‘Black 47’ in Cinemas 7th September

Lance Daly’s Black 47 is set for a nationwide release on 7th September. Set during the Great Irish Famine, the film stars Hugo Weaving and Jim Broadbent and Stephen Rea.

It’s 1847 and Ireland is in the grip of the Great Famine that has ravaged the country for two long years. Feeney, a hardened Irish Ranger who has been fighting for the British Army abroad, abandons his post to return home and reunite with his family.  He’s seen more than his share of horrors, but nothing prepares him for the famine’s hopeless destruction of his homeland that has brutalised his people and where there seems to be no law and order. He discovers his mother starved to death and his brother hanged by the brutal hand of the English. With little else to live for, he sets a destructive path to avenge his family.

The screenplay was written by PJ Dillon (Rewind), Pierce Ryan (Standby), Eugene O’Brien (Eden) and Lance Daly.  Produced by Macdara Kelleher for Fastnet Films with Tim O’Hair, Arcadiy Golubovich and Jonathan Loughran, Black 47 was financed by Primemeridian Entertainment, the Irish Film Board, the Luxembourg Film Fund, Wildcard Distribution, Altitude, BAI, TV3, Eurimages, Umedia, Samsa Films and Fastnet Films.

 



“a rollicking western”
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Review of Irish Film @ ADIFF 2018: Black 47

Sarah Cullen saddles up for Lance Daly’s drama set in Ireland during the Great Famine.

Sometimes it pays to go into movies blind. Well, or as blind as you can to a film which you know is going to be about that big important event that has shaped your country’s history for the last hundred and fifty years. I’ll admit it, friends: I was expecting something appropriately Lenten. Something dreary, something slow-moving and self-important. Something, in other words, that was good for me. But good for me in that Catholic way. You know. Boring.

Boy, was I ever happy to be wrong. Not only is Lance Daly’s newest feature a rollicking western with fantastic action and excellent performances, it also demonstrates how a film’s subject matter can add much-needed pathos and nuance to a genre. Colour me impressed.

Black 47 follows Feeney (James Frecheville), an Irish ranger who has returned home to Connemara after fleeing his post in the British army. Upon arrival, he discovers that his family has been evicted and his mother and brother have died in the famine. Seeking out answers (and a spot of revenge), he takes it upon himself to find those responsible for his family’s destruction. Meanwhile, word of Feeney’s desertion has reached the British battalion in Dublin and Feeney’s former comrade, Hannah (Hugo Weaving), is recruited to hunt him down.

Of course, that is not to say the Ireland depicted here isn’t bleak in the extreme, which is just as it should be. With a fantastically evocative soundtrack and populated by skeletal extras, the Conemara depicted is one straight out of the collective Irish memory. The harsh landscapes of empty and dilapidated cottages doesn’t feel that distant, however. One cannot look at them without being reminded of the growing number of homeless families up and down the country. Indeed, Black 47 focuses much of its ire on the local landlords who exploited the poor classes for personal gain. With recent news surfacing of Dublin landlords employing heavies to break down doors to illegally evict tenants, such scenes have an added urgency to them.

Black 47 should also be praised for its fantastic stunt choreography. While many of the fight scenes take place in close quarters which best enables Feeney to square up against multiple adversaries (and also demonstrates his strategic cunning), larger shoot-outs demonstrate impressive directorial ability. Taking place in the courtyards of lavish Irish manors, such scenes bring another element to a novel take on the western.

While in its basic construction, Black 47 is not much different from other recent revenge films in the Taken franchise and its numerous imitations, its pathos comes from its wider examination of society. Black 47 recognises that Feeney’s operation cannot right all wrongs, nor that all the wrong-doing can be scapegoated to a single individual, or even a single group. Feeney’s mother dies not at the hands of one person, but because she chose not to “take the soup.” Her death is the fault of not only British but also of numerous Irish collaborators who chose to act on their own selfish impulses. Feeney can attempt to re-enact revenge on individuals, but he is powerless to affect larger social or political changes.

The drama is supported by an impressive cast: Frecheville’s Feeney is stoic but never uncaring. His carefully controlled rage is released when the situation calls for it, and Frecheville ensures that Feeney is an eternal presence. Hugo Weaving comes across anachronistically, but rather appropriately, as an Aussie who’s sick of being a subject of the Crown. Freddie Fox is eminently punchable as the British emissary who views the famine as a result of Irish laziness.

If the film has one failing it’s in its portrayal (or indeed, lack thereof) of Irish women. While Sarah Greene holds her own as Feeney’s resilient sister, Ellie, there are very few other women to speak of. Two of the film’s main male characters also use the metaphors of comely British maidens versus bedraggled Irish ones to compare the state of the two countries. One wonders whether an otherwise resourceful film needed to resort to such clichéd stereotypes.

