Qumra Master Jim Sheridan, the Irish playwright, director and producer whose films have mapped some of the most turbulent periods in Ireland’s modern history, said he sees cinema as projectors of truth and finds a level of “spiritual aggression” in it.
In his Masterclass at Qumra, the annual talent incubator event by the Doha Film Institute (DFI), Sheridan had the audience in chuckles with his witty anecdotes and, more often than that, applaud at his candid observations about life and cinema.
The Oscar-nominated director, who established the Dublin Arabic Film Festival in 2014, with Zahara Moufid, to enable Irish audiences to enjoy the best in Arab cinema, said he is “still trying to figure out how to get our message to other people” and to provide unique perspectives on Arab people and culture.
About misrepresentations and propaganda, especially in the wake of current conflicts, and drawing on how he reconstructed scenes of strife in Ireland in his movies, he said: “People don’t realise non-violence has the same level of intensity as war – it is another way of fighting. Violence is such a self-defeating thing but then people are pushed to it, often because they don’t know what else to do.”
Describing Casablanca as the ‘best propaganda film ever made’ and ‘also the best film ever made,’ he said: “Art can be in the service of the right or wrong. All artists are propagandists, but propaganda has to be in the service of a noble idea to advance humanity rather than to put one side against the other.”
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