The Siege of Jadotville is a 2016 action-war film directed by Richie Smyth and written by Kevin Brodbin. An Irish-South African production, the film is based on Declan Power’s book, The Siege at Jadotville: The Irish Army’s Forgotten Battle (2005), about an Irish Army unit’s role in the UN peacekeeping mission in the Congo in September 1961.
The film opens with the assassination of Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba and the outbreak of civil war. As the mineral rich State of Katanga secedes under the leadership of Moise Tshombe, United Nations Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld assigns Conor Cruise O’Brien to head up a UN peacekeeping mission. Privately, Hammarskjöld tells O’Brien that the Katanga crisis could potentially trigger World War III and orders the Irish diplomat to take offensive action.
Meanwhile, Irish Army Commandant Pat Quinlan commands an infantry company of Irish peacekeepers who arrive at the UN compound near Jadotville. After examining the compound, Quinlan decides that it is wide open to attack and orders his men to dig trenches and defensive fighting positions.
While buying food in the nearest town, Quinlan meets French mercenary Rene Faulques, who has been hired by the mining companies allied to Tshombe’s government. Afterwards, he visits the estate of a Belgian colonist, Madam LaFongagne, who tells him that Jadotville contains the world’s richest uranium deposits.
Meanwhile, O’Brien orders UN forces to launch an attack against Government buildings held by the Katangese in Elizabethville. While Indian peacekeepers are attempting to seize the city’s radio station, 30 unarmed Katangese are killed by gunfire and grenades. O’Brien orders the incident to be swept under the rug.
In retaliation, Faulques receives orders to attack Jadotville. Katangese forces and mercenaries under Faulques’ command attack and besiege the Irish. During a brief ceasefire, Faulques vainly demands Quinlan’s surrender.
Quinlan refuses, and his company is attacked repeatedly in separate waves by the Katangese and mercenary forces. They kill a total of 300 enemy soldiers, and wound 1,000 enemy soldiers, with zero deaths and only 16 wounded for the Irish.
After many extended waves of battle, the Irish company is forced to surrender to Faulques’s troops after running out of ammunition. They are held in a Katangese prison for about a month, then are freed in a prisoner exchange deal and are allowed to go home.
- Jamie Dornan as Commandant Pat Quinlan.
- Mark Strong as Conor Cruise O’Brien.
- Mikael Persbrandt as Dag Hammarskjöld.
- Danny Sapani as Moise Tshombe.
- Jason O’Mara as Sergeant Jack Prendergast.
- Michael McElhatton as General McEntee.
- Guillaume Canet as Rene Faulques.
- Fiona Glascott as Carmel Quinlan.
- Emmanuelle Seigner as Madame LaFontagne.
- Sam Keeley as Billy (Sniper) Ready.
- Conor MacNeill as Radio op.
- Luc Van Gunderbeeck as Charles de Gaulle.
- The actors were put through a training camp in South Africa before filming.
- First screened at the 2016 Galway Film Festival, the film received a limited cinema distribution in Ireland in September 2016.
- It had simultaneous worldwide distribution on Netflix and in a number of US iPic Theatres during October 2016.
- It won three Irish Film & Television Awards, including Best Director.
Production & Filming Details
- Director(s): Richie Smyth.
- Producer(s): Alan Moloney, Ruth Coady, Johanna Hogan, and Justin Moore-Lewy.
- Writer(s): Kevin Brodin.
- Music: Joseph Trapanese.
- Cinematography: Nikolaus Summerer.
- Editor(s): Alex Mackie.
- Production: Parallel Films.
- Distributor(s): Netflix.
- Release Date: 10 July 2016 (Galway Film Festival), 19 September 2016 (Ireland general release), and 07 October 2016 (Worldwide).
- Running time: 108 minutes.
- Country: Ireland and South Africa.
- Language: English.