Book Review: The Films of Lenny Abrahamson

Stephen Porzio checks out Barry Monaghan’s comprehensive study of the films of contemporary, highly critically-appraised Irish director Lenny Abrahamson.

Barry Monaghan’s new book The Films of Lenny Abrahamson is the definitive exploration of perhaps Ireland’s finest director.

Analysing the filmmaker’s career from early shorts Mendel and 3 Joes all the way to Oscar-nominee Room, the scholarly essay-style work explores how Abrahamson managed to transcend the barriers of Irish and art-house cinema, garnering worldwide acclaim and profits. It then wraps up with a transcript of a conversation between Monaghan and the director.

The book’s biggest strength is its argument for Abrahamson as a true auteur figure. While the filmmaker has fluctuated between countries and genre, telling wildly different stories, Monaghan keenly points out recurring elements in his work.

He posits that Abrahamson’s breakout success could be down to the fact that many of our nation’s dramas which preceded him were explicitly dealing with lrish-specific stories. This made them less accessible worldwide, lowering their chance of big box-office returns. Monaghan argues that Abrahamson is more successful because his exploration of contemporary Irish issues is kept often as subtext, making them fiercely relevant here but capable of being understood abroad.

Adam and Paul and Garage are both dramas about how, during the Celtic Tiger, certain pockets of Irish life were left behind. However, lacking overt references to the boom, the former could equally be perceived as a warped fairytale and the latter a sad portrait of rural loneliness that could resonate with anyone. Similarly, What Richard Did is a drama examining notions of privilege set in Dublin’s southside rooted in true events. Yet, in making only implicit references to its social backdrop, its story still works outside of said context.

This also extends to his work outside Ireland. Frank serves as a demystification of the artistic process but doubles as a whacky comedy. Room is a film somewhat based on the infamous Fritzl case but told from the perspective of a child, making it also a coming-of-age story. By avoiding heavy references to true life, Abrahamson’s movies avoid polemical debate, instead favouring to immerse audiences in their characters’ worlds.

Monaghan also highlights how Abrahamson’s films all feature in someway or another a Beckettian exploration of the failures of language. They also each eschew traditional narratives, in favour of building characters – all of whom never fit generic archetypes.

The book is not geared for casual reading, feeling very academic. Thus, it is stuffed with references to other scholars. Occasionally, these can overwhelm the conversion about Abrahamson’s oeuvre. This is notable in the section on Frank. One wonders whether references to Jacques Lacan’s philosophy in discussing the Frank Sidebottom mask or harking back to the work of George Melies when exploring Domhnall Gleeson’s unreliable narrator are necessary. This is also heightened by the fact that the book excludes talk of Abrahamson’s notoriously hard to track down four-part series Prosperity (RTE please release that on DVD!), something fans of the director would rather be reading.

There is also a feeling it may have been too early to release a book about the filmmaker. This was written before the release of The Little Stranger, the director’s most interesting movie to date – an unsettling horror film which fits with all of Monaghan’s points about Abrahamson’s work but also failed to wield big profits. Meanwhile, with him set to adapt Sally Rooney’s novel Normal People for BBC, there is a sense Abrahamson has more fascinating work ahead of him.

Still, in terms of work to date, this is essential reading for die hard fans of Irish cinema, as well as those in a film theory course prepping an essay on any of Abrahamson’s movies.

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On the Red Carpet Podcast: The Little Stranger

Lenny Abrahamson’s new film The Little Stranger tells the story of Dr. Faraday (Domhnall Gleeson), the son of a housemaid, who has built a life of quiet respectability as a country doctor. During the long hot summer of 1948, he is called to a patient at Hundreds Hall, where his mother once worked. The Hall has been home to the Ayres family for more than two centuries. But it is now in decline and its inhabitants – Mrs. Ayres (Charlotte Rampling), Roderick Ayres (Will Poulter) and Caroline Ayres (Ruth Wilson) – are haunted by something more ominous than a dying way of life. When he takes on his new patient, Faraday has no idea how closely, and how disturbingly, the family’s story is about to become entwined with his own.

Gemma Creagh was at the European premiere at the Light House cinema in Dublin and talked to Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter, Lenny Abrahamson and Ruth Wilson.

 

 

 

The Little Stranger is currently in cinemas

 

 

Irish Film Review: The Little Stranger

 

Film Ireland Podcasts

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Irish Film Review: The Little Stranger

DIR: Lenny Abrahamson • WRI: Lucinda Coxon • DOP: Ole Bratt Birkeland • ED: Nathan Nugent • MUS: Stephen Rennicks • DES: Simon Elliott • PRO: Andrea Calderwood, Gail Egan, Ed Guiney • CAST: Domhnall Gleeson, Ruth Wilson, Will Poulter, Charlotte Rampling

It’s always fascinating when filmmakers who made their name in drama try their hand at a genre movie. This is for two reasons. The output tends to skew from the standards of that genre and in those differences one can see clearly the motifs and themes the director is interested in exploring. Such is the case with Lenny Abrahamson’s new horror The Little Stranger.

