Behind the Scenes - Blood Fruit

Sinead O’Brien has made a career in non-fiction writing and documentaries. We asked her what drew her to the subject of this award-winning film.

Q: Can you tell us about the background of the film “Blood Fruit”?

Sinead--Blood Fruit is a documentary film set in the 1980's, when Apartheid was at its height and millions of black South Africans were living under the brutal regime. While governments around the world refused to sanction this economically rich and influential country, one young shop worker from Dublin, Mary Manning, decided to take a stand by refusing to register the sale of two (South African) Outspan grapefruits.  What at first appeared to be an insignificant action quickly escalated into a mass protest that spanned over three years. Blood Fruit is a timely and hopefully inspiring film that shows us when ordinary people decide take a stand against those in power change can be brought about. 

Q:  How did you get involved in the project or did the project start with you?

Sinead--Noel Pearson, the producer, had been thinking about making the project for a while and asked me to get involved.  I did some initial research and was intrigued that something so hugely significant has more or less been written out of history. But it was when I met the strikers that my mind was made up--their determination and passion as regards international human rights and the struggle in South Africa seems to put value on a human life before economic and self-serving political decisions. It seems as relevant, if not more, now as it was back then.  

Q: How long have you been working on the project?

Sinead--In all about two years from the starting point of research to raising the finance to finally completing the project earlier this summer.   The process of documentary making can be a long one so I would often have a couple of projects on the go.

Q: What really excites, inspires or motivates you about documentary film?

Sinead--The things that excite and motivate me most about documentary making is the fact that you have a starting point but you never know quite where the story is going to until close to the end.  Unlike fiction stories there is no script--the story is drawn together gradually and you will have aspects of the narrative changing and unfolding all the way through the process.  What inspires me most is meeting new people with real and often difficult stories to tell.  This is a business that you will never make you rich but at the same time you will never be left feeling bored or dissatisfied.

Q: Who do you think will enjoy the movie you have directed?

 Sinead--I think anybody who has a genuine regard for those who are suffering or lacking in society both in Ireland and around the world.  I would also like to think it will inspire anyone who respects the action of the underdog against those in power and hopefully give the individual some kind of motivation to do the same--no matter how small or insignificant their action may be, it could help to bring about change for themselves and others.

Sinead O’Brien will be among Solas Nua’s special guests at the Capital Irish Film  Festival from Feb. 5 through Feb. 8, when “Blood Fruit” plays on the closing night. She will join us for an audience reception at the Goethe-Institut after the show. Get your tickets at Eventbrite