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4 September 2017 Edition

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‘H3’ screened in Italy for Hunger Strike Commemoration

The following day, I got a message from the Chief of Police for the region, asking if I could call in at the station . . .

THE HUNGER STRIKE film H3 was recently screened as part of the annual Assunta Festival in Vernante, a small town in north-west Italy, where I was invited to screen H3 (with Italian subtitles), make a presentation, and take part in a Q&A. 

This was the first time that the festival had invited anyone from another country and the first time to include a specifically political element (usually the festival comprises music, dance, and theatre).

The screening was in a marvellous venue and was packed to capacity on the night with many travelling from far outside the village to attend. The questions asked were very insightful and displayed both an interest in, and certain knowledge of, the subject. 

At the end of the event, a man told me how he had spray painted anti-Thatcher graffiti on the walls of a nearby city during the Hunger Strike.

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The following day, I got a message from the Chief of Police for the region, asking if I could call in at the station. Not for questioning or arrest, as it turned out, but to thank me for visiting the village, for my presentation, for making the film, and to present me with a book about the first member of the Carabinieri who was killed in Vernante in 1915 by an escaped bandit from the neighbouring village of Limone. 

The day after that, another police officer came over to me in the hotel as I finished my lunch, introduced himself and said how much he had enjoyed the film and talk and went on to say about how he lived in England in the 1970s during the conflict and how he had witnessed the racism against the Irish. 

The French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre once wrote: “Life is an absurdity.” Indeed it is.

Laurence McKeown is a former political prisoner (1976-1992). During that time he took part in the protests for the return of political status and spent 70 days on hunger strike in 1981 in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh. Upon his release Laurence completed a doctoral study at Queen’s University and is now an author, filmmaker, and playwright.

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