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TracingsHollywood glitters for ‘Dance Lexie Dance’ team

February 15, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Olivia Tracey

In a world where effort does not always reap its just rewards, it is reassuring to encounter a situation that does. Such is the case with “Dance Lexie Dance,” a short movie produced by Derry-based Raw Nerve Productions in association with BBC Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Film Commission. Not only have they attracted some of the most powerful players in the film industry, but they received the ultimate stamp of approval with a recent Academy Award nomination in the Best Live Action Short Category. I met with the creative team at a reception at Gilliland’s, owned by Belfast native Geraldine Gilliland, the first of her quartet of restaurants here in Santa Monica.

It was a Saturday evening and the atmosphere was electric. We watched a screening of the movie, a simple yet meaningful tale about a widowed Protestant father (played by B.J. Hogg), his Riverdancing wannabee daughter (12-year-old Kimberley McConky) and his support for her move into a traditionally Catholic, nationalist Irish dancing arena. As well as being a pro-peace and unity story, the film has many charming and humorous moments, from Lexie’s passionate emulation of the Riverdancers in her Mickey Mouse slippers and her dedicated step practice at the bus-stop to Daddy’s awkward sewing attempt to raise the hem of her grossly oversized dancing costume.

The talents behind this endearing piece are Derry duo Tim Loane (director) and Pearse Moore (producer), with writer Dave Duggan, also from Derry, and former RTE director of photography Eugene McVeigh, from Belfast. Beautifully dressed in cool California style, courtesy of Irish designer Paul Costelloe, all four boys took the Oscar opportunity to savor their 15 minutes of fame as did the movie’s star, B.J. Hogg. And, of course, like all good Irishmen, they brought their wives along to share in the glory. Mind you, I strongly suspect that this talented team will far exceed the usual 15-minute fame allotment, considering the company they were keeping in Gilliland’s that evening, together with their impressive track record.

They may not have brought home the Oscar, but they do have the genuine support of no less than movie mogul Frank Price, former head of both Universal Television and Columbia Pictures whose seemingly endless credits include M’ve Binchey’s “Circle of Friends,” “Prince of Tides” and “Rich Man, Poor Man.”

It just so happened that Price was in Belfast when his friends, John and Pat Hume arrived at his hotel, personally escorting a certain Pearse Moore and a copy of “Dance Lexie Dance.” So impressed was the producer with the quality of the film that he had it submitted for Academy Award consideration. With news of the nomination, he decided to host the screening and reception at Gilliland’s, together with Entertainment Weekly publisher Michael Kelly and his writer/producer sister, Mary Pat Kelly (“To Live for Ireland” documentary, “Saturday Night Live,” “Good Morning America” and Martin Scorsese books “The First Decade” and “The Journey”). He stressed his personal interest in the talented team, and his intention to give them and their “phenomenal achievement” the recognition, visibility and encouragement they deserve. Indeed, he did just that, sending the boys home with a trunk of influential contacts and renewed confidence.

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Back in Derry, the next project in the works is an as yet untitled half-hour animated movie, due for theatrical release toward the end of this year. In the meantime, they will continue their work at the Nerve Center, their award-winning multimedia arts center, which provides a creative and cultural outlet for the young and unemployed in Derry and Northern Ireland. Considering that the center was only established in 1995, it has made tremendous achievements, now employing a staff of six professional animators and computer designers, and receiving critical acclaim for its first CD compilation, “Some Nerve,” which sold throughout Ireland and the U.K. and was made Album of the Week on Radio Ulster and Dave Fanning’s RTE radio show. Also, one of their prodigy bands, Cuckoo, has recently signed with Geffen Records. All this, together with an Academy Award nomination, amounts to a very impressive string of accomplishments and a wonderful statement of hope for the otherwise unemployed locals.

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