In the spring of 1981 Bobby Sands, a Republican prisoner in Belfast’s H-Block, began a sixty-six day hunger strike which drew the attention of the world to his campaign for recognition as a political prisoner. This focus on the Northern Irish conflict would eventually trigger efforts to resolve it.
While Brendan J. Byrne’s energetic new documentary chronicles Sands’ physical deterioration over the course of the sixty-six days, it is never prurient or mawkish and focuses instead on the body politic – on Sands’ beliefs as outlined in his prison diaries, on the divided community into which he was born and the Republican history which informed his politicisation as a young man.
It is crafted with rigor and balance and draws on a striking array of archive material, animation, reconstruction and interviews from a range of political perspectives to understand rather than embellish the creation of a mythic martyr.
(Notes by Sunniva O’Flynn)