Piper Alpha documentary set for Edinburgh premiere

SURVIVORS of the Piper Alpha Tragedy relive the full horror of the disaster in a searing new documentary set to get a high-profile world premiere this week at the Edinburgh International Film Festival.

Picture: submitted
Picture: submitted
Picture: submitted

Fire in the Night is being shown at the Edinburgh International Film Festival on Thursday ahead of being shown on network television to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the tragedy.

Adapted from a book by The Scotsman journalist Stephen McGinty, the 90-minute feature charts the full horror unfolding minute-by-minute on board the oil rig.

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Workers and rescuers speak of the battle to survive a series of huge explosions, which eventually toppled the rig, while a number of new dramatic reconstructions, including underwater sequences, have been filmed for the documentary.

Fire in the Night also features behind-the-scenes footage of the workers on the rig before the disaster unfolded, live audio material of the chaotic rescue operation, archive material captured on the night of the tragedy and the aftermath as the scale of the loss of life became clear.

Survivors relive the life-or-death decisions taken amid the escalating inferno and their desperate attempts to escape the rig, and also speak about the ongoing impact the disaster still has on their lives.

Fire in the Night, which is in the running for the revived “audience award” at this year’s film festival, was made by STV Productions, although it will be screened by BBC2 next month.

In the official programme for this year’s festival, artistic director Chris Fujiwara describes Fire in the Night as a “riveting new documentary.”

He said: “The film skilfully combines archival footage and audio recordings with present-day interviews to recreate the suspense and horror of the disaster and to unfold the complex emotions of those who survived.

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“In so doing, filmmaker Anthony Wonke gives a surface logic to an unimaginable scene of horror and chaos.

“Above all, Fire in the Night represents an immense effort to restore an image of the disaster that would somehow correspond to the memories of the survivors.”