Westmeath Rural Arts are launching a film club in Sonna Hall on Friday May 7 at 8pm with the showing of a selection of films with Westmeath connections. The feature film for this first Film Friday will be The First Great Train Robbery (1979 ), directed by Michael Crichton and starring Sean Connery and Donald Sutherland, a significant part of which was filmed in Westmeath.
The film is based on Crichton’s own novel of the same name and has been described as a stylish thriller. It’s set in Victorian England where a master criminal makes elaborate plans to steal a shipment of gold from a moving train.
However the majority of the filming did take place in Ireland and much of the train action which is supposed to take place between London and Folkstone was filmed along the 28 mile section between Athlone and Mullingar of the former Midland Great Western Railway rail line between Dublin and Galway.
The station at Moate was converted to a Victorian period look and the then CIE restored the water tower to working order. Further filming took place in Cork and Dublin and it created quite a stir in the capital city when the large Heuston name at the front of the station was covered over with London Bridge!
Another special feature of the evening will be the showing of three locally made short documentaries which will be introduced by the director, Westmeath native Fiona McGinty. Two of the films were made in Ballynacargy and Milltown with the local youth clubs, with the third recording the experiences of new immigrants to Mullingar. Having the director present is a real bonus.
Admission to this event is a recession busting €2 and this will cover membership of the film club for the night. Seating is strictly limited to 50 in the second storey balcony of the hall so come early to be guaranteed your seat. It is hoped this will be just the first in a series of film nights in the area.