Sheridan rejects attacks on film on hunger strike

 

THE Irish Film Board and the makers of the film Some Mother's Son rejected an assertion made in Cannes yesterday that they were involved in "a mischievous fiction".

The assertion was made by Mr Alexander Walker, critic of the London Evening Standard at a public discussion after the world premiere of Some Mother's Son at the 49th Cannes Film Festival yesterday afternoon.

The film deals with the experiences of two fictional women who have sons on the H Block hunger strike in Northern Ireland in 1981. The women are played by Helen Mirren and Fionnuala Flanagan, with Aiden Gillen and David O'Hara as their sons, and John Lynch in the role of Bobby Sands.

Some Mother's Son was written by Terry George and Jim Sheridan, who received an Oscar nomination for their screenplay of In the Name of the Father. Mr George directed the film, which was produced by Mr Sheridan, with Mr Arthur Lappin and Mr Ed Burke.

Opening the post screening discussion in Cannes, Mr Walker said the film carried a great deal of justified emotional weight because it was seen from the position of the mothers and the prisoners.

"But the British government is reduced to two public schoolboys," he said. "Sinn Fein/IRA hoped that the hunger strikes would not end and that it would create more martyrs for them. And the whole last 20 minutes of the film is a mischievous fiction made with the co operation of the Irish Film Board."

Mr George took exception to these remarks, stating that the scenes referred to by Mr Walker were based on actual events, that the two "public schoolboy" characters depicted the two factions within the British government on the issue, and that the priest in the film raised the point that the IRA was exploiting the hunger strike.

"This is an attempt to universalise the story," he said. "If there's a message I want to get across in the film, it is that the political manipulation of words compounded the problems of the hunger strikes, and that bowing down on words like `decommissioning' only leads to further tragedies."

Mr Sheridan pointed out that the only people shown in the film to use violence are the Provisional IRA. "There is nothing mischievous about the film," he said. "It's in your face film making. And there's no conspiracy involving the Irish Film Board."

Ms Lelia Doolin, chairwoman of the Irish Film Board, came to the stage to answer the assertion made by Mr Walker. "I take exception to being cast in the role of mischief making," she said. "The Irish Film Board is involved with finding talent and developing film making and we were very keen on this film." She went on to describe the work as "strong, egalitarian and fair minded".