Interestingly, while opening the film, Daly noted that at the film’s Berlin premier, several English critics appeared less than happy with the British portrayal in Black 47. An unwillingness to acknowledge Britain’s not-too-distant colonialism aside, such a response is somewhat surprising: without giving too much away, the film’s conclusion extends an invitation to redemption for one of its main English representatives. The choice may not be easy or simple, but then what about Brexit – uh, I mean history – is?

Black 47 screened on Wednesday, 21st February 2018 as part of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival (21 February – 4th March).

 

 

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‘Black 47’ to Premiere at Berlin International Film Festival

 

The Irish feature film Black 47 directed by Lance Daly (KissesLife’s A Breeze) will have its World Premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival next month. 

 

The film, which is an action movie set during the Great Irish Famine, stars Hugo Weaving (Hacksaw RidgeThe Lord of the RingsTheMatrix and Transformers franchises) and Jim Broadbent, (Oscar® winner for Iris) and the prolific Irish screen and stage actor Stephen Rea (The Crying Game, Michael Collins, Interview with the Vampire).

 

Black 47 will join films by Wes Anderson and Gus Van Sant at this years festival and now follows major Irish films such as Jim Sheridan’sThe Boxer, Neil Jordan’s The Butcher Boy and John Michael McDonagh’s The Guard to have premiered at the festival.

 

Speaking about the selection, Macdara Kelleher, MD of Fastnet Films and lead producer of the film said “It’s an honour to be premieringBlack 47 at one of the world’s most prestigious festivals, alongside truly great filmmakers.  There’s a strong history of major films launching in Berlin and we can’t wait for the world to see this epic Irish famine story”.

 

Black 47 sees Weaving and Broadbent joined by other international talent including James Frecheville who starred in the critically acclaimed Animal Kingdom and The Drop with Tom Hardy and Freddie Fox who was recently seen in Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.

 

The film also has a strong young Irish cast including Barry Keoghan (Dunkirk, The Killing of a Sacred Deer), Moe Dunford (Vikings,Patrick’s Day) and Sarah Greene (Noble, Penny Dreadful).

 

It’s 1847 and Ireland is in the grip of the Great Famine that has ravaged the country for two long years. Feeney, a hardened Irish Ranger who has been fighting for the British Army abroad, abandons his post to return home and reunite with his estranged family.

 

He’s seen more than his share of horrors, but nothing prepares him for the famine’s hopeless destruction of his homeland that has brutalised his people and where there seems to be no law and order. He discovers his mother starved to death and his brother hanged by the brutal hand of the English. With little else to live for, he sets a destructive path to avenge his family. Hannah, an ageing British soldier and famed tracker of deserters, is sent to stop Feeney before he can further stoke the fires of revolution.

 

But Hannah and Feeney are old army comrades, forged by their time fighting together. Personal bonds and shifting allegiances cause both men to question their motives, as they are tested to the limit by the hellish landscape of ‘The Great Hunger’.

 

Black 47 is directed by Lance Daly, one of Ireland’s most acclaimed directors, whose previous films include Life’s a Breeze which premiered at Toronto Film Festival. His breakout feature Kisses was named the Best Feature Film at the Galway Film Fleadh, Foyle and Miami film festivals, was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award and the Golden Leopard at Locarno.  It became the highest grossing Irish film of the year and Lance picked up Best Director at the IFTA’s. Lance was winner of the Galway Film Fleadh’s Bingham Ray New Talent Award (2013).

 

The screenplay is written by PJ Dillon (Rewind), Pierce Ryan (Standby), Eugene O’Brien (Eden) and Lance Daly (Life’s a Breeze, Kisses).

 

Black 47 was produced by Macdara Kelleher whose credits include Strangerland starring Nicole Kidman, Lance Daly’s KissesWhat Ifstarring Daniel Radcliffe, Urszula Antoniak’s Nothing Personal, and Rebecca Daly’s The Other Side of Sleep. Kelleher recently producedThe Professor and the Madman with Mel Gibson and Sean Penn. He is co-founder of Dublin-based Fastnet Films with Lance Daly and Morgan Bushe.

 

The film was also produced by Tim O’Hair, Arcadiy Golubovich and Jonathan Loughran with financing from Primemeridian Entertainment, the Irish Film Board, the Luxembourg Film Fund, Wildcard Distribution, Altitude, BAI, TV3, Eurimages, Umedia, Samsa Films and Fastnet Films.

 

Black 47 will be brought to Irish cinemas by Wildcard Distribution later this year.

 

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Interview: Kelly Thornton, star of ‘Life’s a Breeze’

kthornton358-f

 

Kelly Thornton chats to Film Ireland about her debut acting role in Life’s a Breeze.

Life’s a Breeze features an impressive cast including the likes of Patt Shortt, Brian Gleeson, Eva Birthistle and Fionnula Flanagan. But it’s debutante Kelly Thornton who steals the show in Lance Daly’s feel-good “recession comedy” about a family struggling to stay afloat and stay together through hard times in Ireland. Kelly plays Emma, the niece of unemployed slacker Colm (Shortt), who along with his aging mother Nan (Flanagan) must overcome their many differences to lead their family in a race against time to find a lost fortune.

