Vanessa Redgrave: Actress, Documentarian, Political Activist, and Refugee

Hollywood legend Vanessa Redgrave is coming to Dublin! She will receive the most prestigious award ADIFF has to offer - the Volta Award. At eighty-one, she is also bringing her directorial debut to the festival - Sea Sorrow - a moving documentary on the current refugee crisis. But how much do you really know about her? Michael Haubner gives us a personal reflection on Redgrave's incredible life.

"When I was about five years old, I was prematurely introduced to films more mature than what your typical five-year-old would watch, one of which was Murder on the Orient Express (1974). I remember the jarring opening credits, in which there are flashes of newspaper cutouts, describing the kidnapping and murder of an infant girl, accompanied by Richard Rodney Bennett’s terrifying and ominous music. And who could forget Albert Finney’s hilariously greasy moustache (albeit Kenneth Branagh managed to pull off an even more ridiculous one in the recent remake)? But for me, one of the most commanding presences onscreen, among one of the most star-studded casts of all time, was the inimitable Vanessa Redgrave. Her poise, her grace, her voice—not many actresses have her qualities.
Redgrave began her theatrical debut playing Rosalind in the 1961 production of As You Like It with the Royal Shakespeare Company in London. She performed in over thirty productions in London’s West End, and eventually moved to Broadway. At eighty-one years old, Redgrave has earned just about every award given for performances imaginable: Emmy, Golden Globe, Academy Award, Screen Actor’s Guild, Cannes, BAFTA, Tony, and Olivier; this is a feat rarely accomplished by many actors of her caliber.

What might not be commonly known about her is that she lived through the bombings in London during World War II. She remembers vividly having to flee from her home to live in an area of Britain that wasn’t under attack, feeling like “refugees in our own country.” At an early age, she was forced into a life where she could easily sympathize with those who have been displaced from their homelands, inspiring a sense of political activeness that has spanned since then. She has campaigned for human rights, protested war, criticized government regimes, and brought attention to other various civil rights or political issues for many years.

Her newest project is a documentary called Sea Sorrow, which tackles the tricky situation of child refugees in a current crisis throughout parts of Europe. As a former refugee herself, Redgrave reflects on this global refugee crisis, using a combination of her own personal experiences, historically contextual evidence, and on-site reportage, historical context, that thoughtfully inspires the audience to not displace those that are vulnerable, but rather to include everyone in a shared, humane community.

A wide range of notable, award-winning performances, followed by decades of controversial political activeness: Vanessa Redgrave has a unique talent and is a force to be reckoned with. She will be honored with the prestigious Volta Award this year, another trophy to add to her shelf of many, deservedly. Sea Sorrow will be showing on March 3rd, at 4:00 at the Cineworld Cinema, in which Vanessa Redgrave herself will be in attendance.

Don't miss Vanessa Redgrave in Dublin:

Saturday 3rd March
16.00 Sea Sorrow Cineworld 17
In attendance: Vanessa Redgrave and Carlo Nero

Sunday 4th March
12.00 Vanessa Redgrave Volta Presentation The Gate