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Cameras Roll on A Christmas Star

Posted on 15th November 2014 | Cinemagic News

Cameras started to roll on Cinemagic's 'A Christmas Star' tonight as Christmas came early  for the young cast including 12 year old Dublin girl Zena Donnelly, when she gave the performance of her life in front of 12,500 people at Belfast City Hall, for the final scene in the feature production.

Zena is one of the lucky young actors taking part in A Christmas Star, the first ever feature film to be made by Cinemagic International Film and Television Festival for Young People, marking the beginning of a year of 25th Anniversary celebrations.


As part of Belfast City Council’s Christmas Lights Switch-On, Cinemagic filmed a crowd scene in which festive crowds joined with Zena as she performed We Can Shine, the closing song from A Christmas Star.

Cinemagic Chief Executive, Joan Burney Keatings, MBE said: “I could not be more proud of Zena. She has the most amazing voice and also nerves of steel to sing in front of what must surely be one of the biggest musical crowd scenes in film history!

“Our Christmas feature film will bring young people from different cultural backgrounds together, and representatives from the worlds of film, television and music will collaborate to celebrate creativity and highlight the importance of developing young people’s skills and offering them unique film and television related opportunities.

“The industry professionals will mentor the young cast and crew throughout the film production process from script to screen, giving invaluable insights to the world of filmmaking across various film disciplines ranging from directing, acting and production to script editing, film composition, and costume/makeup. The young people will finish the project with a wealth of skills, experience, and, most importantly, their first credit on a feature film.”

Despite her tender years, Zena is no stranger to the big stage, having performed at Voice in a Million at Wembley Arena and an impromptu performance with Whitney Houston in 2010 at the 02 (now 3arena). Zena said:

“I'm ecstatic!! For something so big and so amazing as A Christmas Star to happen to me, I am overwhelmed. I feel like I have been given an opportunity of a lifetime and a role in a truly inspiring film. All the people I have met are so nice and so much fun and I can’t wait to start filming with them.”

A host of film and television professionals will lend their support to the ground-breaking film production that will engage with hundreds of young people, marking the beginning of a year of Cinemagic’s 25th Anniversary celebrations.

Among those involved in the production are Cinemagic patron Liam Neeson who will provide the film’s voiceover, Oscar winning film producer, Gareth Ellis Unwin (The King’s Speech), Rob James-Collier (Downton Abbey), Bronagh Waugh (The Fall) and Suranne Jones (Scott & Bailey, The Crimson Field).

Scott & Bailey star Suranne Jones said:

“I’m really looking forward to being part of A Christmas Star and playing a football coach with the very sporty name of Alex Ferguson. I have been involved in the fabulous work of Cinemagic for many years and working with a young and energetic cast and crew on this film is going to be a wonderful adventure for us all.”

The Fall actress Bronagh Waugh said:

“I have been involved with Cinemagic for a number of years, both as a participant and now as a patron, and I am so impressed with the work that it does with young people who want to get into the creative industries. A Christmas Star is a delightful script and I love the whole concept of actors like myself working alongside the young cast and crew on this film.”

Making the final cut has been a dream come true for the young people who will be part of an exciting three-week film shoot in November and December in locations around Belfast and Glenarm.

The leading role of Noelle, the heroine of the film, will be played by Erin Galway-Kendrick from Newtownards. The 12-year-old pupil from Regent House School said:

“I am so excited to be a part of A Christmas Star and I am very grateful to Cinemagic for casting me as Noelle. It’s going to be a fantastic experience and a wonderful film. I can't wait to meet everyone and start filming.”

9-year-old Aoife Hughes from Newry who attends Rowandale Integrated Primary School said:

“This is the best thing that has ever happened to me and I cannot wait to be part of the movie! I feel so fortunate to have been given this opportunity considering the number of children who auditioned. I am so excited anticipating what it will be like to perform in a movie. I’m looking forward to meeting new friends, working together as a cast and having great fun!”

12 year-old John Moan lives in Warrenpoint and attends Abbey Grammar in Newry. His mother Jane said:

“This has been John’s first audition and I am so impressed with how engaged he has been with the whole process.”

11-year old Alecoe Haughey from Killybegs in Co. Donegal attends Niall Mor NS. Her mother Anne  said:

“From an early age she performed little shows at home with her brother and declared almost from when she could speak that she wanted to be an actress. Finding out she has been selected for a part in A Christmas Star is just a dream come true for Alecoe. She has enjoyed every minute of each audition. She has made new friends and hopefully will make a lot more. With each additional callback her confidence grew and getting the final offer of a part was just a joy beyond words for Alecoe. She just can't wait for the filming to begin.”

This unique, educational and cultural film will be screened by BBC NI and UTV simultaneously at Christmas time in 2015, and will further reach a global audience through Cinemagic in the USA, Great Britain and Ireland.

The project is supported by OFMDFM, Creative Skillset, Tourism Ireland, Aer Lingus, BBC NI, UTV, Department for Social Development, George Best Belfast City Airport, Panavision and Arts & Business Northern Ireland.

For further details on A Christmas Star search for the film on facebook and twitter.  


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Press Information

For further information, contact Richard Gaston 07903 085533 or richard@cinemagic.org.uk

Cinemagic Patrons

  • Liam Neeson
  • Pierce Brosnan
  • Dermot O‚ÄôLeary
  • Terry George
  • Brian Cox
  • Lisa Henson
  • Suranne Jones
  • Julian Fellowes
  • Christine Bleakley
  • Seamus McGarvey
  • Ciaran McMenamin
  • Colin Farrell
  • Patrick Bergin
  • Ros Hubbard
  • John Hubbard
  • Gary Knell
  • Rachel Kavanagh
  • Aidan Power
  • Mark Huffam
  • Saoirse Ronan
  • Craig Doyle
  • Robbie Sheehan
  • Bruce Reynolds
  • Marc Mallett
  • Bronagh Waugh