Sinead O’Shea’s acclaimed new Irish documentary A Mother Brings Her Son to Be Shot is set for nationwide cinema release on September 14th. The release comes a successful festival tour which included stops at London, Dublin, Glasgow and Belfast International Film Festivals, CPH:DOX, Copenhagen, the Galway Film Fleadh, New Zealand and Sydney Film Festivals
“What would cause a Derry mother to bring her son to be shot?” O’Shea’s documentary asks that extraordinary question.
One night in 2012, Majella O’Donnell took her teenage son Philly to a laneway near to her home to be shot in the legs by local gunmen. In a shocking, intimate yet often warm and surprisingly humorous portrait of a family, A Mother Brings Her Son to Be Shot tells their story.
Majella, her son and the gunmen are all part of the dissident community in Derry, Northern Ireland. The Troubles in Northern Ireland was supposed to have ended in 1998 with the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, but this community do not accept the government or police. To them, the war is not over, even as family life continues.
In the absence of a normal relationship with the police, dissident Republicans step in to combat a perceived drug epidemic with their own brutal form of justice. Majella was faced with an agonising choice: cooperate with a punishment shooting or risk even worse consequences for her son.
Filmed over five years by renowned journalist Sinead O’Shea (Al Jazeera English, Channel 4, The Irish Times, The New York Times, The Guardian), A Mother Brings Her Son to Be Shot has been described by Screen International as “fascinating and gutsy” and RTE as “shocking but unexpectedly humorous.” O’Shea’s achievement is to create profound empathy, making you question how you would have acted, even as you watch the astonishing drama unfold.
The film was nominated for the Fact Award at CPH:DOX, the Maysles Observational Documentary Award at Belfast, and Best International Documentary at EBS in Korea. O’Shea also represented the UK and Ireland as one of Europe’s top 10 female filmmakers at the Sydney Film Festival.
A Mother Brings Her Son to Be Shot is produced by Sinead O’Shea, Ailish Bracken and Katie Holly of Blinder Films, with Figs Jackman and André Singer of Spring Films, and Oscar-nominated Executive Producer Joshua Oppenheimer. The production and release received the support of Screen Ireland, RTÉ and Inevitable Pictures.
There will be a Q&A with Sinead O’Shea after the Opening Night screening on September 14th at the Light House Cinema, Dublin (Booking open here) and in the Queen’s Film Theatre, Belfast on September 15th.