Born under the Christmas Star, Noelle (Erin Galway-Kendrick) has a gift to perform miracles. When conniving developer and ex-local lad Pat McKerrod (Rob James-Collier) rolls into town, he threatens the very essence of the local village. So Noelle, her best friend Spud-Bob (James Stockdale) and their classmates rally together to thwart his dastardly plans in a bid to save their village.
A Christmas Star is a perfectly enjoyable Christmas family movie that gives audiences of all ages a wonderfully fun yuletide film to help you get into the festive spirit. But the story behind the making of A Christmas Star is far more remarkable and one that really captures the magical essence of the holiday season.
Cinemagic offered young people considerable personal and professional development opportunities whilst making this film. Developing new skills and experience, lots of young hopefuls got their first taste of acting with this project. And this wasn’t just restricted to onscreen talent. Over 40 trainee crew aged 18-25 were mentored by industry professionals as they worked side by side gaining invaluable experience into all aspects of filmmaking.
Erin Galway-Kendrick does very well as Noelle and leads the film with a sparkle in her eye and genuine ease. James Stockdale steals his scenes as Spud-Bob and is frequently at the heart of the film’s funniest moments. Downton Abbey alumni Rob James-Collier clearly has fun playing a pantomime villain and Roma Tomelty gives the film some gravitas when needed.
Richard Clements and Bronagh Waugh also delight as Noelle’s parents and they give writer Maire Campbell’s script a good central relationship to base the film around. Director Richard Elson also has a keen eye for making this production bigger than its means, with the film soaking in some sumptuous locations to really deliver that homely Christmas feel. Zena Donnelly appears in the film and does a great job singing the film’s theme ‘We Can Shine’. Expect big things from her in the future.
The rest of the cast are all solid too. It’s worth noting that there are some cool cameos to be found in A Christmas Star. Liam Neeson narrates the film, playing a radio-host who has some funny observations about Christmas. Former James Bond Pierce Brosnan does well as Mr. Shepherd, the head of a big business empire looking to acquire the local snow-globe factory. Julian Fellowes (of Downton Abbey fame) lends his support in a small cameo as does Kylie Minogue, Dermot O’Leary and Ross King (all playing themselves). Everyone who appears in the film champion the tireless work of Cinemagic, an organisation celebrating their 25th anniversary, so seeing such big names support this project is wonderful to see.
A Christmas Star is perfect festive fun for all ages. But more so, this project delivers something truly special for Christmas. It gives hope to that next generation of actors, ones who don’t necessarily have an easy route into the medium, that their dreams and career aspirations can be achieved. It also highlights Northern Ireland and Ireland’s wealth of creative assets – be it location, cast & crew or undiscovered acting talent. For those reasons and more, A Christmas Star is a fine addition to the holiday film season and one that deserves a warm welcome.