Kelly’s performance has already garnered recognition, picking up the Bingham Ray New Talent award at the Galway Film Fleadh.

As well as being her first feature, it was also her first experience of acting. Her entry into the world of film makes for a great story of discovery. As she explains herself: “Someone just came up to me on Grafton Street and asked me if I’d audition for a movie. It was a casting scout. It was unreal. So I left my details with her and they gave my mam a ring and and I went to 2 auditions, which were open auditions. They called me back a third time and told me I had it!”

Only 14 at the time, Kelly’s first experience of a film set was on Halloween night 2011 as Lance wanted to get footage of the bonfires and Halloween activities for the film with the shoot concluding in August 2012. For a couple of months it was Monday to Friday for Kelly, who was in third year at the time. How did that effect her school? “I had a tutor when I was on set so I didn’t do too bad in my Junior Cert!”

Kelly says she learnt so much from working on the film in particular the little things like “taking a breath before saying your lines, and not always having your mouth closed when I’m not speaking on camera –  just things that make it look more real on the screen.” In particular director Lance Daly was a great help during the shoot. “We did some rehearsals and Lance  would always let me know the little things I needed to know. Obviously I had no experience so he taught me a lot of things. He was always letting me know what’s going on and how things should be and what we were trying to get across in the scenes.”

After the work and thrill of making a film was over, the  run-up to the film’s release proved to be just as exciting for Kelly as “all my friends kept telling me ‘I saw you on the side of a bus’ and seeing the trailer online was great fun.” Now that the film is in the cinemas her friends can tell her ‘I saw you on the big screen.’

And judging from her performance, we’ll be seeing alot of more of Kelly Thornton on the big screen in the future.

 

Life’s a Breeze is in cinemas now

Click here for a Film Ireland interview with Macdara Kelleher, producer of Life’s a Breeze

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Irish Film at the Galway Film Fleadh preview: Life’s a Breeze

lifes a breeze

The 25th Galway Film Fleadh (9 – 14 July, 2013)

Life’s A Breeze

Friday, 12th July

Town Hall Theatre

21.00

Life’s a Breeze, the new “recession comedy” from director Lance Daly (Kisses) will see its world premiere at the Galway Film Fleadh this Friday. The film, which also opens in cinemas 19th July, is an Irish-Swedish co-production between Fastnet Films and Anagram Productions and stars Pat Shortt (The Guard, Garage) and Fionnula Flanagan (The Guard, The Others).

Life’s a Breeze is a feelgood comedy about the hard times of a recession hit Irish family. When slacker Colm (Pat Shortt), surprises his aging mother (Fionnula Flanagan) with a home makeover, little does he know an old mattress containing a small family fortune was amongst the thrown out furniture. Together with niece Emma (newcomer Kelly Thornton) and half the country, the family must put aside their differences in a search for the lost fortune.

Following the success of his award winning feature, Kisses, Lance Daly delivers a life-affirming film with a noble aim – to be a feel-good comedy that actually delivers on its promise.

Life’s a Breeze opens in cinemas 19th July, and tickets for its world premiere at the Galway Film Fleadh are available to book from the Town Hall Theatre on 091 569777, or at www.tht.ie.

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The Factory Announce Programme for Screen Acting 2012-2013

The Factory is pleased to announce the first ever solely dedicated year long programme in Screen Acting at The Factory beginning this September.

 

APPLICATIONS NOW OPEN FOR SEPTEMBER 2012!

 

This full-time Screen Acting Programme runs from the 24th of September 2012 to the 14th of May 2013.

 

Since its establishment in 2009 by John Carney, Lance Daly and Kirsten Sheridan, the Factory has provided training, development, studio space, post production facilities and networking opportunities for actors, directors and producers. The Factory Actors Studio is run in collaboration with leading casting director Maureen Hughes with contributions from a wide range of film industry professionals. The Factory has partnered with Screen Training Ireland and been supported by the Irish Film Board.

 

A fee of €4,950 applies with a limited number of scholarship places available.

No previous experience is required.

 

Early application deadline:        8th June 2012, Fee €30

Late application deadline:         22nd June 2012, Fee €50

 

All applicants will be reviewed and feedback given from The Factory Panel. Shortlisted applicants will be auditioned for #TheProgramme in July & August. Offers will be made on Friday the 31 August 2012.

 

To apply please send Cover Letter, CV and Headshot and Application Fee to:

The Programme,

The Factory,

35a Barrow Street,

Grand Canal Dock,

Dublin4.

Hard copies only accepted.

For further details please contact us at theprogramme@thefactory.ie, visit www.thefactory.ie or call Muireann or Claire on 01 4432319.

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