Sydney’s second annual Irish Film Festival concluded at The Chauvel Cinema in Sydney’s Paddington following four days of screenings, closing with the Australian premiere of Lost In The Living, which chronicles an Irish musician’s (Tadgh Murphy from Vikings and Black Sails) weekend in Berlin, a whirlwind romance, and an introduction to the city’s unique nightlife. The film’s director, Robert Manson, flew out from Dublin for the Australian premiere, and sat down with Glen Falkenstein to discuss the film and the growth of Irish cinema. “This is a love letter to Berlin,” says Manson. “I created this project from memories, from experiences, from friends and other people that I met, from observations, chance happenings, things I read, and things that I overheard on trains. I wanted to put it all together in one constructed piece so that I could take it out of my brain and then maybe go to another city and do something else or just go and explore another culture, but Berlin just didn’t let me go.”
A low-budget production, Manson sometimes had to adopt guerrilla filmmaking tactics to get the film made at the authentic Berlin locations that he wanted, shooting quickly and completing principal photography in a matter of weeks. “There’s a lot of space, and great big city streets and parks that aren’t crowded, so you can find a little corner to shoot in,” the director says. “Small independent films don’t really get shot there. I was told to just go and shoot it, and just do it. I was told to just get this one permission slip which is a general permit for having a camera in the city. It’s 100 euros, and then you just go and do it. No one will even notice; so we did, and nobody did. They have a no camera policy in clubs, so we shot in one of the dirtiest little clubs called The Golden Gate. When we were asking for permission, everyone said that there was no chance in hell that we could get to film there, but we told them what we were doing, and they liked the idea and they liked the project, so they invited us to come and shoot it. Authenticity is a big thing in Berlin, so choosing locations for clubs and pubs and things like that is very important.”
With Irish filmmakers expanding their projects to a number of countries including Australia, Manson also shared his thoughts on the development of Irish cinema and the prospects for follow-ups to Lost In The Living. “The diaspora of Ireland is so gigantic,” he says. “People are moving around and sharing their stories. They’re working on songs or projects, and they’re writing theatre, dance, film, and everything together. There are those little Irish communities in places like Sydney and in Berlin, where there’s a huge community now. Those old notions of what Ireland used to be are changing. When I fly into Sydney, I get a very fresh opinion of Ireland, because it’s from people who’ve been here for a long time, and it’s a twist on what I would recognise from being there or living there; it’s a new perspective, with new ideas. It always helps something resonate or grow, and it’s exciting to film in Ireland at the minute or in many of the cities that Irish people inhabit.
“I want to do a trilogy of Irish perspectives from and in Berlin, so Dublin and Berlin – for the first one, Lost in The Living, it’s a newcomer’s touristic perspective with fresh eyes in a new place and culture, there’s alienation, new ideas and possibilities, there’s a freshness of a new city. The second film is about living in the city a number of years, getting into the culture, bedding down and finding a new home and then how that is reflected in being away from Ireland for a long period of time, and then the third part would be returning to Ireland after being in Berlin for a long time.”
Supported by The Irish Film Board and the Consulate-General of Ireland in Sydney, this year’s festival featured a special focus on the centenary of the 1916 revolution and its continuing effects, including 2016: The Irish Rebellion, a documentary narrated by Liam Neeson. Opening with Glassland, focused on the world of human trafficking and starring Jack Reynor (Transformers: Age Of Extinction) and Toni Collette, the festival also featured a showing of the Irish animation, Song Of The Sea, which screened at last year’s Sydney Film Festival.
A version of this article originally appeared on FilmInk
Glen writes film reviews, features, commentary and covers local festivals and events. Glen lives in Sydney. He tweets
You can read Ruth Hogan’s report from the festival here