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PRODUCTION / FUNDING Ireland / UK

Irish doc The Ghost of Richard Harris to be showcased in Venice Classics

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- Adrian Sibley’s feature promises to deliver “a new picture of an extraordinary man through the places and people that were dear to him”

Irish doc The Ghost of Richard Harris to be showcased in Venice Classics
Richard Harris in The Ghost of Richard Harris

Adrian Sibley’s documentary The Ghost of Richard Harris is set to world-premiere at the upcoming edition of the Venice Film Festival (31 August-10 September). The feature will take part in the Venice Classics strand of the gathering, which traditionally highlights recent restorations of classic films, as well as documentaries about cinema and its protagonists.

Before embarking on this portrait documentary, Sibley had directed and produced a number of non-fiction projects for both film and TV, including The Road to Palmyra (starring Dan Cruickshank and Don McCullin travelling war-torn Syria), How To Get A Head in Sculpture, The Kate Bush Story: Running Up That Hill, Prince: Last Year of a Legend and the series Faulks on Fiction.

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Produced by Samson Films (Ireland), Bright Yellow Films (UK) and Groove International (UK), and financed by the former alongside Screen Ireland and Sky Arts, Sibley’s documentary aims to build “a new picture of an extraordinary man through the places and people that were dear to him.”

Richard Harris (1930-2002) has been one of the most prominent Irish artists. A talented actor and singer, he worked on memorable films such as A Man Called Horse, Red Desert, The Field, Unforgiven, Gladiator and the first two instalments of the Harry Potter saga, where he played Albus Dumbledore. He recorded several albums, with his best-known song being the seven-minute hit ‘MacArthur Park’, included in A Tramp Shining (1968).

The documentary-maker had met Harris before his passing through his son Damian. Since then, his sons had been approached multiple times by documentary-makers, but turned them down as Sibley was the one their father had selected to tell his tale.

The film features unseen family footage shot by Richard himself, taken from the family’s archive, recently discovered Super 8 footage from his childhood, and audio from interviews Richard gave over the years, including selected extracts from Joe Jackson’s interviews. It also explores Harris through the eyes of his sons and close friends, including Russell Crowe, Stephen Rea, Jimmy Webb and Vanessa Redgrave.

The executive producers of The Ghost of Richard Harris are Celine Haddad for Screen Ireland, along with David Blake-Knox, Mike Downey, Philip Edgar-Jones and Jack Oliver. Canada's Amcomri Entertainment-owned Abacus Media Rights is in charge of worldwide distribution. It is set to air in the UK on Sky Arts and the streaming service NOW over the course of the year.

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