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Besom Productions

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Margo Harkin


Margo was born in Derry and continues to live and work in her home town. She is the founder and Managing Director of Besom Productions Ltd. and works both as a Director and a Producer on films and as a Producer on Arts events.


1971 - 1974 Dip A.D. Fine Art (Hons.)The Ulster College of Art & Design, Belfast

1981 - 1982 Post Graduate Course in Theatre Design with Percy Harris & Hayden Griffin, Riverside Studios, London (awarded A.C.N.I. Bursary)


1974 - 1977:

Art Teacher, St. Peter's Boys Secondary School, Creggan, Derry.


Organiser NI Department Economic Development sponsored Community Mural Scheme, Derry. Awarded Arts Council grant to paint own mural design on Mourne Bar gable, Derry. Co-ordinated a community mural scheme throughout city.

1978 - 1979:

Art & Crafts Tutor, Derry Youth & Community Workshop, a skills centre for unemployed youth in one of Europe's unemployment black spots.

1979 - 1980:

Deputy Director: Derry Youth & Community Workshop (as above).


Theatre Experience: In 1980 Margo's career changed direction with the founding of Field Day Theatre Company in Derry during a highly volatile period in N.Ireland's politics. Field Day's founding board members were Playwright Brian Friel, Actor Stephen Rea, Poet Seamus Heaney, Writer Seamus Deane, Poet Tom Paulin and Filmmaker David Hammond. Their intention was to create a space, a 'fifth province,' that transcended the crippling oppositions of Irish politics. This had an influence on Margo Harkin's future direction as a practising artist in different fields and most particulary as a filmmaker. Her own first film as a director 'Hush-A-Bye Baby' was later included in the Women's edition of the Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing.


Assistant Stage Manager: Brian Friel's Translations for Field Day Theatre Company, 9 month touring production, directed by Art Ó Briain, featuring Stephen Rea, Liam Neeson, Ray McNally and Nuala Hayes.


Assistant Designer: Chekov's Three Sisters translated by Brian Friel for Field Day Theatre Company, featuring Stephen Rea, Eamon Kelly, Sorcha Cusack, Colm Meaney, James Ellis and Olwen Fouéré.

Designer: Ben Johnson's The Alchemist, featuring Tilda Swindon for Cambridge Footlights.

Designer: The Cage, for the Drama Centre, London.


Designer: Aladdin pantomime for Richmond Theatre, London.

Designer: Peter Cox's Up to the Sun and Down to the Centre directed by Danny Boyle, featuring Adrian Dunbar, Brenda Fricker and Bríd Brennan.

Designer: Brian Friel's The Communication Cord for Field Day Theatre Co. directed by Joe Dowling, featuring Stephen Rea, Gerard McSorley, Fidelma Cullen and Ann Hasson.


Organiser: Inner City Carnival (1st Year) for Derry City Council (Organised a series of arts events, outdoor concerts and street performances at the height of the `Troubles').

Designer: Donizetti's opera Daughter of the Regiment for the Opera House, Belfast.

Designer: Athol Fugard's Boesman & Lena for Field Day Theatre Co. directed by Clare Davidson, featuring Stephen Rea and Deirdre Donnelly.


Credits in chronologic order since the company formation include the following:


Co-founded Derry Film & Video Collective - with charitable status (for non-broadcast educational & community training work). Awarded ACNI Individual artist's grant to assist with formation of company.


Co-founded Derry Film & Video Workshop, a Channel 4 franchised Independent workshop (for professional broadcast work).

1984 -1990:

General Manager & Fundraiser of 2 companies comprising 7 filmmakers producing film & video work over a 6-year period.


Producer 'Mother Ireland' a 52' documentary directed by Anne Crilly on the historical allegorical representation of Ireland as a woman. It included an interview with Mairéad Farrell who was killed by the SAS while on active service as an IRA member in Gibraltar on 6 March 1988. The film was automatically banned under the Hurd (Douglas Hurd) censorship legislation introduced on 19 October 1988. It was screened 3 years later on 11 April 1991 at 23.00 hrs in a censored version on the Channel 4 'Banned' season.

