Synopsis by Mark Deming
The final months of Bobby Sands, the Irish Republican Army activist who protested his treatment at the hands of British prison guards with a hunger strike, are chronicled in this historical drama, the first feature film from artist-turned-filmmaker Steve McQueen. Davey Gillen (Brian Milligan) is an IRA volunteer who is sentenced to Belfast's infamous Maze prison, where he shares a cell with fellow IRA member Gerry Campbell (Liam McMahon). Like most of the IRA volunteers behind bars, Gillen and Campbell are subjected to frequent violence by the guards, who in turn live with the constant threat of assassination at the hands of Republicans during their off-hours. Campbell and Gillen are taking part in a protest in which they and their fellow IRA inmates are refusing to wear standard prison-issue uniforms as a protest against Britain's refusal to recognize them as political prisoners, a move that is complicating their efforts to pass information among the other prisoners. As the protest fails to get results, one IRA member behind bars, Bobby Sands (Michael Fassbender), decides to take a different tack and begins a hunger strike, refusing to eat until Irish officials are willing to acknowledge the IRA as a legitimate political organization. However, while Sands' protest gains the attention both inside prison walls and in the international news, not everyone believes what he's doing is right, and Sands finds himself verbally sparring with a priest (Liam Cunningham) who questions the ethics and effectiveness of the strike. Hunger received its world premiere at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, where it was screened as part of the Un Certain Regard program.
hunger-strike, IRA (Irish Republican Army), prison