New film by Derry comic huge hit in Australia

 

In Australia it's being billed as the luck of the Irish. A first film by a one-time backpacker from Derry, a comedy made on a shoestring budget, has cleaned up at the box office.

Jimeoin, as he is popularly known in Australia, is a successful stand-up comic who has spent three years writing an almost autobiographical comedy screenplay called The Craic.

To everyone's surprise the film, whose title has to be explained in all the publicity notes because the audience neither knows what it means nor how to pronounce it, has become a hit.

It took almost Aus$2 million (£977,000) during its first week in cinemas, placing it in the same opening league as acclaimed Australian films such as Muriel's Wedding and The Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert.

That's not bad for a film which cost $3 million to make, seven weeks to shoot and was described by the film critic of the Sydney Morning Herald "as cheap and cheerful as a counter lunch".

Jimeoin (32), who has lived in Australia for 15 years and became a citizen five years ago, has few explanations as to why the film, in which he also stars, is currently Australia's number two movie behind the big budget US sci-fi thriller The Matrix.

The Craic tells the story of two backpackers who are forced to flee Northern Ireland after an incident with an IRA hit-man. They find themselves on the run from the Australian immigration authorities for overstaying their visas and just about everyone else when they are mistaken for terrorists, in a romp which makes the most of the outback and beach locations.

"The film is set in 1988, the year that I arrived in Australia to live in Bondi with a lot of illegal immigrants," Jimeoin said. "It in some ways documents my experiences during that period with a slight exaggeration of the truth. Well, big actually."

The former butcher's apprentice, carpenter and quantity surveyor wrote and starred in the film which he also co-produced. ere in the small state capital of Hobart in Tasmania.

The Craic may be shown at the Cannes Film Festival at the end of this month.