Lockerbie Pan Am 103 film being made
When I first read that there was a script being developed and a film planned within the next few years I was surprised. Not that it's too soon, far from it in fact, it actually feels like there's been a little too much time passed and perhaps Lockerbie and those affected by the events don't want to go back.
Then I read what was behind the intended story, what the events of a film would follow, and it's not what you might think. After reading the intentions I've gone from hating the idea and thinking that it was perhaps in poor taste to thinking that perhaps this story does need to be told.
The events of 21st December 1988 saw the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie killing all two hundred and seventy passengers, crew and people on the ground. It was a terrible tragedy and one of the dead aboard the plane was Flora MacDonald Swire, daughter of Dr. Jim Swire, a man who began to stand up as a spokesperson for those who died in the tragedy. He took it upon himself to push for justice and the truth from the governments involved.
Since the events he's been campaigning to find out who was really behind the events of that day, someone other than the Libyan agent Abdel Basset Ali Al-Megrahi who was convicted of the crime and who died recently in his home in Libya after being released early on compassionate grounds when he was diagnosed with cancer.
Strangely Dr Swire visited Al-Megrahi in prison and cared for him during his illness, a strange thing to ask of a man whose daughter has allegedly been murdered by the patient he's charged with caring for.
The script for the film is, according to The Hollywood Reporter, being written by Jim Sheridan and Audrey O'Reilly who might just be set to direct it once the script is ready.
Looking at the IMDB entry for the film, currently entitled Lockerbie, it has the script being written by O'Reilly from a book by Jim Swire and Peter Biddulph. Looking up their names it appears that Biddulph has been working with Swire on the website LockerbieTruth.com and also together on a book about the events following the bombing. According to the website the book has been well received and although not completed it has been picked up for a script treatment.
With Jim Sheridan's involvement it's certainly marking a step up on the production and he seems very positive on the production which he says will happen in the next few years. He goes on to talk about how the film will tell the events, the main thing that concerned me about the whole idea.
"It's a drama basically looking at the effect on a family of terrorism…
…It was this weird thing where you think you've found the person who killed your daughter, and then Jim ended up in the cell looking after him -- because he's a doctor and the guy wasn't well -- and it's obvious as the nose on your face that Megrahi didn't do it…"
There are many twists and turns to the real story and one of the most popular explanations that Al-Megrahi wasn't responsible for the crime was that a defected former Iranian intelligence officer claimed that the terrorist act was carried out by a Syrian based terrorist group who were under orders from Iran. They wanted revenge for a U.S. Navy strike that happened six months beforehand that resulted in the downing of an Iranian commercial jet killing two hundred and ninety people.
The story points out that Jim Swire will be a special guest at Jim Sheridan's inaugural Dublin Arabic Film Festival, which is scheduled to start in Dublin's Light House Cinema on May 8th.
It all seems as though the project is moving forward and it's a strong angle from which to tell the events, much better than the initial story I expected which would have concentrated on the terrorist attack. Instead the story is going to be on a much more human and personal level, sounding as though it will be about the Doctor's campaign and his caring for the man who the law claimed had murdered his daughter.
If it does end up being directed by Jim Sheridan then we're going to be in for a powerful film, after all he's directed My Left Foot, The Field, In the Name of the Father, The Boxer and Brothers, films that are emotionally strong, tell powerful personal stories, and are filled with political and dramatic stories. He sounds like a perfect choice of director to take the reins of a project on a topic that many in Scotland and America find emotionally raw.