Written and Directed by John Furse and Brain Keenan
Screening at FACT
The true story of the two British hostages, Brian Keenan and John McCarthy,
held together in captivity in Beirut for four and a half years.
Blind Flight, the first feature film by John Furse, an established documentarist,
is co-written by himself and Brian Keenan, and based on Keenan's book,
An Evil Cradling, and the book McCarthy co-wrote, called ‘Some Other
From beginning to end the film is truly compelling. In the first five
minutes, we see Keenan (played by Liverpool’s own Ian Hart, with
an unfaltering Belfast accent) bungled into the boot of a car, whisked
off, and thrown into a make-shift cell, complete with insects and heat.
Belfast born Keenan, not one to let his fear show, (he went to Beirut
to escape the troubles in Belfast) makes certain early stands against
his capturers, including a very moving one, when they attempt to manhandle
from him the proud shirt that his father had presented to him.
The film captures perfectly the isolation and confusion of an innocent
man being held against his will, in a country where he understands neither
reason nor language. Before long a blindfolded Keenan is moved out of
his cell, to another cell were McCarthy (Linus Roach) is held. There then
develops a remarkable friendship between two people held in a number of
stinking make-shift cells. We are taken through their frustrations, loneliness,
history, fears and their lives as they help each other survive. What also
develops is a strange connection with their captors.
What is unique about this film, apart from striking performances by Hart
and Roach, is not only its commitment to presenting the truest account
possible of Keenan’s and McCarthy’s experiences in Lebanon
(Keenan and McCarthy worked as advisers throughout the making of the film)
but also the avoidance of any set stereotypes of the hostage takers. They
were presented sometimes caring and sensitive, sometimes brutal, but also
very humane, as well as being victims, responding to the plans international
capitalism has made for them. In Keenan’s and Mc McCarthy’s
own account, they developed very fond relationships with their captors.
John Furse, who attended the premiere, told me it had taken him ten years
to raise the money for the film, and yet still it was shot quicker and
on a lower budget, than most mainstream films. But this again is its quality
– stripped of any pretentiousness.
This film is excellent and very relevant to today’s uncertain world.
You must see it, and I hope that you get what I did – a feeling
of the strength of the human spirit, and an understanding that we have
more in common with the people of the Middle- East than we have differences.
Coming soon, an interview with the director and writer John Furse.