'I am standing on the threshold of another trembling world. May God have mercy on my soul.'
With these words, IRA volunteer Bobby Sands began his hunger strike on March 1st 1981.
Sands’ undoubted act of personal bravery brought Ireland to a standstill as the outside world looked on to see an intense battle unfold between an unseen prisoner and the might of the British Government.66 DAYS tells the factual story of Bobby Sands’ life for the first time on film.
As we step through the day-specific narrative, we reveal the man at the centre of events, in a probing personal portrait that separates man from myth, and fact from fiction.Seeing himself as a soldier in a conflict, Bobby Sands died for the right to be recognised as a political prisoner. He chose hunger strike, against the wishes of his movement’s leadership, in the full knowledge it would bring the world’s attention to his fight.
Using eye-witness testimony, unseen archive, reconstructions and animation, this cinematic odyssey serves as both the definitive account of a self-created Irish martyr and a seismic moment in 20th century Irish history, the legacy of which we continue to live with today.
In 66 DAYS we document an ordinary life lived at the epicentre of a turbulent and tragic conflict, which then became extraordinary as a young idealist starved himself to death to preserve the integrity of the republican movement he loyally served. The film charts how Sands became the architect of his own destiny, and saw him ascend into the ranks of international icon status.
Sands own words form the heart of the film, through his many poems, letters and ‘comms’ all penned inside prison, and in particular, his personal diary which he kept for the first 17 days of his hunger strike. Sands’ collected writings provide an invaluable window into his beliefs, feelings and aspirations. They serve to place his voice at the centre of the film and take us inside his head, the place where Sands eventually found freedom.
Sands’ prison diary is perhaps the most unique historical document in existence of one man’s articulation of his beliefs while on hunger strike. This powerful handwritten diary has never been seen before in public, and we have secured exclusive access to this historical treasure trove, which forms the spine of the film’s narrative.
Threaded through Sands’ personal biography we bring our audience on a parallel journey of understanding to reveal the events that first politicised the young Sands and the influences of Irish Republican history on Sands’ actions which he learned during his imprisonment. In this regard, the film is as interested in the WHY of Bobby Sands’ story as it is the WHAT.Sands died on May 5th 1981, aged 27 and parliaments across the world stopped for a minute's silence in his honour.
While Sands came to prominence in death, this film aims for the first time to explore his life, examining the powerful character he was as it charts the reasons he chose the death of a martyr.66 DAYS unifies the myriad threads of the complex, 25-year long Northern Ireland conflict into one single overarching narrative. In the film’s final chapter, we capture Sands’ legacy. Former comrades and commentators reflect on how the 66 days of Sands’ 1981 hunger strike changed Irish history forever.