James Nesbitt and Liam Neeson star in award-winning director Oliver Hirschbiegel’s Five Minutes Of Heaven, a unique one-off drama for BBC Two that explores aspects of Northern Ireland’s troubled past and the challenges the future holds in coming to terms with it.
The story begins in 1975 when 17-year-old Alistair Little, a member of the UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force) murdered a 19-year-old Catholic, Jim Griffin, in Lurgan. He was arrested two weeks later, along with three others involved in the shooting, and convicted. Jim’s murder was witnessed by his 11-year-old brother, Joe Griffin. Five Minutes Of Heaven, directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel (Downfall) and written by Guy Hibbert (Omagh) is a fictional account inspired by actual events.
Working closely with both men, screenwriter Guy Hibbert creates a unique and compelling film that moves from a powerful re-enactment of these tragic events to a fictional interpretation of what might happen should these two men ever come face-to-face. The film explores the impact of the legacy of violence on both men.
Interviews with Joe and Alistair have taken place with their full consent over a three-year period in a series of separate consultations with writer Guy Hibbert. In real life Joe and Alistair have never met.
The drama, to be screened on BBC Two in April, recently won two awards at the Sundance Film Festival, including the World Cinema Screenwriting Award for Guy Hibbert and the World Cinema Directing Award for Oliver Hirschbiegel.
Joe Griffin is played by BAFTA-nominated actor James Nesbitt (Murphy’s Law, Bloody Sunday). The role of Alistair, 30 years on, is played by Liam Neeson, best known for his role as Oskar Schindler in Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-winning Schindler’s List.
Five Minutes Of Heaven is produced by Eoin O’Callaghan at Big Fish Films and Stephen Wright from BBC Northern Ireland. Executive produced by Patrick Spence from BBC Northern Ireland, Paul Trijbits from Ruby Films and Cameron McCracken from Pathe.