Lyra McKee was a celebrated Belfast investigative journalist. Internationally published, she had a track record of giving communities - who had either been silenced or forgotten - a voice. She shone a light on difficult issues, specific to Northern Ireland: post-conflict suicide, equal rights for the LGBTQ+ community, historic cases of injustices and unsolved crimes. She became known as a voice of her generation - a ‘Ceasefire Baby’ who fearlessly investigated neglected injustices of Northern Ireland’s past, often criss-crossing fractured religious divisions.
At the age of 29 Lyra was shot dead by Irish Dissident Republicans as she observed a riot in Derry. The New IRA claimed responsibility for her death.
The shooting and killing of Lyra McKee saw tributes flood in from all over the world. US Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, held a press conference and minute’s silence in Lyra’s memory.
Lyra is an intimate film made by her close friend, BAFTA award winning documentarian, Alison Millar. The film allows the audience to grow up with Lyra in 90’s Belfast, as she narrates her own story through salvaged voice recordings and interviews from her dictaphone. Text messages, home movie footage and archive from the past and present is interwoven by award winning film editor Chloe Lambourne to allow the audience to grow close to Lyra. Intimate access to her mum, sister Nichola and partner Sara, captures the raw pain and quest for justice throughout the days and months that follow Lyra’s death.
Director Alison Millar says: “Lyra’s death was, to many, a sharp puncture to the future of a country trying to move beyond its past. I hope this documentary will introduce a new audience to Lyra and her work. The film is an urgent story that reflects life today in contemporary Northern Ireland as we approach the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Peace Agreement. Lyra's story and work represents her generation and reminds us why we cannot allow the dark shadows of the past to return.”
Hillary Rodham Clinton, Executive Producer for HiddenLight, said: "We are delighted to see Lyra having its premiere at the Sheffield documentary festival. HiddenLight decided to partner on the film because we are about celebrating the best in humanity and in journalism, and Lyra represents both. With the Good Friday Agreement under threat, the film could not be more timely and is an important watch for anyone concerned about peace in Northern Ireland.”
Louisa Compton, Head of News and Current Affairs and Specialist Factual and Sport for Channel 4, said: “Channel 4 is proud to have commissioned this poignant and heartbreaking film. Lyra McKee was a queer hero and a trailblazer in so many ways and we hope this film will demonstrate how important her work was and continues to be.”
Siobhan Sinnerton, Executive Producer for HiddenLight and previously Commissioning Editor for Channel 4, said: “As a Belfast-native I have always been cautious about making films about ‘The Troubles’. But when brilliant Northern Irish director Ali Millar decided that she wanted to make a film about the life and loss of her friend and mentee Lyra McKee I knew it was going to be very special. And it is. Lyra was funny, kind, and trailblazing and her work and her stories tell us so much about why peace in Northern Ireland matters to us all.”
Richard Williams, Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Screen said: “This powerful documentary about Lyra McKee is a special and unique portrayal of the life and passing of the journalist. The film amplifies Lyra’s renowned investigative work and seeks answers over her untimely death. We were honoured to support Alison Millar at Erica Starling Productions to produce this emotional documentary sharing Lyra’s voice and message.”
Lyra will screen at Sheffield Documentary Festival 2022 Sunday 26th June at 1815pm and Monday 27th at 13.00pm. It will air on Channel 4 in 2023. It has also been nominated for the Tim Hetherington Award.
Lyra is a 1 x 90” produced by Erica Starling Productions for Channel 4 in association with TG4, HiddenLight Productions and Northern Ireland Screen. The director is Alison Millar. Film Editor Chloe Lambourne, Co-produced by Jackie Doyle and music by David Holmes. The Executive Producers for Erica Starling are Edward Watts, Greg Darby and Andrew Eaton. For HiddenLight - Hillary Clinton, Chelsea Clinton and Siobhan Sinnerton (also formerly Channel 4 Commissioning Editor). The Executive Producer for TG4 is Proinsias Ní Ghrainne. It was commissioned for Channel 4 by Louisa Compton, Head of News and Current Affairs and Specialist Factual and Sport. Louisa Compton is also Executive Producer.