Winner: 'Best Documentary' award at the Femmes Cathodiques Festival France. Screened at many international festivals and on European television and has been widely anthologised.


Co-Writer & Director 'Hush-A-Bye Baby' 1990, an award-winning drama feature about teenage pregnancy. It had a theatric release in Ireland and France and was broadcast on RTÉ (Ireland) and C4 (UK) with TV broadcast sales internationally. Singer Sinêad O'Connor wrote the score for the film and was cast in a small role. The film won `Best Drama' at The International Celtic Film Festival in Gweedore, Co Donegal and went on to garner several other international awards. The film has been widely anthologised and is used as a resource in Media Studies and Irish Studies curricula and discourse in universities in Ireland, Europe and America. In an anthology of Irish film it was described as "...a ground-breaking film."

FILMOGRAPHY: with BESOM PRODUCTIONS LTD., formed October 1992.

Credits, starting with the most recent, include the following:


2015: Producer: Work in progress: a 30 min website film for Artichoke based around the creation and burning of artist David Best's 'Temple' project in Derry~Londonderry on 21 March 2015.


2013/14: Co-Producer: An internet, website based project commissioned by Culture Company 2013. houses educational materials, including comic book versions of the Siege of Derry with the aim of staging a theatrical 'Trial of Lundy' in 2016. A new Charitable Status company 'Trial of Lundy Ltd.' has been formed for this purpose.


2013: Producer / Director: 1 x 60' doc on the large scale arts event, devised by Frank Cottrell Boyce, staged on the River Foyle and streets of Derry as the midsummer highlight of Derry~ Londonderry City of Culture 2013. TX on BBC N Ireland on 9 December 13 at 22.45 hrs and on BBC4 on 6 January 2014 at 19.30 hrs.

THE FAR SIDE OF REVENGE (Recut 59' Verison)

2013: Producer/Director: 59' doc on the work of Teya Sepinuck of Theatre of Witness - giving voice to Northern Irish women's TV stories in a post conflict society. Original feature version premiered at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival on 21 February 2012. Recut version for TV broadcast on BBC N Ireland on 13 November 2013 at 22.35 hrs.


2012/13: Producer/Director: 3 x 30' documentary series for BBCNI on the Derry/Londonderry boat in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race through the eyes of 3 unemployed Derry City Council Bursary winners. Prog 1 TX: 17 June 13 at 22.45 hrs, Prog 2 TX: 24 June at 22.35 hrs; Prog 3 TX: 1 July at 22.35 hrs.


2011/12: Producer/Director: 72' feature doc/Festival version on the work of Teya Sepinuck of Theatre of Witness - giving voice to Northern Irish women's stories in a post conflict society. Awarded Arts Council of Ireland / Filmbase 'Reel Art' scheme funding in January 2011. Premiered at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival on 21 February 2012.


2010/11: Producer: 60' doc directed by Alison Millar in co-production with Erica Starling Productions on 'Orange Women' for BBCNI with co-funding from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland. TX on BBC1 (NI) at 9.00pm 21 March 2011, repeated at 10.35 on 11 July 2011.


2010: Producer: 30' doc on Belfast pensioners who run their own radio show, directed by Aaron Black in co-production with Alison Millar of Erica Starling Productions. TX on BBC1 (NI) at 10.35 on 31 January 2011, repeated on BBC1 (NI) at 10.35 on 5 July 2011.


2010: Producer/Director: 86' (revised cut) authored doc following the Tribunal of Inquiry into Bloody Sunday from the POV of three people profoundly affected by the original events. The final version includes the verdict of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry under Lord Saville on 15 June 2010. Finance RTÉ, Irish Film Board, ZDF Germany, NIFTC Lottery Fund. TX on RTÉ on 24 June 2010 at 22.35 hrs.


