[What follows is excerpted from an article published today on the website of the United Arab Emirates newspaper The National:]
Irish film director Jim Sheridan has a pointed message for aspiring Arab film makers: stop chasing Hollywood. “Every director I’ve met in the Arab cinema world wants to go to Hollywood and make a Hollywood movie, because that’s how you pass the test apparently,” he says when I catch him on the sidelines of this year’s Dublin Arabic Film Festival, where he acts as president and curator. “It’s nonsense. Every time I go to America to make a Hollywood movie, I realise I didn’t grow up in America. I didn’t go to school there. I don’t know their system.” (...)
The director, who was a judge at Dubai International Film Festival in 2013, speaks from a position of some experience when it comes to making films outside the Hollywood mainstream. While his European films, including the multi-Oscar-nominated, and winning, My Left Foot and In the Name of the Father, have gathered accolades that most directors can only dream of, his most famous Hollywood effort was the critically derided 50 Cent biopic Get Rich or Die Tryin’. (...)
Sheridan’s own next project looks set to have a regional theme too. He is currently in the early stages of developing a film about the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing, the imprisoned Libyan Abdelbaset al-Megrahi.
“Megrahi’s story is so interesting. If he’d been European, or even just a bit whiter, he’d have been out a long time ago. The case against him was just laughable, but three judges found him guilty. These were the same people that were involved in convicting the Guildford Four,” the director explains. Sheridan’s seven-time Oscar nominated 1994 film, In the Name of the Father, was a biopic of the four men who were wrongly imprisoned as IRA terrorists.