Irish premiere of Wildfire ‘fitting tribute’ to memory of star Nika McGuigan, says father Barry

Christopher Leebody

The premiere of a film starring the late daughter of former boxing champion Barry McGuigan is to take place on Sunday in memory of the actress who died from cancer.

Wildfire features Nika McGuigan and Nora-Jane Noone as Irish sisters who try and unearth the past and the mystery of their mother’s death in a small Irish border town.

Nika died from cancer in 2019 aged 33-years-old, not long after filming on Wildfire had wrapped up.

The premiere of the award-winning film at Barry McGuigan Park in the Co Monaghan town of Clones is to be dedicated to the memory of the late actress.

Father Barry said it will be a “fitting tribute” to her.

“My family and I are delighted that the first outdoor screening of my beloved daughter Nika’s film is being shown in my hometown of Clones,” he said.

“Our hearts are broken that Nika is not here to see the success of her last performance but my family and I are comforted to see it on the big screen with our friends, family and the community in Clones.

“It is a fitting tribute to her legacy and exceptional talent.

“My sincere thanks to Wildcard Distribution, the amazing volunteers in Clones Film Festival and the support of all in Monaghan County Council.”

In the film Nika plays Kelly, a woman who returns from the UK to her home in Ireland after being missing for a year.

Her sister Lauren, played by The Magdalene Sisters star Noone, is both ecstatic and furious with her. It soon emerges that they are psychologically scarred by the death of their mother in mysterious circumstances.

Speaking to the Sunday World, director Cathy Brady said seeing Nika on the screen is “heartbreaking” and “bittersweet”, as she dedicated the film to her.

"She's got this incredible ­performance and as a director when you get to see someone reveal themselves and put every ounce of themselves into it you go, 'That's it, that's it',” she said.

"I'm so grateful we had that.

"Studio executives in America saw the film and were going, 'Who is this girl?' Then they realised she is no longer with us and it's very hard to wrap your head around.

"During the edit when she wasn't well she went to the doctor and between that and her death was just five weeks.

"I obviously had to take some time away from the film because it was just so painful editing and seeing her on screen. In many ways it was like a very long goodbye.

"But because the film meant so much to all of us - and I know how much it meant to Nika - I had to finish it. I had to do it for us all. It took every ounce of energy to do but I had an amazing team that ­literally helped me get to that finish line.”

Wildfire is set to be released in Ireland and Northern Ireland on September 3 2021.

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