David Strathairn an actor's actor
Terrorism. Immigration. An overreaching government infringing on people’s rights. A violent attack on the establishment. These are some of the elements of the film “No God, No Master,” one of the highlights of the Sedona International Film Festival this year.
Along with the strength of the film and the resonating themes, the movie is getting much buzz at the festival for the appearance of its lead, David Strathairn. Strathairn earned a Best Actor Academy Award nomination for the 2005 film “Good Night, and Good Luck.”
“We are so honored to premiere ‘No God, No Master’ here, and we are even more honored that Oscar nominee David Strathairn will join us at the festival,” said Patrick Schweiss, the festival’s executive director. “It is a real coup for our festival to get an actor of his caliber here for our big event.”
The movie will screen on Friday, March 1, at 3:10 p.m. and Saturday, March 2, at 6 p.m. The first screening is at Harkins Sedona 6 and the second one is at the Sedona Performing Arts Center at the Sedona Red Rock High School.
Learn more about tickets and other details at www.sedonafilmfestival.org or by calling (928) 282-1177.
The first of the two engagements will feature the director, Terry Green, who will be on hand to lead a question-and-answer session about the film. For the Saturday screening, Green will be joined by Strathairn for a Q&A on the second to last night of the festival.
The film is based on the true story of a series of bombings that rocked New York City during the summer of 1919 and led up to a bombing of Wall Street that killed 38 people and was, at the time, the deadliest act of domestic terrorism. The bombings were carried out by Italian immigrants who were labeled as anarchists.
Strathairn plays Flynn, a field agent for the Bureau of Investigation who is sent to investigate the bombings that have targeted powerful politicians and businessmen, including John D. Rockefeller Sr. But as a resident of Little Italy he is torn as he tries to distinguish the villains from the merely discontented.
“I felt that this was a piece of history that is relatively under the radar,” Stathairn said in a recent phone interview. “To me, the whole anarchist’s movement of the time dovetails into what’s going on in domestic terrorism and international terrorism today … The film is about who is culpable and who is not and what happens to all of the people who get caught in the firing lines.”
He added, “What I felt with ‘No God, No Master’ was the attempt to make Flynn the man in there with the common people. He’s trying to protect them, but he is someone who can see the contradictory issues at hand — whether its immigration or government or corporate influences having power.”
Strathairn previously worked with Green on another historic period drama “Heavens Fall,” about the Scottsboro Boys. Green, who also agreed to a phone interview with the Daily Sun, said he grew his recent film from his observations of legal and political issues during the last Bush Administration.
“Having lived through the Bush-Cheney years, I saw injustices such as the wrongful detaining of the suspects,” said Green, who considered certain post-9/11 policies a “disintegration of justice.” “Yes, this film is about an obscure piece of history, but it shows that history unchecked goes on to repeat itself. That was the angle I pursued.”
Strathairn is no stranger to historic period dramas with a message. His Academy Award nomination came for playing Edward R. Murrow, who pitted himself against Sen. Joseph McCarthy during the communist Red Scare days.
He also played Sid Hatfield, the police chief in “Matewan,” which is about the 1920 West Virginia coal miners’ strike. More recently, he played Secretary of State William Seward in the Steven Spielberg biopic “Lincoln,” a film that leads the Oscar race this year with 12 nominations.
“I realize that film is becoming our historic library in many ways,” Strathairn said. “It becomes a documentation or recollection of what is happening or has happened. There are films that are beautiful investigations of the human condition, but the history is part of what has made our culture.”
When it comes to movies about the human condition in any stripe, Starthairn has delivered in several of them. He has appeared in several features by director John Sayles, who, along with Green, utilizes Strathairn’s strengths for playing subtle yet emotionally roiling characters.
“David Staithairn delivers quiet, strong performances,” Green said. “He’s a reliable actor with that quiet strength. He’s also worked in this period of American history on films such as ‘Eight Men Out’ (about the 1919 World Series scandal).”
As for “No God, No Master,” Green is excited to bring it to the Sedona International Film Festival. He is curious to see how the crowd reacts to the themes in the film.
“It’ll be interesting to see how people react to the film as it deals with immigration and domestic terrorism,” Green said. “We showed the film in Milwaukee, which is where we filmed it to have Milwaukee stand in for 1919 New York, and there the focus was more on union issues. So, that was a big part of the Q&A. It’s going to be an interesting run in Sedona … in a conservative state where immigration is a big issue.”
If you go
What: Film “No God, No Master” screened at the Sedona International Film Festival
When: Friday, March 1 at 3:10 p.m. and Saturday, March 2 at 6 p.m.
Where: Harkins Sedona 6 and Sedona Performing Arts Center, respectively