Queer As Folk

Folk choir visa scam hits screen

It's one of those stories so odd that it must be true. In 1999, a group of 41 Romanians disguised themselves as folk musicians, complete with fake awards and testimonials, and applied to take part in Ireland's Sligo International Choral Festival. The organiser of the festival, a priest, immediately booked them for the opening night on the strength of all those awards. Bucharest's honorary Irish consul happily issued visas for all 41 members of the choir, impressed that they had even heard of Sligo - and failed to pick up on the fact that the name of the group, Dorul, means "desire for freedom" in Romanian. Once in Dublin the group melted into thin air, with some members claiming asylum and others still not located. Now a film called Sliding Dice has been produced, starring and co-written by Barry Mulligan, the Irish consul who issued the visas. The film will be a fictionalised account of the scheme, starring Mulligan as a con-man trying to help the group come up with an alternative to stowing away in cargo containers in order to reach Ireland. Mulligan hopes that the film will help the Irish understand why so many Romanians left their country for Ireland during the 1990s, and counter some of the bad press that the immigrants have received. "The Irish have a natural respect for the underdog, for somebody who manages to get on with their life through adverse times," he said. "This was a pretty innocent scam and we think it was their own initiative." Look out for Sliding Dice at film festivals later this year.