Terry George is no stranger to the Troubles. He was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in 1952 and lived in the embattled region until he emigrated to New York in 1981, the same year as Irish prisoner Bobby Sands‘s deadly hunger strike. “It dominated my life growing up,” says George about living amidst the conflict between Protestant unionists and Irish Catholic nationalists, which lasted from the 1960s until the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. “It was a pretty intense civil war, so your whole life was kind of built around that and determined by it.”
That includes much of his subsequent artistic life. George revisited the Troubles multiple times on film, as the screenwriter of “In the Name of the Father” (1993) and “The Boxer” (1997) and as the writer and director of “Some Mother’s Son” (1996). His latest film, “The Shore,” is his fourth as a director and his first short film. The 29-minute drama tells the story of two best friends (Ciaran Hinds and Conleth Hill) who reunite 25 years after being separated by the Troubles. Taking place after the end of the conflict, it’s a much lighter film than his previous efforts, and for him it is “a reflection on where the people of Northern Ireland are today.”
But the Troubles are not the only reason the film hits close to home for the filmmaker. “‘The Shore’ was literally shot outside my front door,” he says of the Belfast production. In addition, stars Hinds and Hill and composer David Holmes are natives of Northern Ireland, and one character was loosely based on George’s uncle.
Family played an even bigger part behind the scenes; George’s sister Catherine designed the costumes, his son was an assistant director, and his daughter Oorlagh (pictured, center) was a producer. When considering the family affair, he laughs and says, “When you’re working with family, diplomacy can go out the window when it comes to the discussions and disputes … but generally it was a fantastic experience.” He would gladly collaborate with his family in the future, he explains, adding, “I’m quite sure pretty soon I’ll be working for my daughter. She’s a pretty ambitious producer.”
“The Shore” is now nominated for Best Live-Action Short at the Academy Awards. It’s the first nomination for Oorlagh George, but it’s the third for Terry, who received previous screenwriting bids for “In the Name of the Father” and “Hotel Rwanda” (2004).
On Feb. 10, “The Shore,” along with the 14 other nominated live-action, animated, and documentary shorts, was released to over 200 theaters across the United States and Canada. It will be available individually on iTunes beginning on February 21.
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