Directed by Les Blair, starring Brendan Mackey, Dean Lennox Kelly, Aidan Campbell, Tony Devlin, Mark O'Halloran and Sean McDonagh.
Even the least politically conscious of us are probably aware that 2001 is the 20th anniversary of the Maze Hunger Strikes. 'H3' (named after the toughest block of the Maze Prison) stands out in greater relief when measured against low-key media coverage and a lack of books or documentaries on the topic.
Many aspects of 'The Troubles' in the North have been covered, albeit badly – think (momentarily) of 'The Devil's Own' – but 'Some Mother's Son' was, until now, the only film to solely tackle the hunger strike issue. Certainly not the best portrayal of Northern conflict, it tells the tale from the perspective of two mothers whose sons are on hunger strike. It is harrowing and honest, but does suffer from sentimentality. 'H3' cannot be accused of this, as it discards everything from the outside, and leaves it there. Shunning peripheral detail, it focuses on personal experiences of the men during the no-wash protests and their attempts to keep up morale in the face of hardship.
It is an insular film, tightly shot, concentrating on the strikers and their day-to-lives. The gravity of the situation is balanced out with humour, wit and a real sense of camaraderie. Brendan Mackey is superb as Seamus, who is chosen as Bobby Sands second-in-command, to oversee the hunger strike when Sands is too weak. The relatively unknown supporting cast are sure to become familiar faces if their performances here are anything to go by.
Director Les Blair chose to shoot the film entirely in a reconstructed Maze Prison. Having little space to work with, he captures this claustrophobia and still manages to hold the attention of the audience. 'H3' doesn't aim to punch you in the emotional gut. It has more of a documentary feel to it, and focuses on personal relationships and the unstinting will of the human spirit. Not so much harrowing, as humane and a reminder of one of the darkest periods of Anglo-Irish history.