Documentary Bobby Sands: 66 Days at the 10th Irish Film Festa

Documentary Bobby Sands: 66 Days at the 10th Irish Film Festa


The 10th IRISH FILM FESTA, the only Italian film festival completely dedicated to Irish cinema, will take place from March 30th to April 2nd 2017, at the Casa del Cinema in Rome.

The features programmed this year include the Italian premiere of documentary Bobby Sands: 66 Days by Brendan J. Byrne, dedicated to 66 days of hunger strike in 1981 that led to the death of Bobby Sands in Long Kesh prison. The film examines the symbolic and cultural value of fasting in Ireland’s historical-political context and is based on the prison diaries kept by the same Bobby Sands, with narration by actor Martin McCann, expected to attend the festival: “They serve to place his voice at the centre of the film and take us inside his head — the director explains — the place where Sands eventually found freedom”. 66 Days was presented last year at the Galway Film Fleadh and at the international documentary festival Hot Docs in Toronto.

The history of the Troubles in Northern Ireland and their cinematic representation in works such as Angel, Some Mother’s Son, Nothing Personal, The Boxer, Hunger, and others, will also be the focus of a conference at the festival by Prof. Martin McLoone (University of Ulster, Emeritus).

Martin McCann will be at the festival also as co-director of Starz, one of the short films in competition. The competition section, reserved for short films produced or co-produced in Ireland, comprises 15 works this year, spanning various genres and techniques (animation, documentary, thriller, horror — see the full list).


BOBBY SANDS: 66 DAYS (NI, Ireland, USA, Denmark, Sweden 2016) Documentary

Director: Brendan J. Byrne; screenplay: Brendan J. Byrne; cinematography: David Barker; editing: Paul Devlin; music: Edith Progue; animation: Peter Strain, Ryan Kane; production design: David Craig; producers: Trevor Birney, Brendan J. Byrne; consulting producer: Alex Gibney; production companies: Fine Points Films, Cyprus Avenue Films. Running time: 105’

Narrated by Martin McCann

In the spring of 1981 Irish Republican Bobby Sands’ 66-day hunger strike brought the attention of the world to his cause. 66 Days is a major feature length documentary exploring Sands’ remarkable life and death, 35 years on from his ultimate sacrifice.
Using eye-witness testimony, unseen archive, reconstructions and animation, this cinematic odyssey serves as both the definitive account of a self-created Irish martyr and a seismic moment in 20th century Irish history, the legacy of which we continue to live with today.

Brendan J. Byrne is an experienced filmmaker, specialising in documentary and feature films. He was been making high end documentaries for both BBC Television, C4 and RTÉ in the UK and Ireland for over 20 years, including the winning documentary Breaking The Silence (2010) about families coping in the aftermath of suicide. His first feature film as a producer Jump was selected for the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival in 2012. 66 Days is first feature documentary as a director.


Premio Letterature dal Fronte, “H3″ by Les Blair screened in Cassino

Susanna Pellis (Irish Film Festa director), Laurence McKeown and Silvia Calamati
Susanna Pellis (direttore Irish Film Festa), Laurence McKeown e Silvia Calamati

Il diario di Bobby Sands. Storia di un ragazzo irlandese (Bobby Sand’s Diary. The Story of an Irish Boy) written by Silvia Calamati, Laurence McKeown and Denis O’Hearn, published by Castelvecchi, has been awarded with the Premio internazionale Città di Cassino 2013 assigned by Letterature dal fronte Association.

The award is held to «gather, examine, value and reward one or more authors telling stories, facts and testimonies from war zones».

The book by Calamati, McKeown and Denis O’Hearn is about Bobby Sands, the Irish republican prisoner who died on hunger strike in 1981, at the age of 27, in Long Kesh prison.

In occasion of the award ceremony, H3 by Les Blair was screened in Cassino with the collaboration of Irish Film Festa, which also provided the subtitles for it. Laurence McKeown himself, one of the Long Kesh hunger strikers, worked on the script of H3.

Bobby Sands’ life was recently brought on screen also by Steve McQueen’s Hunger (2008), in which Sands was played by Michael Fassbender.


LIFE AS AN INTERFACE – Special Screening

Thursday December 6th at 5.30pm, in the Kodak screening room, there will be a special screening of the documentary Life as an Interface, original version without subtitles. The Director Laurence McKeown will be at the screening. Introduction by the journalist Silvia Calamati.

Life as an Interface is a documentary feature on the Skegoneill Glandore Common Purpose Project, devoted to creating social and economic common ground for the residents of two bordering zones of North Belfast, respectively with a unionist and a nationalist majority. Even though there is no physical detachment between the two communities, neglect and degradation mark these urban settlements.

 The SGCP Project is kept alive by volunteers and its aim is the enhancement of this area through creative arts, fostering mutual awareness and closer contact among the residents.

 The SGCP president is the North-American Callie Persic: now living in the area herself, she has been working for years with Belfast communities. Vice President is a former loyalist prisoner, and one of the staff members, a Long Kesh former prisoner as well, belongs to the nationalist community.

Laurence McKeown is a North Irish writer, playwright and screenwriter. A former Republican prisoner with Bobby Sands, Laurence took part in the famous 1981 hunger strike at Long Kesh, refusing food for 70 days. Life as an interface is his first work as a director.

Silvia Calamati, writer, journalist and Rainews24 contributor, is the author of the books “Il diario di Bobby Sands” (with McKeown and Denis O’Hearn) and “Qui Belfast. Storia contemporanea della guerra in Irlanda del Nord” (Red Star Press, 2012).

Silvia Calamati at Irish Film Festa to talk about his upcoming book about Bobby Sands

Friday 27th November, on the occasion of the screening of Hunger (S. McQueen, 2008) Silvia Calamati, journalist and writer, will take part in Irish Film Festa to present her new book about IRA activist Bobby Sands, publishing next May by Castelvecchi. Silvia Calamati has concerned herself with the Irish question since 1982, she has been working as a free-lance journalist for Rai News 24 and for the Italian weekly magazine Avvenimenti, focusing on Ulster matters. She won the Tom Cox Award, she has translated One day in my life (Feltrinelli, 1996), the book written by Bobby Sands, and she published, one among so many, Qui Belfast. 20 anni di cronache dall’Irlanda di Bobby Sands e Pat Finucane (Edizioni Associate, 2008)