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Liam Neeson and Gillian Anderson are the latest in a string of Hollywood stars to back GUARD – a boxing film set to go into production in Belfast early next year. So far though, only 80% of the budget has been raised, with seven days to go before the deadline.

Written by The Fall’s Bronagh Taggart – who also penned BBCNI’s 6Degrees – the film is to be directed by husband and fellow Belfast actor, Jonathan Harden, best known for roles in Peep Show and Unforgotten.

Anderson, who has worked with Taggart on the last two series of The Fall, commented:

“I’m delighted to back Bronagh in her efforts to make GUARD. It’s a solid script and it tells an important female story. And I love that she’s donating 5% of the budget to Women’s Aid NI. It’s great to see first-time producers working tirelessly to get a project like GUARD to the screen, but at the same time, making a genuine contribution to the world outside our industry.”

And just weeks after announcing that James Nesbitt will be acting as Executive Producer, the film’s makers have announced that Liam Neeson is also a supporter. It’s a reunion of sorts, as director Jonathan Harden worked with both Nesbitt and Neeson on the award- winning Five Minutes of Heaven in 2008.

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Speaking about the raft of superstar backers, Harden commented:

“The support we’ve had from the industry has been amazing. The other day I woke up to an email from Liam’s agent offering his support. About an hour later, we heard from Gillian. It shouldn’t be a surprise any more, but each new name gives us renewed confidence in what we’re doing. If Liam Neeson likes the script, we must be doing something right! We’re on solid foundations, now we just need to get the money together and get it made.”

Belfast-born Geraldine Hughes, who starred alongside Sylvester Stallone in Rocky Balboa, is the latest name to join the long list of backers. And Hughes, a veteran of Hollywood’s biggest boxing franchise, sees award-winning potential in the project. Speaking from her home in New York, Hughes suggested that Guard could be a contender for an Oscar:

“Jonathan and Bronagh are a courageous pair who are creating a piece of work with great nobility of purpose. I support them 100 percent and am excited that a female character is getting into the ring and will no doubt be bringing another Northern Irish film to the Oscars.”

Those making GUARD are no strangers to success. The team already includes Glengormley BAFTA-winner Michael Lennox, the Emmy award winning casting director of Game of Thrones, Robert Sterne and RTS award-winning local filmmaker Sean Murray.

But there’s still no guarantee the project will reach its target. With only a week left of their crowdfunding campaign, the team are 20% short of the £12,000 needed and are hoping the people of Northern Ireland will step in to get the film made. In return for donating, investors benefit from a range of ‘perks’, including tickets for the premiere, signed memorabilia and exclusive GUARD merchandise. For £10, you can see your name in the credits alongside fellow supporters, including Nesbitt, Neeson, Anderson and Hughes, plus Northern Irish actors Bronagh Waugh, Niamh McGrady, Karen Hassan, Martin McCann and Packy Lee, who have all already contributed. And the team are also pledging 5% of all money raised to Women’s Aid NI.

Speaking from London, James Nesbitt appealed to people to support the film before it’s too late:

“it’s the most magnificent, poignant script and I have every confidence that Jonathan and Bronagh will make it the incredible drama it deserves to be. So go on. Join me. Back Guard.”

To find out more and to back the film, visit: www.belfastboxingfilm.com

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