"So an Irishman and an Englishman walk into a cell…" What could be the scene-setter for a particularly saucy ethnic joke is actually the premise of this claustrophobic character study from first-time writer/director John Furse. Set in Lebanon in the 1980s, when taking Westerners hostage became a sort of national pastime for a few years, Blind Flight relates the true story of Irish teacher Brian Keenan and British journalist John McCarthy, who were incarcerated together for four-and-a-half harrowing years. To call the pair mismatched would be an understatement. The surly nationalist Keenan and the genial toff McCarthy make the Defiant Ones look like Chang and Eng Bunker by comparison. But therein lies the drama. Working from a script that is as bare-bones as its stripped-down protagonists, Furse focuses like the proverbial laser beam, not on the politics of the Middle East, but on the personal conflict between these two captives. Keenan is at first hostile and then merely wary towards his cellmate, but over time (and with an assist from their increasingly brutal captors) the men form a bond. Soon they are playing chess, singing, killing mosquitoes, and defying their jailers together. Blind Flight has the grimy, closed-in look and feel of another "men imprisoned" film, Midnight Express, but it ultimately expresses a more optimistic worldview. Trapped in the most intolerable circumstances, separated by religion, culture, and politics, these two historical foes find a way to endure their pain together, proving true McCarthy's contention that, even under the worst conditions, "we can still choose joy."
John Furse has more than 25 years of experience in the film and television industry both in production, documentary filmmaking, and more recently as screenwriter/director with his directorial debut Blind Flight. Selected as one of the 12 "most promising" new U.K. screenwriters in 1990, his screenplays since then have included Hellbent and Conversations with an Executioner. His documentary credits as writer/producer include Living on the Edge (Houston Film Festival 1988 Special Jury Award for Theatrical Documentary) and The Time of Our Lives (BAFTA 1995 Grierson Award nomination). His recent documentary work for the BBC as writer/director includes Helen Bamber - On The Trail of Torture and Looks That Kill.