He described it as "the story of one small act of reconciliation which mirrors the courageous achievement of the people who after 800 years of division and bloodshed came together to talk and make their peace with one another".
The Shore concerns a man who emigrated to America 25 years ago to escape the Troubles, and who brings his daughter back to meet his childhood friends. He said making the film was "the most joyous experience of my career, telling a joyous story in a beautiful place that had suffered the scars of a terrible war and now needed to heal".
George had twice been previously Oscar-nominated, for his screenplays for Hotel Rwanda and In the Name of the Father. He has also been involved with Belfast-based dramas including The Boxer and Some Mother's Son.