2010: Producer: 40' doc. directed by Alison Millar in co-production with Erica Starling Productions (Belfast). Alison follows Harry Hamilton, lead singer of Queen tribute band 'Flash Harry,' as he moves onto the political stage for the first time, to stand for the Ulster Conservative and Unionist New Force Party in the Westminster elections. TX on 5 July 2010 at 22.35 hrs.


2008/09: Producer: 60' multi award winning doc, directed by Alessandro Negrini on 'the Fountain' a Protestant enclave in Derry for BBCNI. TX on 19 January 2009 at 22.35 hrs. 3rd TX on BBC N Ireland on 16 December at 22.35hrs.


2006/08: Producer: 80' multi award winning feature length creative documentary, in co-production with Inís Films, about surfing on the North Coast of Ireland. Financed by IFB, NIS, Interreg III ICBAN, BBCNI, Revenue Commission of Ireland, S481 and BCI. Screened in festivals worldwide and in the cinema in Ireland and UK. Currently being distributed internationally. TX on BBCNI (1 hour version) on 10 May 2010 at 22.35 hrs.


2007: Producer: 51' 16" doc. directed by Mary Crumlish on the history of Red Hair. Produced in the Irish language for TG4. TX on 19 March 2008 at 21.30 hrs. Repeat on 4 August 2010 at 21.30 hrs.


2002-07: Producer/Director: 83' long term doc following the Tribunal Inquiry into Bloody Sunday from the POV of three people profoundly affected by the original events. Finance RTÉ, Irish Film Board, ZDF Germany, NIFTC Lottery Fund. TX on RTÉ 6 Feb. 07 & on ZDF/Arte on 29 Jan 07.


2006: Co-Producer/Director: 63' doc in Irish language on the 1980/81 Hunger strikes for TG4. Co-production with Inîs Films, Dublin. TX on 4 October 2006.


2006: Co-Producer/Director: 59' 15" documentary on the 1980/81 Hunger strikes for BBCNI. A co-production with Inîs Films, Dublin; TX on 28 June 2006 at 22.40 hrs (Ratings peaked at 40%).


2003/04: Producer: 52' doc for RTÉ on Infidelity. Directed by Jennifer Keegan.


2002/03: Exec. Producer: 40' doc directed by Gerry Hoban for BBCNI on N. Irish men seeking Filipino wives. Broadcast on 20 February 2003. Produced by Emer Hoare.


2002/03: Producer/Director: 75' drama on Personal Development for Ventures, Channel 4 TV, co-financed by C4, NIFTC, IFB & the Community Relations Council. TX 1 December 2003.


2002: Producer: 52' doc in English and Irish directed by Desmond Bell. Co-produced with Asylum Pictures on the storyteller Seá n Ó hEochaidh for RTÉ, TG4, the Irish Film Board & the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Lottery Unit.


2001: Producer/Director: 25' doc on Intergenerational love for RTÉ.


2001: Producer: 3 x 30' series on dialects directed by Séan Maguire and Jo Ann Kaplan for 4 Learning, C4.


2001: Producer: 52' doc, Directed by Lavinia Darby on the rise of cosmetic surgery in Ireland for RTÉ.


2000: Producer/Director: 40' doc personal journey by Unionist Roy Garland into the traitor Lundy at the Siege of Derry - for BBCNI.


1999 : Director: 40' doc on Mixed Religion Marriages for BBCNI. Produced by Fionnuala Sweeney.


1998: Producer: short drama in film noire style for BBCNI. Written by Malachy Martin, Directed by Colin McKeown.


1998: Director: 40' arts doc on internationally acclaimed Irish playwright Frank McGuinness for BBCNI. Produced by Fionnuala Sweeney.


1997: Producer/Director: 5' doc on the politically volatile Orange march at Drumcree for Channel 4, critically acclaimed in reviews. Co-Produced by Fionnuala Sweeney with additional location Directors Dearbhla Walshe and Michael Hewitt.


