Hollywood directors — specifically Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and James Cameron — have a long tradition of taking out full-page adverts congratulating each other when one of their films beats the other’s to take the box office crown.
In Ireland, things are done a little differently, or at least they are for Jim Sheridan.
For the last 34 years, the renowned director has held the record for being behind the Irish film with the most Oscar nominations, first with 1989’s My Left Footwith five, and then 1993’s In the Name of the Father with seven (which was, technically, matched by Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast in 2022). But this year, Martin McDonagh’s The Banshees of Inisherin smashed that record with nine nominations, prompting Sheridan to send him a note.
“I emailed Martin, saying he was a bastard for breaking the record,” Sheridan tells The News84Mediaspeaking from the sidelines of the Dublin International Film Festival (where his latest film, the doc Peter O’Toole: Along the Sky Road to Aqaba is screening). While Sheridan can’t recall how McDonagh responded, he admits he jokingly wrote back again later saying that, “If he was lucky, [Banshees] might get into the 50 best Irish films in The Irish Times next year.”
Sheridan noted — disparagingly — that the country’s newspaper of record had failed to include McDonagh’s breakout feature. In Bruges in its list of the greatest Irish features, or even The Guard by his brother John Michael McDonagh. “I mean, for God’s sake.”
Did Sheridan manage to get any slots on the list?
“Well yeah, I got a few, but that was bribery.”
Among the nominations for Banshees that helped knock In the Name of the Father off its perch was the supporting actor nod for Barry Keoghan (who won the BAFTA award earlier this month), of whom Sheridan spoke gushingly.
“Barry is a special talent, he has a very odd, almost spiritual presence, an otherworldly, transcendent kind of odd,” he said, adding that character’s often silent and inarticulate nature was a relief amid the rest of the dialogue in Banshees: “You live in the silences with him.”
Sheridan noted that he and Keoghan come from the same Summerhill neighborhood of Dublin. “I definitely lived within 100 yards of him for a few years,” he said. And this area — once known for deprivation, drugs and crime — Sheridan claimed was to be the focus of his next feature, a semi-autobiographical film about his teenage years. Previously being developed under the title of Sheriff Streett, he said the project was now known as North Star Sheriff Street.
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