OFG Screens “Hunger” 4/15

7 April 2010

The film group, in league with SUNY Oswego Professor of English Don Masterson, will screen Hunger on Thursday, April 15. Not to be confused with that vampire movie with David Bowie (that’s The Hunger), the film will be shown at 7 pm at the Campus Center Auditorium (118). Professor Masterson will introduce the film and lead a discussion of it after the screening. This event is free and open to all.

From “History Through an Unblinking Lens”, Dennis Lim, The New York Times, 4/6/09:

[The] first feature film by the British artist Steve McQueen, recounts the final weeks of Bobby Sands, the imprisoned Irish nationalist who died in 1981, 66 days into a hunger strike. But the movie, which does not examine the arc of Sands’s life or the history of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, is far from a conventional docudrama or issue movie….

Director Steve McQueen

“Hunger,” …, won the Camera d’Or, the prize for best first feature, at the Cannes Film Festival [in 2008]….A star of the art world, [Mr. McQueen] won the prestigious Turner Prize in 1999 and… represent[ed] Britain at …[the] Venice Biennale.

With “Hunger,” set almost entirely within the notorious Maze Prison near Belfast, Mr. McQueen wanted to make a film about “an extraordinary world that has become ordinary,” he said. It unfolds in three distinct movements, each with its own style.

The first section evokes the sickening atmosphere in the maximum-security H-blocks (so named because of their shape) during the so-called dirty protests, when members of the Irish Republican Army who were demanding recognition as political prisoners took to pouring urine under cell doors and smearing excrement on the walls.

The second act, making up for the near wordlessness of the first, is all talk, capturing an intimate conversation about the morality of suicide between Sands (Michael Fassbender) and a priest (Liam Cunningham), much of it presented in a single, static 17-minute take. In the final third silence takes over again as Sands begins his hunger strike, his body wasting away and his mind increasingly prone to hallucinations. Mr. Fassbender appears naked in these scenes — Sands refused to wear a prison uniform — and lost about 40 pounds during filming, under medical supervision.


The film’s preoccupations ultimately seem less political than existential. Mr. McQueen sidesteps the customary views of Sands as a martyr and a terrorist and regards him above all as an enigma.


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