1996/97: Executive Producer & Co-Director: 5 x 15' Geography series for C4 Schools in Co-production with Doubleband Films, Belfast. Produced by Fionnuala Sweeney.


1996: Executive Producer and Co-Director: 5 x 20' series on music and movement for C4 Schools. Co-Directed by Jo Ann Kaplan and Produced by Fionnuala Sweeney.


1995: Director: 52' doc shot in New York, about female cop who posed for Playboy magazine, Channel 4. Produced by Fionnuala Sweeney.


1994: Director: 5 X 20' Geography series on the coastline and topography of Northern Ireland for C4 Schools. Produced by Antonella Ibba.


MOTHER IRELAND - Produced by Margo Harkin, directed by Anne Crilly.

WINNER: Best Documentary Femmes Cathodiques, France.

HUSH-A-BYE BABY - Produced by Tommy Collins, co-written & directed by Margo Harkin

WINNER: Best Drama Celtic Film Festival, Gweedore1990;

WINNER: Ecumenical Prize Locarno Intl Film Festival, Switzerland 1990;

WINNER: Best Actress, Bronze Leopard (Emer McCourt) Locarno Intl Film Festival 1990;

WINNER: Official Irish Entry, Young European Film of the Year 1990;

WINNER: Best Film, Orleans Film Festival, France1991;

WINNER: Best Actress, (Emer McCourt) Pescara Film Festival, Italy 1992.

FATAL EXTRACTION - 8'short film, written by Malachy Martin, produced by Margo Harkin and directed by Colin McKeown.

SPECIAL MENTION: Festival Mondial du Cinema de Courts Metrages, Huy, Belgium, 1998. Selected by BBC Bristol for transmission.

THE LAST STORYTELLER - in co-production with Asylum Pictures - directed by Desmond Bell for RTÉ & TG4.

SELECTED: 59th Venice Film Festival Aug. 02.

THE HUNGER STRIKE - in co-production with Inís Films, co-produced by Joel Conroy & Margo Harkin, Directed by Margo Harkin.

WINNER: Best Documentary the Boston Irish Film Festival 2007.

BLOODY SUNDAY- A DERRY DIARY - Original Unfinished Version January 2007 - Produced & directed by Margo Harkin.

NOMINATED: Best Documentary, Prix Europa 1997

NOMINATED: Best Documentary, Irish Film & Television Awards 1997

BLOODY SUNDAY - A DERRY DIARY - Final Version completed June 2010 - Produced & directed by Margo Harkin.

NOMINATED: ABC News Video Source Award category for the International Documentary Association (IDA) USA Documentary Awards.

WAVERIDERS Co-prod. with Inís Films, Dublin. Produced by Margo Harkin, directed by Joel Conroy.

WINNER: Audience Award, Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2008

WINNER: The George Morrison Feature Documentary Award, Irish Film & Television Awards 2009

WINNER: Best Documentary, Beloit International Film Festival 2009

WINNER: Best Sports Documentary, Celtic Media Festival, Caernarfon, 2009

WINNER: Outstanding Achievement in Action Sports Filmmaking, Newport Beach Film Festival, April 2009

WINNER: Silver Sierra Award, Yosemite Film Festival, September 2009

WINNER: Best Documentary, 37th Annual Surfer Poll Awards, Los Angeles, September 2009

SHORTLISTED: Grierson Awards 2008

NOMINATION: Best Sound, Irish Film & Television Awards 2009

NOMINATION: Heavy Water (Big Wave Gabe Davies) 37th Annual Surfer Poll Awards, Los Angeles, September 2009

PARADISO Produced by Margo Harkin, directed by Alessandro Negrini.

