When one thinks of Vince Vaughn, popular comedies such as Wedding Crashers and The Break Up usually come to mind, but these days Vaughn is interested in promoting an Irish pet project that he’s been working on for years – a documentary about the political murals that are so prevalent all over the North.
The film is called Art of Conflict, and Vaughn will debut it at the Galway Film Fleadh this weekend.
How did he veer off his career track of making raunchy comedies? Vaughn has two Irish grandparents, and took a trip to Ireland a few years back with a friend. He was especially intrigued with what he encountered in Belfast, he tells The Irish Times.
“I was really moved by (the murals),” he told the paper. “Before that I wasn’t even aware that the murals existed. I know they came out of extreme conflict and represent extreme points of view. But I think they’re amazing to look at.
“Ever since – for years in fact – I’ve been talking about those murals to everyone. In my mind, they’re like blues music. They’re an amazing art form that comes from pain and conflict.”
Vaughn was aware of Northern Ireland’s violent history, but he decided to enlist his sister Valeri to learn more and put it on film.
“I was only vaguely aware of conflict in Ireland. It was something I heard about and thought, ‘Oh, that’s a shame.’ I wasn’t particularly informed,” he says.
“But because I was intrigued by the art, I started to investigate the murals. And once you ask the question why did they draw this and what does it represent, you learn about something that happened on the Shankill Road 20 years ago or you learn about plastic bullets. I’m still no expert on it by any means, but I know a lot more than I used to.”
Valeri and Vince spent long stretches of time in the North, interviewing politicians on all sides of the divide including Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams.
“We had so much footage and so many stories. There were so many people to track down. And you also have to structure the film in a way that explains what is happening for someone who knows nothing about this stuff,” explains Vaughn.
He’s more than happy to bring the finished project to one of Ireland’s most popular film fests this weekend.
“It’s the perfect place for us to show it,” says Vaughn. “We’ve been getting a really good response from people so it’s great that it’s getting out there.”
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