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Film cements 'enduring legacy' of Sands, says hunger striker


Michael Fassbender as Bobby Sands in the film 'Hunger', which has won the Camera d'Or award at Cannes

Michael Fassbender as Bobby Sands in the film 'Hunger', which has won the Camera d'Or award at Cannes

Michael Fassbender as Bobby Sands in the film 'Hunger', which has won the Camera d'Or award at Cannes

Praise has been heaped on the makers of a film about hunger striker Bobby Sands which won a major award at the Cannes film festival.

Among those who congratulated the people behind 'Hunger' was former hunger striker Raymond McCartney, who took part in the first protest in 1980.

The film won the Camera d'Or award at the closing ceremony of the festival de Cannes on Sunday night. It is a prize which is given to the director of the best first-time feature film in the festival.

By director Steve McQueen, the film star actors Liam Cunningham and Michael Fassbender, who takes on the role of Sands.

In a statement last night, Raymond McCartney, now a Sinn Fein Assembly member, said he welcomed the award that was given to the film.

Mr McCartney took part in the first Maze hunger strike of 1980 and spent 53 days without food.


"This award for first-time film-makers, which was given to Steve McQueen by US actor Dennis Hopper, confirms the huge interest in the hunger strikes and the enduring legacy Bobby Sands and his comrades have left," he said.

"This is an important subject and I look forward to the film being screened in Ireland."

A spokesman for the film said Mr McQueen had been overwhelmed at receiving the award.

"It was a delightful surprise and something which Steve McQueen was very humbled by and not something that he was expecting -- it is a very positive thing for him," said the spokesman. "It was very much a great surprise and he said himself he was very honoured to have been recognised in this way for his work."

The film is a portrayal of the last six weeks of the life of the IRA hunger striker and is co-written by award-winning playwright Enda Walsh ('Disco Pigs') and Steve McQueen.

It was the opening film for Cannes' Un Certain Regard, a sidebar to the main festival competition, where it received a five-minute standing ovation.

An Irish and UK co-production, it was funded by Channel 4, Northern Ireland Screen and the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland.

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Yesterday, a spokesperson for the Irish Film Board congratulated the makers and said they were delighted at the result.

It has not yet been decided when the film will open in Irish cinemas -- a date has not yet been set by the distributors, Pathe.

'Hunger' has secured sales deals with distributors in the US, UK, France, Belgium, Portugal, Greece, Australia and New Zealand.

Arts Minister Martin Cullen also paid tribute when news of the award came through, saying it illustrated how far the country had moved in the past 25 years.

This is the third year in a row that Ireland has been honoured at Cannes, with the Ken Loach film 'The Wind that Shakes The Barley' and 'Garage' having received awards previously.

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