Wednesday 12 December 2018

Absolute beginner a knockout as film role brings top acting award

Lynne Kelleher

A YOUNG Irish star of the film 'Song for a Raggy Boy' has won an international film accolade in his first ever acting role.

John Travers, who is just 14, was picked as the star of the movie about cruelty in a boys' reformatory school. Filmmakers spotted him at his local boxing club in Belfast.

The teenager, who starred alongside Aidan Quinn, had never read a script before arriving at the movie set in Cork last summer. And now he has scooped the Best Actor gong at the Cherbourg Irish and British Film Festival in France for his portrayal of Liam in the movie.

The film, co-financed by the Irish Film Board, centres around institutional abuse at St Jude's Reformatory School in the late 1930s. The teenager said he was shocked to be named best actor.

And he added: "Everybody kept saying 'well done'. My parents were very shocked."

The movie, which opens nation-wide in Ireland on October 17, also won the Audience Award for Best Film at the festival.

The young actor said he never thought of becoming a movie star and only ended up in an audition when the makers of the movie came to his local boxing club. He added: "I was at my boxing club, The Star ABC Boxing Club in Belfast, last year just before the summer. I was going to Cyprus on my holidays that day. The trainer came over and asked me to go to some interview or audition. I thought it was a boxing interview.

"When I went in, I found out it was for the film and they called me back and thought I was good. I didn't really know how I got the part out of all the people there."

The young actor, from New Lodge Road in Belfast, said he was quite daunted when he first arrived down to the set in Ballyvourney in Cork last summer but actor Aidan Quinn and director Aisling Walsh put him at ease.

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