By: CHRIS GRAEME
THE INTERNATIONALLY renowned Irish film director Jim Sheridan was in Lisbon on Thursday to open a retrospective of his six films.
Held at the Cinemateca Portuguesa – Museu do Cinema, in Rua Barata Salgueiro, off Avenida da Liberdade, the event organised by the Irish Association of Portugal and sponsored by the Irish Embassy in Portugal, the Irish Film Institute and Culture Ireland, highlighted his successful films.
Jim Sheridan, six-times Academy Award nominated, was born in Dublin and graduated from University College, Dublin. In 1989, he directed My Left Foot, which became a critical and commercial success and won Daniel Day-Lewis and Brenda Fricker Academy Awards. He followed that with The Field (with Richard Harris) in 1990; then with the Name of the Father in 1993, which was loosely based on the Guildford Four Case.
In 1996, he co-wrote Some Mother’s Son with Terry George, while The Boxer, also with Daniel Day-Lewis, was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Film Drama in 1997.
In 2003, he released the semiautobiographical In America, which tells the story of a family of Irish immigrants trying to succeed in New York.
Speaking to The Resident at the opening of A Film Retrospective – Jim Sheridan, the director said: “This is actually my first time in Lisbon, and I am delighted that the Irish Association of Portugal invited me here to the Cinemateca, which is an amazing building, by the way.”
He said he was a great fan of film director Fassbinder, who is also being featured at the Cinemateca this month.
When asked to what he owed his phenomenal international success, he said: “I think there’s a lot of luck involved, not just talent or originality. I was lucky in that I was the first Irish filmmaker to make a full length feature film that was successful outside Ireland, in both Europe and the United States.
Jim Sheridan says he knew quite a bit about the United States because he had lived and worked there for so many years, and he knew how difficult it was, and still is, to translate a foreign culture in the medium of film to the States.
“Of course they’ve nearly all worked there, but it’s hard to get a foot in the door, let alone get a film released in the States,” he added. Jim Sheridan thinks it’s a miracle to have had the success he’s had in the United States and England.
When it comes to advice to budding young film directors, “talent and ideas aside – the only thing that you can really do is to try and get outside your native country and figure out its peculiarities and how it relates to the rest of the world.”
As to projects in the pipeline, Jim Sheridan says he is working on a remake of a Danish film, adding that he loves Danish cinema, particularly the filmmaker Carl Theodor Dreyer.
A Film Retrospective – Jim Sheridan which includes the films Into the West, The General and Bloody Sunday runs until October 31. For more information, please visit www.cinemateca.pt
Next week: Spotlight on the Irish Association of Portugal.
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