Set in 1948 England, Domhnall Gleeson stars as Faraday, a doctor from humble beginnings who returns to the luxurious estate where his mother once worked as a maid. Adoring the building as a boy, he is shocked to see it falling into disrepair – damaged by the fall of the British Gentry post-WWII due to heavy taxation. 

Faraday is called to the estate by the owner Angela Ayres (Charlotte Rampling) because a young maid (Liv Hill) is frightened of being left alone in the large, empty house. While there, he begins to treat Angela’s son Roddy (Will Poulter), a PTSD stricken war veteran whose wounds have healed poorly. In doing so, Faraday forms a close bond with Roddy’s sister Caroline (Ruth Wilson). However, spooky goings-on in the house begin to terrorise those living there.

Adapted from an acclaimed novel by Sarah Waters – whose Fingersmith became last year’s The Handmaiden – it sounds in plot like the stage is set for a classic gothic ghost story. However, while the trailers may be selling the movie as such, Abrahamson has other things on his mind.

The Little Stranger is a trojan horse of a film. It lures viewers in with one thing, but delivers something different, if substantially more interesting. While there are brief and well-executed moments of ghostly threat, this is foremost a psychological thriller about class and obsession.

It’s nearly forty minutes before anything supernatural happens. Instead, Abrahamson – working from Lucinda Coxon’s script – takes the time to establish Faraday’s childhood infatuation with the house. We see these gorgeously shot vivid flashbacks to his youth at the estate, juxtaposed with darker, gloomier shots of the withering estate. 

In this period of the film, we see the working-class Faraday trying to secure what he has always secretly wanted – these nobles’ approval. However, even when he does become a friend of the family – being invited to dinner parties and soirees – there is this palpable sense of an invisible divide between him and the Ayres. Their acquaintances constantly reference his position as family doctor or treat him as a butler. Abrahamson builds remarkable tension during these scenes, often emphasising the uncomfortableness of the situations through close-ups on Faraday as he struggles to maintain respectability out of anger.

The film could be divisive as any supernatural activity which does occur feels almost like background. The titular little stranger is more of a personification of all the external pressures the Ayres face in terms of keeping the house. What’s truly disturbing, however, is Faraday’s slowly growing obsession with the estate, at some points even going as far as to put the family in danger so that he can live there. Whether these two plot-lines align satisfyingly will be up to each individual’s own interpretation. However, Abrahamson does muster a moody menace throughout the entire film, jumping further into the darkness that often pervades his central characters in movies such as Frank, Garage or Room. 

Gleeson’s performance is incredible. Although playing a very stiff-upper lip character throughout, he imbues Faraday with a charm in the first part of the film – partly deriving from his wide eyes and slight smile when recounting his time in the house as a boy. As the movie continues, however, these qualities fall away. Viewers are left questioning themselves for their previous affection for Faraday as he becomes increasingly driven to protect the estate above all else.

In many ways, The Little Stranger serves as a companion piece to Phantom Thread – another psychological character study which wasn’t quite what was sold to audiences, has horror elements, is set nearly in the same time and place and has similar themes. One hopes The Little Stranger finds the audience that film did. 

Stephen Porzio

111 minutes
15A (see IFCO for details)
The Little Stranger is released 21st September 2018
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Lenny Abrahamson to Direct Adaptation of Sally Rooney’s ‘Normal People’

BBC announces Lenny Abrahamson and Element Pictures to adapt Sally Rooney’s Booker nominated Normal People.

Sally Rooney is set to adapt the novel herself for BBC3 directed by Lenny Abrahamson and produced by Element Pictures . The book has recently been long listed for the 2018 Booker Prize.

Normal People is an exquisite, modern love story about how one person can unexpectedly change another person’s life and about how complicated intimacy can be. Over several years, we follow Marianne and Connell – both from a small west of Ireland town, but from very different backgrounds – as they embark on an on-off romance that starts at school and continues through college, as they test their relationship, experiment with other partners and explore different versions of themselves.

The book is full of all the awkwardness, humour and confusion that accompanies love and sex and offers the opportunity to make a television show about being young that is frank, smart and intoxicating.

Sally Rooney, says: “I feel very privileged to be working with such an extraordinary team on the adaptation of “Normal People.” I’m looking forward to the challenge of working in a new form, and of thinking about these characters and their lives in new ways.”

Normal People will be directed by Irish film director Lenny Abrahamson who said: “Sally is a writer of the highest calibre and in ‘Normal People’ she captures the ebb and flow of intimacy and desire with extraordinary skill. I’m proud to be part of bringing her work to the screen audience it deserves.”

