Irish Republican News · September 3, 2016
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: Success for Bobby Sands movie
Success for Bobby Sands movie

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An Irish-made documentary exploring the life and death of IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands smashed the national box office record in its opening weekend, and continues to sell out weeks after it opened.

The movie, directed by Brendan J Byrne, enjoyed the second highest non-concert Irish documentary opening of all time. More cinema-goers watched ‘Bobby Sands: 66 Days’ than went to both ‘Star Trek’ and ‘Ghostbusters’.

The film-maker behind the movie said he is ‘ecstatic’ with the success and the reviews the film is receiving. Mr Byrne said: “I am thrilled, I couldn’t have predicted the level of interest this documentary has received, it has completely taken me by surprise.”

Bobby Sands was 27-years-old when he died after 66 days of refusing food in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh prison. He became one of nine other IRA and INLA prisoners who lost their lives during that historic year.

‘Bobby Sands: 66 Days’ was produced to give younger people a sense of the emotions and political tensions surrounding one of the defining episodes of the conflict. Sands’ own words form the heart of the documentary-style work, through his many poems, letters and communications penned inside prison, and in particular, his personal diary which he kept for the first 17 days of his hunger strike.

Beginning his action the prisoner recorded: “I am standing on the threshold of another trembling world. May God have mercy on my soul.”

Every day, prison warders goaded him with heaped plates of food, sometimes pie and beans, the beans falling off the plate. Sands wrote: “Human food can never keep a man alive forever and I console myself with the thought that I will get a great feed up above if I am worthy.”

Asked why he thinks the documentary has been so successful, Mr Byrne said: “I think maybe it has something to do with Stormont and the fact that issues on victims, truth and reconciliation have basically been put on ice, this film has transported people back to ‘81.

“It’s warts and all, we cannot be afraid of our history. This film has struck a chord with people. If someone had told me months ago that a film I made about the pain and suffering of the Troubles would have this level of success I would have said they were mad.”

He added: “Our distributor Wild Card Distribution have been very brave, they took a risk with this and I am delighted with the reaction it’s received, as are they.

“I am also pleased on a personal level. This is a story that needed to be told and to be told right.”

© 2016 Irish Republican News