To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day simply and soberly, use Brooklyn Law Library’s AV Collection in Rm. 111 and check out In America, a 2003 drama directed by Jim Sheridan. Sheridan directed and co-wrote with his two daughters the semi-autobiographical screenplay, loosely based on the Irish director’s experiences coming to New York with his family as a young man. The film focuses on an immigrant Irish family’s efforts to survive in New York City, as seen through the eyes of the elder daughter.
The story is about Johnny and Sarah Sullivan and their two daughters who slipped illegally over the border from Canada into the US to move to NYC. No matter how squalid the building and how questionable the other tenants (including Mateo, the angry Nigerian painter who lives below them), they move into a large walk-up tenement in a seedy (unspecified) neighborhood. There Dad can pursue an acting career. In truth, he is trying to escape Ireland and the sad memories of the loss of a young who died of a brain tumor. The film locations include County Wicklow and Parnell Street in Dublin, Ireland as well as Times Square, Hell’s Kitchen and Harlem in New York City. See the trailer here:
The film received nominations for Academy Awards including Best Original Screenplay for Sheridan, Best Actress for Samantha Morton and Best Supporting Actor for Djimon Hounsou. From Ireland and Nigeria and elsewhere, America benefits from the will and faith of its immigrants. Imagine what it takes to leave home to try for a better life in another country. “In America” offers insight about the many ways in which it is hard to be a poor stranger in a new land.