“Nothing Compares,” a documentary about the life and career of Sinead O’Connor, will be released in theaters in New York and Los Angeles on Sept. 23 for a one-week run that qualify it for Academy Award consideration. The film’s theatrical release will come days ahead of the docu’s Sept. 30 Showtime streaming and on-demand debut.
The 97-minute film, directed by Kathryn Ferguson, traces O’Connor’s rise to worldwide fame after “Nothing Compares 2 U” was released in 1990, as well as the Irish singer’s eventual exile from pop mainstream after she tore up a photo of Pope John Paul II on “Saturday Night Live” in 1992. The docu also examines other headline-grabbing controversies, like O’Connor’s refusal to perform at a New Jersey stadium amid the Persian Gulf War unless stadium officials agreed to forgo the playing of the national anthem. At the time, the star’s political and religious outrage was met with outrage. Told through a contemporary feminist lens, Ferguson’s portrait doc argues that O’Connor was 30 years ahead of her time.
The film is Ferguson’s documentary feature directorial debut. The Belfast-born helmer began working on “Nothing Compares” in 2018.
“In 2018 in Ireland, we were gearing up to the abortion referendum, and we just had the equal marriage referendum a few years prior, so it just felt absurd that Sinead’s voice wasn’t part of the conversation,” says Ferguson. “She was somebody who had been so bold and brave and who really kicked the door down, particularly (in Ireland). I felt like she needed to be part of the conversation, and it felt quite urgent.”
“Nothing Compares” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. After a bidding war, Showtime secured worldwide rights to the docu in February.
“I was impressed by Showtime and their fantastic roster of documentary films,” says Ferguson. “We were excited to be part of that, as a broadcaster streamer, they were very supportive of a theatrical release. When I was dreaming of this (project) in early 2018, I really hoped that it would get to be shared in a very cinematic way with audiences. So, the fact that it will be in theaters is just my wildest streams come true.”
The doc has gone on to win various awards at film festivals this year, including best Irish documentary at Galway Film Fleadh, the audience award for documentary at Aegean Film Festival, and the audience award at Docs Ireland. The film is produced by Eleanor Emptage and Michael Mallie for Tara Films (U.K.) and Ard Mhacha Productions (Ireland), in association with Field of Vision. Executive producers are Charlotte Cook, Lesley McKimm, Lucy Pullin, John Reynolds and Lisa Marie Russo. The film was supported by Screen Ireland, the BFI Doc Society Fund, IE:Entertainment and Northern Ireland Screen.
“Nothing Compares” makes its on-air debut on Oct. 2 on Showtime.