As proof of the huge respect that EFA bears to our Festival, on behalf of the traditionally good cooperation, is the fact that they are sending the outstanding Irish scriptwriter and director, Jim Sheridan, as their high representative. His presence is a special pleasure and honour for us, and the multitude of domestic and foreign cinephiles will indeed know how to recognize and appreciate the fact that he will be attending the celebration of our 40th jubilee in person.
Sheridan was born in Dublin, in 1949 and is one of the leading auteurs – writer-directors of Irish cinema, which is proud of his oeuvre that has launched him into the heights of not only UK cinema, but also internationally. The top of his career, and of Irish cinema in general, is the master-piece IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, which won the “Golden Bear” at the Berlin Film Festival in 1994, and continued to earn 7 more international awards and a record number of nominations, including the 7 Academy Award nominations, 4 “Golden Globe” nominations and 2 BAFTA nominations, although all these respectable institutions should have had the common sense to give, first and foremost, an Oscar, Golden Globe or BAFTA awards to the film as a whole, and then to Sheridan as its writer/director and to Daniel Day-Lewis, for his magnificent creation of the Dublin teenager – Gerry Conlon. One of the Guilford Four accused under the infamous torture by the English police, which forces them to falsely confess that they were the terrorists behind the bombs planted by IRA in 1974 in Guildford Pub in London, resulting in several victims, while Conlon and his father are imprisoned and sentenced, Gerry to a life sentence, whereby after 15 years in prison, the campaigning lawyer Pierce (played by the also excellent Emma Thompson) reopens their case and she fights for their acquittal and rehabilitation and to shed light on the truth and justice, although the years in prison have irreversibly gone by. The key visual link in this magnificent film is the Oscar-winning cinematographer from Wales, Peter Biziou. Himself being an actor of modest ambition, in each of his films, Sheridan has a special relationship with the selected cast, as well as the cinematographers that he works with, and Day-Lewis is his favourite actor, the fruitful collaboration with whom he started from his debut, made when he was 40 years old, the thrilling psychological and deeply humane drama – MY LEFT FOOT (1989) where Lewis plays the disabled Christi Brown, who as a result of his cerebral palsy is only able to draw and write by moving his left foot – which brought him the Oscar for Best Actor in a Lead Role, while actress Brenda Fricker won the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. The cinematographer that Sheridan
worked with in his debut was Jack Conroy.
The third effective collaboration between Sheridan and Day-Lewis is in BOXER (1997) where in the triple role of producer-writer-director Sheridan articulated the inevitable, I’d dare say IRA obsessive syndrome, with Day-Lewis in the energetic and exceptional creation of boxer Danny Flynn, who due to his involvement in the IRA, after serving 14 years in prison, comes back to his working-class neighborhood and his girlfriend Maggie (Emily Watson), continuing his life as a boxer. The specificity of his role as a boxer is another proof of his energy as an actor, by training and successfully boxing in front of the cameras, as if he were a professional, which is indeed, a trait of only the best among actors. The film BOXER was a new triple creative work of art, having first writer/director Sheridan, followed by Day-Lewis playing the title role, and certainly all of this comes visually packed by the experienced, double Oscar-winner, cinematographer and director Chris Menges (our laureate of the Golden Camera 300 for Lifetime Achievement).
– Sheridan’s second film is THE FIELD (1990), which puts strong emphasis on the patriotic understanding of one’s property, when “Bull” McCabe, in the Oscar-winning performance of actor Richard Harris, fights against an American buyer for a piece of land offered at an auction after the death of the landlord, fearing that the newcomer/intruder would desacralize the authenticity and ancient roots of the land his family has cultivated for generations. This poignant ethno-drama set in an authentically Irish scenery was shot by cinematographer Jack Conroy (from MY LEFT FOOT).
– When it comes to scriptwriting, as his specialty, in 1996, Sheridan wrote the script for the film SOME MOTHER’S SON (featuring Helen Mirren) by director Terry George, based on an authentic event from 1981, when in an Irish prison, IRA prisoner Bobby Sands goes on a hunger strike, due to IRA’s treatment of political prisoners as criminals. An excellently acted psychodrama about the IRA syndrome.
After he moved to live and work in the USA in 1982, aged 33, Sheridan autobiographically conveyed his own experiences in IN AMERICA (2002), a story about an Irish family that illegally immigrates to the USA. The father Johnny Sullivan (played by Paddy Considine) is an actor who is trying to get a break under very difficult circumstances and care for his 2 remaining children and their mother Sarah (Samantha Morton), at the same time recovering from the tragedy after the death of their 5-year old son. This Manhattan drama was shot in his typical style by the American cinematographer Declain Quinn, bringing Sheridan his Academy Award nomination for best script.
Inspired by the original eponymous film of Danish director Susanne Bier, in 2009 Sheridan shots a re-make, an American version of the film BROTH
ERS with an excellent cast consisting of Jake Gyllenhaal, Tobey Maguire and Natalie Portman, in a story about a missing brother who is deployed to
Afghanistan, while his own brother and wife start a love affair. The cinematographer of this version was
the experienced American Frederick Elmes.
In 2011, once again as a complete author, Sheridan directs the psycho-thriller DREAM HOUSE with the excellent casting featuring Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz, Naomi Watts, who when moving into the new dream house, face a tragedy involving the murder of a mother and her children. The cinematographer of this effective film is the six-time Oscar-nominee Caleb Deschanel.
As a co-writer (based on Sebastian Barry’s novel), in 2016 he directed the psycho-drama THE SECRET SCRIPTURE with actress Rooney Mara as a woman
who writes her confessional diary while staying in a mental institution. The mysticism and melancholic streak of the film is a specialty in the visual expression of the Russian cinematographer Michael Crichman (laureate of the “Manaki Brothers” Festival).
Consistent with his interest in authentic events that have attracted worldwide attention, in his chronologically most recent film LOCKERBIE, based on writer Peter Biddulph‘s documentary book, Sheridan actualizes the ever-present phrenomen of terrorism, putting the events of 1988 in focus, when a Pan Am plane was taken down by two Libyan terrorists over the Scottish town of Lockerbie, resulting in 269 dead, including Flora, whose father, Dr. Jim Swire begins his own investigation into identifying and punishing the criminals, which, as a final satisfaction, despite the irrecuperable family loss – rehabilitates the essence of justice in all its geopolitical and social dimensions.
Blagoja Kunovski – Dore