WINNER: Best Documentary, The Slow Film Festival, Eger, Hungary, July 2009

WINNER: Best Documentary, Golbal Cinema Festival, Indore, India, October 2009

WINNER: Audience Award, Wurzburg Film Festival, Fe. Germany, January 2010

AUDIENCE VOTE: Joint Best Film at 'Documentary in Europe' September 2009 conference event (along with Oscar nominated 'Rabbit a la Berlin'

WINNER: Best Documentary, Dhaka International Film Festival, Bangladesh, January 2010

WINNER: Best Documentary, Arcipelago Rome Film Festival, Italy, July 2010

WINNER: Best Documentary, Padoa International River Film Festival, Italy, July 2010

WINNER: Audience Award, Chichester International Film Festival, England, September 2010

WINNER: Best Film in category 'Rapprochment of Cultures' (to mark UN International Year for the Rapprochment of Cultures) We The People Film Festival, London, November 2010

WINNER: Best Film (overall), We The People Film Festival, London, England, November 2010

WINNER: Audience Award, Milan Docucity Film Festival, Italy, May 2011

SPECIAL MENTION: Main Competition, Milan Docucity Film Festival, Italy, May 2011

WINNER: 'Bronze Bear, Audience Award', 39th Festival of Nations, Ebensee, Austria, June 2011

WINNER: Best Documentary, Ischia Film Festival, Naples, Italy, July 2011

WINNER: Best Director, Palermo Sole Luna Film Festival, Sicily, Italy, July 2011

WINNER: Best Documentary, 6th Lola Kenya Screen Film Festival, August 2011

WINNER: The Audience Award & Best International Documentary Award, 8th portel International Film Festival, Vicenza, Italy, February 2012

THE FAR SIDE OF REVENGE - Produced and directed by Margo Harkin.

WINNER: Best Documentary, Foyle Film Festival, November 2012

NOMINATED: The Artraker Award 2014


1990 - 1991

Part Time Visiting Lecturer at the Department of English, Theatre and Media Studies, University of Ulster at Coleraine.

1990 Writer: Script on HIV prevention aimed at young people for the NI Government Health Promotions Unit.


Director 'The Bloody Sunday Murders' documentary in partnership with Journalist Eamonn McCann for the access Slot 'Free for All' produced by Filmit Productions for Channel 4 Television.


Founded Besom Productions Ltd. as a private limited company. Role: Managing Director & Producer/Director producing work for C4, BBC RTE, TG4 and international television and theatric markets. See Filmography for Besom Productions Ltd.


The Thaw: Margo Harkin and internationally renowned Belfast artist Rita Duffy formed a company called 'Thaw' in 2004 to create public art works for Northern Ireland. The Board of Directors included Pulitzer Prize winning poet Professor Paul Muldoon, Princeton University, Professor Gerry McCormac, Pro Vice Chancellor Queen's University Belfast and Professor Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, Chair in Law, University of Ulster. In 2009 Margo and Rita worked full-time for several months developing a major public art work (also called Thaw') on the theme of the Peace lines in Belfast for 'Artists Taking the Lead' part of the Cultural Olympiad, London 2012. It was shortlisted in two stages - winning through to the last five but was not commissioned. Rita and Margo worked subsequently on the Shirt Factory Project for City of Culture 2013.


The Shirt Factory Project: Margo produced The Shirt Factory Project Art Installation curated by artist Rita Duffy for Derry~Londonderry City of Culture 2013. The installation took place in the basement of the former City Factory in North Edward Street/Patrick Street in Derry - once the largest manufacturer of shirts in the world. The project was an interactive exhibition hosting a permanent exhibition by the artist and many invited artist exhibitions such as '2g' on suicide in Ireland by Seamus McGuinness and the Summer Show of avant garde shirt designs by students of Central Saint Martin's School of Fashion, London. Up-cycling workshops, lectures, storytelling and music events such as The Sewing Machine Orchestra by Martin Messier from Montreal all formed part of the extensive programme from 31 May until the 2 November 2014. Artefacts made from recycled materials made in the factory during the exhibition period were also sold in the pop-up 'Souvenir Shop'.


1991: Alumnus of the American Visitors' Programme in Film.

2001: Completed the Eurodoc (Documentary) MEDIA Training programme (over 1 year in different European countries, Cologne, Germany and Nimes, France).

