Preview by: Jack Foley
A NEW film, about two former Beirut hostages who forge a deep
friendship in their struggle to survive, finally received its
premiere, in Dublin, in February.
Blind Flight, the story of Belfast born Brian Keenan and his
friend, TV producer, John McCarthy, took 14 years to become a
film reality, but was made a reality thanks to support from the
Northern Ireland Film and TV Commission, The Irish Film Council
and other funders.
It was shot in Belfast, Glasgow and Tunisia and brought back
many haunting memories for the pair, who were kidnapped separately,
by Arab fundamentalists, in Lebanon, in April 1986.
In the ensuing four and a half years, they were held in a room
together, blindfolded and shackled to a radiator, and endured
beatings, chains and incarceration.
Together, they tried to help each other survive, until Keenan
was released, in 1990, and McCarthy was freed a year later.
The film stars Ian Hart and Linus Roache, while the screenplay
was written by both men, and draws heavily on Keenan's book about
his captivity, An Evil Cradling.
Speaking at the film's launch in Dublin, Keenan said that although
the project had triggered difficult memories of personal torment,
he maintained that whatever healing was needing to be done,
was done on my own.
"My view is the only way you heal is to go back into that
place that you have come out of, on your own," he explained.
"That was done a long while ago in a little cottage at the
back of Croagh Patrick in the west of Ireland."
He also maintained that the film was not meant to replicate exactly
what happened in a dark cell in Beirut, 15 years ago, but rather
to explore the truth of how people survive and grow in the face
of overwhelming personal turmoil.
He claims the movie tended to address the various deep
human truths by which we all grow and re-experience the value
of ourselves and the value of others.
For McCarthy, whose mother died while he was held hostage, watching
the film proved very moving. He confesses to finding it very
powerful, especially the scenes where Keenan is shown comforting
him after he had seen video footage of his mother.
Yet he claims the film serves to show how much the two men came
to care for each other, adding: "That is how we survived
- by trying desperately to understand what each other needed -
even when we were at our wits' end."