A new series of groundbreaking documentaries by the Belfast Media Group on four exceptional individuals facing daunting challenges premiered on the Irish national Irish language channel TG4 this week.
An Irish-speaking U.S. soldier in Afghanistan, a senior Irish republican grappling with the changes in policing in the North, a New York entrepreneur raising £12 million for a Cork start-up and a oil explorer in South America all feature in the four-part series entitled “Dúshlán” (“Challenge”), which can be viewed on www.tg4.ie.
Directed by Donegal native Sonia Nic Jones, the first programme “An Saighdiúr” follows Sgt. Séamus O Fianghusa, a Brooklyn native of Korean and Irish heritage, as he travels to the frontline in Afghanistan. As Sgt. O Fianghusa of the Fighting 69th wrestles with the option of taking on a further tour of duty in the war-ravaged country, we meet his family in New York – who would like him to step down from the military – and join him on a visit to his beloved Donegal Gaeltacht. In a trip to West Belfast, Sgt Ó Fianghusa meets with a republican ex-prisoner who tells him that if the pair met in Afghanistan, they would likely be on different sides.
Irish-American photojournalist and filmmaker Kevin McKiernan embedded with U.S. troops in Afghanistan to film alongside Sgt. O Fianghusa’s platoon.
In subsequent weeks, the documentary series will focus on Gearóid Ó hEara, the former S.F. mayor of Derry who bid to be Chair of the Northern Ireland Policing Board in 2011, as well as on Niall Ó Muilleoir, a New York-based venture capitalist, and globetrotting oil and gas explorer Dave Horgan who travels to Peru and Bolivia to broker new business deals.
Ó Muilleoir, a former Fine Gael press officer who moved to the U.S. in 2007 to pursue business opportunities has previously worked with the Irish Technology Leadership Group on the west coast. From his office above the Avenue of the Americas, Ó Muilleoir has becoming a key interlocutor in securing venture capital for Irish start-ups in recent years.
The programs were made by the recently established TV production arm of Belfast Media Group, Bóthar Ard.
Said series director Sonia Nic Jones: “It is great to have directed a series that gives the audience an insight into people’s lives and also takes a fresh look at the challenges facing these individuals in their working environments. The documentary is a mix of hand-held observational footage cut with beautifully crafted shots of the countries visited with each individual.”
The series can be viewed on www.tg4.ie