TORONTO (AFP) - Making a film about an IRA infiltrator in Belfast produced its own real-life tension and intrigue, said the director of "50 Dead Men Walking," Kari Skogland, at its Toronto film festival premiere. "I had many secret meetings in dark places. There's no question that we were being watched by all sides. Phones were tapped, there were cameras and various things," Skogland said on Wednesday. "I had meetings with the RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary), all very quiet, because as they said to me, 'We are entrusting our lives in your hands because if anyone knew we're talking to you we could be in jeopardy,'" she said. The filmmaker also had to be "very, very transparent with information" and about her intentions with the film so as not to provoke the wrath of former Irish Republican Army members, she said. "I recognized the very high stakes we were dealing with." The much-anticipated film is based on Martin McGartland's autobiography as a Belfast hood who was recruited by the British Special Branch in 1989 to spy on the Irish Republican Army (IRA). Eventually hunted by both sides, McGartland, who claims that the information he passed onto the British saved at least 50 lives during the so-called "Troubles," which left thousands dead over 35 years, is said to be in hiding. The film stars British actor Jim Sturgess in the lead role, supported by Sir Ben Kingsley, Rose McGowen and Kevin Zegers. "We were shooting in very sensitive areas," Skogland commented. "Jim at times, because he was playing a (real life) character that they (locals) don't like at all, we had a very close watch on him to ensure he was never in jeopardy." "Being an informer is a very heinous crime there," she explained. "They knew Martin, they knew his story, and so I needed them to know how we were telling it or I would have potentially put our cast in jeopardy." Attacks were relatively commonplace during the three decades of sectarian bloodshed between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland that were largely ended by the 1998 Good Friday peace accords. The cast and crew arrived on the scene only a few months after the former foes buried their differences and agreed to share power, and the last remaining British troops had pulled out. Ben Kingsley noted filming was first set for northern England, but Skogland's negotiations with both factions over two years made it possible to film in Belfast. "I had assurances from everyone, and a great security team," said Skogland, allowing the cast to spend months with former IRA members to prepare for their roles and Zegers to actually learn bomb-making techniques from a pro. McGowen, who plays a ruthless IRA member in the film, said Belfast is now undergoing a remarkable revival. "I certainly wouldn't want to present Belfast as if it's a scary place with people with machine guns on street corners," she said. "It's really turned a corner." But their wounds remain fresh, the cast and Skogland agreed. There were reportedly grumblings at first by McGartland about the film's accuracy, but those were quelled by show time. Of the film's release now, Skogland said it was an opportune time to revisit the conflict because so much new information has come to light in the last three to four years about what went on behind the headlines. Also, "it has tremendous relevance to what is going on today ... what it is to go against one's own community and make very serious, hard choices about moral and ethical positions," she said. "While it's set in Northern Ireland ... I think it resonates a greater truth which is how we are going to cope with conflict."