Film about British Muslim spy tortured by Nazis sees Sky News anchor team with NI director

A film director from Northern Ireland has teamed up with a UK news anchor for a piece of cinema celebrating the bravery of a British Muslim spy during World War Two.

Friday, 3rd September 2021, 9:10 pm
Updated Friday, 3rd September 2021, 9:13 pm
Sam Naz and Christopher Hanvey on set of LIBERTÉ
Sam Naz and Christopher Hanvey on set of LIBERTÉ

Sam Naz makes her big screen debut in the lead role in Liberte – a short film directed and co-produced by Christopher Hanvey from Portadown.

The freelance journalist, currently on Sky News, also wrote the film having been inspired by the story of Noor Inayat Khan – held captive and tortured by the Nazi regime before being sent to Dachau concentration camp.

Christopher, who is originally from Portadown, said: “I went to London to train as an actor. When I graduated, as well as being an actor I started to produce my own work, my own plays in London.”

Freelance journalist Sam Naz is currently a news anchor on Sky News

He has also produced music and corporate videos as well as documentaries.

Christopher met Sam when he was working for an award-winning London production company making showreels for actors.

He said: “We kept in touch. She was telling me about Noor’s story. I was fascinated. She sent me a feature script and I suggested we do a short film from within the film focusing on her final days.

“The actual person was in solitary confinement for 10 months, that leant itself to filming during the pandemic with a cast of just two people.”

Noor Inayat Khan

He said: “The premiere is in LA, we’re working on more UK screenings. We’re looking at options for Northern Ireland hopefully before Christmas. It will definitely be released online in the new year.”

Sam said: “I don’t think I ever had the courage to go down the route where I said I wanted to be a screenwriter or an actress or work in films in any way. I grew up in quite a traditional working class family in Birmingham – that traditional Asian culture of ‘be a doctor, be a lawyer, get an education’.

“At uni I started thinking about journalism, but being on TV wasn’t a part of the plan. I fell into that a little bit.

“This story is one that I found about eight to 10 years ago, I read an article about Noor. I couldn’t believe there was a war hero who looked like me and I knew nothing about her growing up.

Sam Naz as Noor Inayat Khan

“I cared enough about this story to create something special to remember her as a tribute but also to showcase my screenwriting, producing and acting and see where it leads.”

The film’s soundtrack is a piece called ‘La Monotonia’, composed in Noor’s memory by her brother – this is the first time it’s been used in this way.

Sam added: “I’m nervous and excited about the film being out there. Playing Noor is a huge responsibility. I didn’t take that lightly.

“The film doesn’t shy away from the awful things she had to endure. We had to do that to show the hero she was. She didn’t crack, she didn’t let her team down.”

NI director Christopher Hanvey

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