Ed Guiney of Element Pictures, says “Sally’s novel is a beautifully written, utterly beguiling exploration of an incredibly intense love story, the subtlety and specificity of which is breathtaking. There is no better film maker than Lenny Abrahamson to realise its potential for the screen. We are delighted to help bring this brilliant project to life.”

Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama, says: “Sally is one of the most engaging young writers of her generation and the BBC is thrilled to be working with her on her first piece for television. Normal People is a beautifully crafted story based on a journey of love and friendship, and it has been an absolute privilege to read Sally’s forthcoming novel ahead of publication and see how she has started to adapt this coming of age story for BBC Three.”

Damian Kavanagh, Controller of BBC Three, adds: “At BBC Three we are 100% committed to providing a platform for fresh contemporary new voices like Sally Rooney. Her new novel Normal People is a wonderfully brilliant depiction of young love, friendship and the journey towards adulthood and I cannot wait to see how Sally, Lenny Ed and the team bring it to life on screen for the BBC Three audience.”

Winner of the 2017 Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award, Sally Rooney’s debut novel Conversations with Friends was the Guardian, Observer, Daily Telegraph and Evening Standard’s Book of the Year, alongside one of Vogue’s 10 Best Books of 2017. Normal People will be published by Faber & Faber in September 2018.

Normal People will be produced by Element Pictures for BBC Three.

Filming dates and casting will be announced in due course.

 

 

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Lenny Abrahamson’s ‘The Little Stranger’ in Cinemas 21st September

Lenny Abrahamson’s The Little Stranger, based on Sarah Waters’ best-selling novel, will be released in Irish cinemas on 21st September 2018.

Dr. Faraday, the son of a housemaid, has built a life of quiet respectability as a country doctor. During the long hot summer of 1947, he is called to a patient at Hundreds Hall, where his mother once worked. The Hall has been home to the Ayres family for more than two centuries and is now in decline.  But Mrs Ayres, and her two grown children, Caroline  and Roddy, are haunted by something more ominous than a dying way of life.  When he takes on his new patient, Faraday has no idea how closely, and how terrifyingly, the family’s story is about to become entwined with his own.

The film stars Domhnall Gleeson as Dr Faraday; Golden Globe winner Ruth Wilson  as Caroline Ayres; BAFTA winner Will Poulter as Roderick Ayres; and Oscar nominee Charlotte Rampling as Mrs Ayres.

The Little Stranger is produced by Gail Egan, Andrea Calderwood  and Ed Guiney; and executive produced by Cameron McCracken for Pathé, Daniel Battsek for Film4, Andrew Lowe for Element Pictures, Celine Haddad for the Irish Film Board and Tim O’Shea for Ingenious.

Director of Photography is Ole Birkeland, with Costumes by Steven Noble and Hair and Make-Up by Sian Grigg . Simon Elliott  is Production Designer; Nathan Nugent  Editor; and the Music is by Stephen Rennicks.

The Little Stranger is a Pathé, Film4, Irish Film Board and Ingenious presentation of a Potboiler Production in association with Element Films. The film was developed by Film4 with Potboiler and Element Films.

Pathé will distribute the film in the UK, France and Switzerland; and Focus Features acquired the film from Pathe International for distribution throughout the rest of the world.

 

 

http://filmireland.net/2018/05/01/irish-films-to-look-out-for-in-2018/

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Trailer: The Little Stranger’

 

Feast your eyes on the first trailer for Lenny Abrahamson’s latest feature, The Little Stranger, set for release later this year.

 

The drama, which is adapted for the screen by Lucinda Coxon (The Danish Girl), features Domhnall Gleeson, Ruth Wilson, Will Poulter, and Charlotte Rampling among its cast.The Little Stranger is produced by Element’s Ed Guiney and Exec produced by Andrew Lowe.

 

Gleeson plays Dr Faraday, the son of a housemaid, who has built a life of quiet respectability as a country doctor. During the long hot summer of 1948, he is called to a patient at Hundreds Hall, where his mother once worked.  The Hall has been home to the Ayres family for more than two centuries.  But it is now in decline and its inhabitants – mother, son and daughter – are haunted by something more ominous than a dying way of life.  When he takes on his new patient, Faraday has no idea how closely, and how disturbingly, the family’s story is about to become entwined with his own.

 
 

 

 

http://filmireland.net/2018/05/01/irish-films-to-look-out-for-in-2018/

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The 6th Irish Film Festival London Announces An Audience with Lenny Abrahamson

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The Irish Film Festival London  present an audience with Festival Patron Lenny Abrahamson, the Academy Award nominated director of RoomAdam & PaulGarageWhat Richard Did, and Frank, at the Regent Street Cinema at 9pm on November 25th.

