Arnie Holland (L '74, W '71), Street’s third ever editor–in–chief, is making waves in the film industry. As current president of Lightyear Entertainment, Holland is leading the team in charge of U.S. distribution for Maze, an exciting film project set to release in the United States on March 22. The film was released originally in Ireland in September of 2017, where it scored the biggest opening weekend in Ireland for a domestic film that year. The plot follows the action of an infamous breakout from the Irish Republican Army prison, and is sure to leave the audience on the edge of their seats.
Holland’s involvement in the world of media began at Penn with his love for Street. He kept this passion in mind when writing his law school thesis, which imagined the future of the home video industry years before it was a reality.
He has clearly come a long way, and Maze is a testament to that journey. As the owner of Lightyear Entertainment, he has the opportunity to put out media that people everywhere will see. Clearly passionate about the entertainment industry, Holland advises, “it’s difficult to break in, but once you do it’s really lucrative, and it’s never boring!”
Holland was “very impressed” when he viewed the film for the first time at its Palm Springs Film Festival screening in early 2018, and decided to pick up the project when he witnessed its impact on the audience. “They were loving it,” he proudly remarks, “... It’s exciting. It’s a thriller. It reminded me of an old film with Steve McQueen, The Great Escape.”
Maze documents the most monumental prison escape to occur in Europe since World War II. However, the struggle between the leader of the escape, Larry Marley (played by Tom Vaughan–Lawlor) and the lead prison guard, Gordon Close (played by Barry Ward), represents more than just a typical prisoner–warden power dynamic. Rather, it's representative of “The Troubles,” a turbulent time in Irish history when the Protestant majority and Catholic minority fought over whether Ireland should become independent. Close manages to plan and execute an escape from one of the most secure prisons in all of Europe, Her Majesty's Prison Maze. As the action unfolds, viewers become familiar with his genius as well as the tumultuous state of conflict inside and outside of the prison.
Holland clearly has a soft spot for films that go beyond the surface. When asked about the message of Maze, he ponders his response before confidently replying, “People can engage each other in conversation and resolution of differences if they try.”
He believes this message is one we should keep in mind today. “It’s a warning,” he says, “when you have two sides which are so polarized, it can lead to violence—and currently in this country we have two sides that are polarized.”
For those interested in seeing Maze, it will be coming to Philadelphia this March or April.