Sitting in his Dublin hotel room, Joseph Strick revisits old memories. He talks about being a teenager and reading James Joyce's 'Ulysses' for the first time. Of how he didn't understand it all, but knew that he was in the presence of "something extraordinary", a "film thinker" who bypassed the writing of the day. Strick too would become a film thinker, working on acclaimed documentaries and years later, after a protracted bidding war, obtaining the film rights to the book he first read at 16.
He arrived in Dublin in 1967 to film 'Ulysses' and 34 years later he's back for its opening night. Refused a certificate upon its release and again in 1974, Strick had resigned himself to the fact that his acclaimed, Oscar-nominated work would never be seen in a public cinema in Ireland. He did not return for 25 years until an offer arrived in 1999 to stage his production of the Aristophanes play, 'Ladies' Day', in Cork. What he witnessed during his stay was enough to convince him that the country had moved on and that he should once again appeal the ban. This time he was successful, the film granted a '15' certificate by the censor, Sheamus Smith.
His joy that the ban has been overturned is tempered with regret as he remembers the friends who worked on the film. There were 60 speaking roles and for each actor it was a labour of love. Only 30 of them are alive today. Times may have changed but the memory of rejection lingers.
'Ulysses' will be screened at the close of the Cúirt International Festival of Literature in Galway on 29 April at 9pm.