Maze hunger strike film opens to critical acclaim in Cannes

A FILM about life in the Maze prison and the highly emotive events surrounding the 1981 IRA hunger strike was screened as part of the Cannes Film Festival yesterday to considerable critical acclaim.

Directed by London-born Turner Prize-winner Steve McQueen, Hunger stars Irish actor Michael Fassbender as Bobby Sands.

The film tells how the rioting broke out and violence spread beyond the Maze.

McQueen said in his director’s statement that he wanted to capture what it was like to hear, see, smell and touch the H Block in 1981, and convey something which could not be found in books or archives.

He said: “When I was a child growing up in 1981, aged about 11 or 12, there were three things that influenced me: the Brixton riots, Tottenham winning the FA Cup — which was fantastic — and Bobby Sands.

“His image appeared on the TV screen virtually every night with a number underneath it and it stayed with me... that passion and that level of confrontation to die on hunger strike.

“This memory and this opportunity drew me to find out more about him and I thought it could be a powerful film.”

McQueen, who had never written a script before, described the research process of speaking with ex-prisoners, prison officers and priests who had visited the Maze as “probably the heaviest experience of my life emotionally”.

He said he initially contemplated having no dialogue at all.

“But then I started to think about there being, after a period of no dialogue, an avalanche of dialogue... You don’t know who to champion. There’s no clear winner.”

He said of filming in the north: “What became apparent was how so many people had been touched by this story and it was quite remarkable how everyone knew where they were when Bobby Sands died during the hunger strike; everyone had some kind of relationship to the events of that time.”

Meanwhile, Angelina Jolie talked at the Cannes festival yesterday about her pregnancy with twins, as well as motherhood.

Confirmation of a fifth and sixth child for Jolie and Brad Pitt came yesterday during a side-by-side interview conducted with her Kung Fu Panda co-star Jack Black.

During a press conference about the film, Jolie confirmed: “Yes, they are twins.”

Asked by the media about reports she was planning to give birth in France, Jolie replied that she had not completely decided, but added: “We are certainly thinking of France.”

She said French was a second language that her children were starting to speak “so being here is very good for them at this time”.


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