Nov/Dec 2001: Completed the 3 day Arista Story Editing Workshop, (Ballygally, N. Ireland) run by Stephen Cleary, ARISTA Development, London.

April 2002: Completed Adept Story Editing Course, London run by Stephen Cleary, ARISTA Development, London.

September 2002: Completed the 5 day Advanced Adept Story Editing programme in Ancona Italy, run by Stephen Cleary, ARISTA Development, London.

October 2002: Attended The Film Gathering, Troon, Scotland, 2 day Production Training organised by MEDIA Antenna Scotland and MEDIA Desk Ireland with the support of Scottish Screen.

2005: Attended 'Raising the Bar' 1 day Television Business Skills Programme, Glasgow.

March 2007: Participant 'Tearing Down Walls' 2 day training and Documentary Pitch Symposium, Belfast run by Discovery Campus (MEDIA programme).

Margo is a regular attendee at industry courses on editorial policy, legal issues and industry regulation.


Margo teaches an annual one off masterclass in documentary production at the University of Ulster and has been a consultant and external examiner for media courses at the University of Ulster and at the National University of Ireland, Galway. She has been a guest speaker on many other third level media courses and events and at national and international conferences, seminars and film festivals speaking about her own work and on themes related to women's issues and post conflict society.

In February 2008 she was special guest at the Northern Ireland Film Festival in Tokyo, Japan which screened 'Hush-A-Bye Baby', '12 Days in July' and 'Bloody Sunday-A Derry Diary'.

In December 2009 she was a guest speaker at the Festival of Political Films (U.K.) in Tours, France (Organised by The University of Tours) which featured 'Hush-A-Bye-Baby' and 'Bloody Sunday-A Derry Diary'.

In October 2010 Margo chaired the panel of 'Where is Documentary Going?' Galway, Ireland, with guests panellists Anders Ostergaard (Tin Tin et Moi and Burma VJ), Geoffrey Smith (The English Surgeon), Richie O'Donnell (The Pipe) and Donal Haughey, Film Lecturer at GMIT.

On 14 April 2011 Margo was a keynote speaker at the 'Doing Women's Film History: Reframing Cinema Past & Future' conference organised by the University of Sunderland.

In April 2014 Margo was Keynote Speaker/Filmmaker at 'Salzburg Global Seminar' in Austria.

CURRENT BOARD MEMBERSHIPS & Company Responsibilities

Margo is the Chairperson & Managing Director: Besom Productions Ltd. Edel Harkin is the Secretary and Director of the Company. Besom employs one Personal Assistant on a full-time basis and all other production roles are contracted on a freelance basis.


Director of the Board, Derry Film & Video Collective

Director of the Board, Derry Film & Video C4 Franchised Workshop

Co-founder & Director of the Foyle Film Festival

Co-founder & Director of the Board, Northern Ireland Film Council

Elected Director of the Board of the membership based Northern Ireland Film and Television Council

Vice Chair and Department of Economic Development N.I. appointed Director of the Board of reconstituted Northern Ireland Film and Television Commission

Director of the Board, Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Annamakerrig

Director of the Board, The Irish Film Institute

Director of the Board, The Irish Film & Television Academy

Secretary (Non Director) to the Board of The Thaw Ltd and Member of the Company. (For public artworks with artist Rita Duffy)

Director: StuDio 6ix Ltd. (with the aim of establishing artists' studios in Derry)


In February 2008 Margo was selected as one of three honourees, along with Director Ken Wardrop ('His and Hers') and Cinematographer Tim Fleming, (Oscar nominated film 'Once' - song category) for the 'Irish Spotlight on Talent' by the Jameson Dublin Film Festival in association with Bord Scannán na hÉireann / The Irish Film Board.

In July 2014 Margo was shortlisted for the Artraker Award 2014 for her documentary 'The Far Side of Revenge'. She has been selected to become an Artraker member - an international arts organisation that supports art and culture in areas of conflict around the world.