This critical breakthrough showcases Paul Greengrass’s signature ability to make the recent past seem viscerally present. The titular Sunday was January 30 1972, when a group of British troops massacred 14 unarmed civil rights marchers in the Northern Irish city of Derry. Greengrass limits his focus to the 24 hours surrounding the massacre, documenting the proceedings with an activist’s righteous anger, a historian’s sense for the politics of the period, a journalist’s attention to the relevant facts and, last but not least, a filmmaker’s eye for the visual texture of his chosen time and place. The result feels like watching history unfold in real time, an impression that’s not entirely inaccurate: of the film’s many extras, a handful marched on that Sunday themselves.

Peter Greengrass's new film Captain Philipps is opening the 51st New York Film Festival.