Barry Ward and Tom Vaughan-Lawlor in MAZE

#IrishFilm: Stephen Burke’s Maze captures biggest Irish film opening of 2017

Stephen Burke’s new Irish feature Maze achieved the biggest opening weekend for an Irish film on the island of Ireland since Lenny Abrahamson’s Room in January 2016. The film opened without previews to over €141k (£124k) after its release on Friday on 65 screens (between the Republic (€94k) and Northern Ireland). It is currently number 3 on the Irish box office chart.

Maze received its World Premiere at the Galway Film Fleadh in July, followed by a screening at the Belfast Film Festival in September, as well as featuring as the cinema highlight of Cork’s Culture Night film programme on Friday 22nd September.

Based on the true story of the 1983 mass break-out of 38 IRA prisoners from HMP Maze high-security prison in Northern Ireland. As Larry Marley (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor), the chief architect of the escape, schemes his way towards pulling off this feat, he comes into contact with prison warder, Gordon Close (Barry Ward). Initially Larry and Gordon are confirmed enemies, born on opposite sides of Northern Ireland’s political divide, but when Larry realises that Gordon may be unwittingly useful for his escape plan, a slow seduction begins. Larry intends to use and manipulate Gordon in order to get closer to his goal but what follows is a tense, and intriguing drama in which an unlikely relationship is forged between two enemies that will have far reaching consequences for both of them.

The film shot for four weeks at the recently decommissioned Cork prison and around Cork City, before moving to Sweden. The film is written and directed by Stephen Burke, no stranger to Cork as a previous two time first prize winner of the Cork International Film Festival with his early short films, After ’68 and ’81.

Maze is produced by Jane Doolan of Mammoth Films and Brendan J Byrne of Cyprus Avenue Films. Maze has been developed with funding from Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board, Northern Ireland Screen, Film Vast, RTE, and BAI, with both Cork County Council and Cork County Council Arts Offices providing regional support.

Maze is out now in Irish cinemas, with a strong recommendation from us. Check out our recent interview with director Stephen Burke below.