Sunday, December 4

Jim Sheridan, the director who dared to talk about the IRA while they were still killing

Jim Sheridan left Ireland in the 1980s, and yet his films have always revolved around his country. He has done it autobiographically, as in In America, where he narrated his own adventures when he arrived in the US and the nostalgia for the land left behind; but also addressing the conflict in the north of the country that, as the series tells in comedy form Derry Girlsended up reaching everyone somehow.

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Sheridan’s cinema is run through by the IRA. He was one of the few directors who dared to talk about it while the gang was still killing. It is difficult for the cinema to set its sights on such thorny issues when they continue to beat. You only have to see what happened in Spain, where Imanol Uribe and Eloy de la Iglesia were among the few exceptions for too long, and now we have seen that fiction begins to thaw and finally addresses the issue of ETA. He made it into a masterpiece like In the name of the Fatherbut also producing an apocryphal sequel, in the name of the sonand with the forceful TheBoxers, where he appealed for peace negotiations to resolve the conflict.

A work that the Seminci has recognized with a Spike of Honor. One of those awards that make one think of her own career. The Irish director admits that his arrival “in this world of cinema was like an explosion”. He refers to the overwhelming success of My left Foot, with which he debuted in 1989 and which achieved five Oscar nominations and the award for its two protagonists, Daniel Day-Lewis and Brenda Fricker. “I hadn’t directed a movie until I was 40, and all of a sudden, I did four or five that were very successful very quickly. But, as it progressed, it became more difficult to make films, so I made some American films that are quite good, but I don’t think they have the power or the inner truth that the previous ones have, ”he says from the Calderón Theater in Valladolid.

Those films were born from an “inner need”: that of “communicating a story, which really was the story of Ireland, that had never been told visually”. “Ireland never had a history of painting as such. I come to Spain and see paintings from 1500, but we didn’t start doing it there until the end of the 19th century. First, because it’s very difficult to paint outdoors in Ireland because it’s so cold and it’s raining all the time, so you didn’t have that tradition, and then you had the indoor tradition, which was based on the British one,” he explains.

The first representations that arrived were “dealt with mythology, with fairies… they were in a different world”. The lack of visual art contrasted with that of a wide presence of literature, since “revolutionaries were writers”. It also affected “the conflict in the north, which made it difficult when you were in Ireland to understand where the country was going and where it came from.” He played “reimagine” the nation.

Sheridan believes Ireland’s story is very useful to the rest of the world, even though people “think this is just an Irish problem, but it’s really an international problem.” “You have that division between the north and the south of Europe. Between the red states and the blue states in America… So it’s not limited to Ireland. Simply in Ireland it was more exaggerated, but there is much to be learned from the problems in Ireland. In fact, I think we’re going to have a real problem in the United States if they go the route of anti-democratic forces in the next few years. I think it’s going to be a disaster”, he says about the importance of telling the recent history of his country.

I don’t think the IRA had the slightest chance of succeeding. So the idea of ​​fighting a war you couldn’t win seemed like a contradiction to me.

Jim Sheridan
Film director

He doesn’t give importance to having been one of the few to dare to talk about the IRA, and he believes that the need to talk about it from his cinema is born because he sucked activism from a young age. “I was very politically active as a child, and I saw the conflict in a particular way. I saw no benefit in a violent war within the six counties and thought I only had one solution. What I’m saying is that I really don’t think the IRA had the slightest chance of succeeding. So the idea of ​​fighting a war that you couldn’t win seemed like a contradiction to me,” he notes.

But he was also not sympathetic to the British performance. He read what the British military wrote in the books they published, and which quoted Mao Tse-Tung: “They said: ‘if the people are the water, the guerrillas are the fish.’ And they added: ‘in this case, we must contaminate the water’. When I read that, I immediately got into a big conflict about the armed struggle and I started trying to find out what the Pope thought because I was religious and I asked myself: ‘Does the Pope think this is a just war?’ And the Pope thought that if you had no chance of success, that was not a war because the idea of ​​fighting a war that you cannot win, like in the Gaza Strip, I do not understand. I understand the anger, but I don’t understand the solution. That is a violent solution that cannot win. So my cinema was tied to a general vision that non-violence had to be the way”.

He adds that the character of the Irish, always rebelling, intensified the conflict. “I always say that the Italians killed for business and the Irish for principle. Any principle, so you can never predict an Irishman. The Italians prefer to live, the Irish don’t care, because even in the next life they will rebel. It does not have an end. Freud said it, you can’t analyze the Irish, you can’t psychoanalyze them, and I don’t think that’s true, you have to change things with other ways of thinking, and cinema can function as such, but not in a world where there is only one culture, which is the American. It can’t work if the top five production companies are HBO, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and another fucking platform… Disney. It can’t work like that. How do you count the world? How do you find a solution? It is that, although they want to make Spanish or Irish films, they are not born from our roots, but from their friendly gaze. Denmark opposed Netflix and they destroyed their industry, and where was Europe then, did anyone say that wasn’t right?” he adds.

The things I do as a director is for that working class. Sometimes it’s hard to stay grounded, so I think I’ve always had a duty towards those kinds of people.

Jim Sheridan
Film director

The son of a housewife and a train station worker, Jim Sheridan is one of those exceptions of a working-class son who becomes a film director, something “very unusual” that he realized when he achieved success. in the United States and began to help produce his compatriots like Terry George or John Carney. “One day I met Alfonso Cuarón and Guillermo del Toro, they were together, and they are both Mexicans, but they are upper class, from rich families. And I hadn’t realized it until that moment, but I do think that part of what I do as a director is for that working class. Sometimes it’s hard to stay grounded, so I think I’ve always had a duty towards those kinds of people, a flame inside of me, a passion,” he says.

His next project, according to the Hollywood media, will again be with his sights set on Ireland, and directly on his life. North Star will tell his childhood and the 60s in his country. She will do it with music by Bono and the Edge, who has already composed songs for In the name of the Father and that will bring another Irish touch to the dream film of a director who has always seen in his roots the raw material to create.