PRONI – Document of the month goes to the movies

Date published: 03 April 2017

To coincide with the Belfast Film Festival, PRONI has selected as its document of the month, a Ministry of Commerce file which cautions against financial support for the filming of the movie, Odd Man Out. The file which is entitled: Application by "Two Cities Films Ltd" to film in Belfast contains a letter from one of the Arthur Rank Companies and dates from 1946.

Stephen Scarth, Head of Public Services, said: “I selected this file to coincide with the 2017 Belfast Film Festival. It is a request from Two Cities Films Ltd asking the Ministry for their support in filming Odd Man Out in Belfast. Two Cities stress that their adaption will substantively differ from the book and that references to political organisations will not be included. However, it is the response from the Ministry of Commerce which is of particular interest. The Permanent Secretary had written that he could see no commercial opportunities for making a film in Belfast. This contrasts starkly with the position today where the film industry is a massive draw for tourists and Northern Ireland is home to internationally successful brands such as Game of Thrones. Even now, Odd Man Out remains a seminal movie in the history of filmmaking”.

In his letter, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Commerce had redirected the query to the Stormont Cabinet Office, and said:“ As the question whether these people make a film with Belfast as a background has no commercial significance whatever, direct or indirect, such significance as there might be being political and propagandist, the Minister feels that this is a matter for you rather than for us”.

There are other files in PRONI including those in the Ministry of Home Affairs archive which also reference this request and include correspondence from the Inspector General saying that the Minister would feel it undesirable to provide armoured cars which the company had asked for.

Notes to editors: 

  1. PRONI is at 2 Titanic Boulevard, Titanic Quarter, Belfast.  For details on opening hours, see the nidirect website or call 028 90 534800. 
  2. The file relating to Two Cities is COM/7/86. Other material on the subject can be found in HA/32/1/640
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