 

Lenny Abrahamson was born in Dublin in 1966. He studied physics and philosophy at Trinity College Dublin and then changed paths to pursue his passion for Film. After a successful few years working on short films and commercials in Ireland and abroad, he completed his first feature film ‘Adam & Paul’.

 

His second feature, Garage, was selected for Director’s Fortnight at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival. This was followed by What Richard Did, which screened at Toronto, London BFI and Tribeca. His fourth feature, Frank, starring Michael Fassbender and Domhnall Gleeson, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. The director’s latest film, Room, was released in 2015 and received more than one hundred awards and nominations, including four Academy Awards nominations for Best Film Best Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Achievement in directing, with Brie Larson going on to win the Oscar for Best Actress.

 

Lenny will discuss his career highlights, the challenges he has faced and his inspirations, and will be on hand to answer questions from the audience. Tickets are £15 and are available from www.regentstreetcinema.com

 

Speaking about the eventFestival Director Kelly O’Connor said: “This will be a great opportunity for film fans to hear first-hand about Lenny’s rise to Oscars success. It will be a special treat, as Lenny is one of those rare filmmakers who has remained true to his roots, despite his global recognition.”

 

In addition to the discussion, Lenny will host a workshop with the Film and Screenwriting MA students at the London Film School. Interested parties can contact the LFS directly at: v.fricke@lfs.org.uk

 

Returning to the capital’s cinemas this November for the 6th year, the Irish Film Festival London (IFFL) will bring an exciting line-up of the very best in contemporary Irish cinema to London audiences. The five-day festival, which counts Director Lenny Abrahamson and Casting Director Ros Hubbard (Lord of the RingsThe Bourne Ultimatum) among its patrons, brings together industry professionals, film fans and fans of Irish Arts & Culture alike. Focusing on Irish productions, scripts and casts, it provides a significant platform for Irish Film in London, and ensures that the best of Irish creative talent is promoted here in the UK.  Irish films and filmmakers also have the opportunity to walk away with one of our coveted festival awards. The festival gets support from the Emigrant’s Support Programme, Irish Film Board, the IFI, Film London and Culture Ireland. Irish Film London also runs events throughout the year, including the film section of the St. Patrick’s Day Festival with the GLA, children’s cinema programmes, networking and film industry talks/ workshops.

 

The Irish Film Festival London runs from 23rd to 27th November 2016.

See www.irishfilmlondon.com for more details.

 

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Lenny Abrahamson Joins Irish Film London as Patron

 

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The Irish Film Festival London has announced Lenny Abrahamson as their new Patron.

Lenny Abrahamson said: “I am a big fan of the festival and the opportunities they’re providing for Irish filmmakers in the UK. They are bringing the best of contemporary Irish film to audiences in London and I’m proud to be a part of what they’re accomplishing.”

Festival Director Kelly O’Connor said, “We couldn’t be happier for Lenny as he receives this well deserved international appreciation.

“We love Lenny’s work and have had the privilege of screening all of his films over the years. After our preview screening of Room at our most recent festival last November, he enchanted our audience with a live full screen Skype Q&A at the Rio Cinema in Dalston.

“He has always been very supportive of us and we are thrilled to welcome him on board as a Patron”.

Abrahamson joins London-based casting director Ros Hubbard who is also a Patron of the festival.

Irish Film London is now entering its 6th year

 

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Lenny Abrahamson to be Honoured at Oscar Wilde Awards

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Lenny Abrahamson will be honoured at the Oscar Wilde Awards on 25th February. The US-Ireland Alliance event is held at J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot production company in Santa Monica. Also being honored are Irish actress Sarah Green, Snow Patrol, James Corden and Daisy Ridley, the star of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Abrams will emcee. Snow Patrol and Irish singer Roísín O  will perform.

Trina Vargo, founder of the US-Ireland Alliance said, “while Abrahamson was known in Ireland and certain film circles, it is great to see him get this deserved recognition on an international stage. We look forward to celebrating his success.”

 

Listen to InConversation with Lenny Abrahamson here

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Another Look at ‘Room’

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James Phelan takes another look inside Lenny Abrahamson’s Room.

 

Who faces the biggest challenge in Room? The audience or Lenny Abrahamson and his creative team? The prospect of depicting such an intrinsically horrifying situation and making it palpable to any audience was a massive ask of all concerned. The covert imprisonment of a mother and child in a cramped suburban shed seems like the uneasy intersection of much too real real-life horrors and the tasteless end of exploitation cinema.

Thankfully, through a combination of inspired casting, sensitive direction and masterful writing, the end result is a powerful testament to the endurance of the human spirit. Without crucially ever being an endurance test for the audience.

In fairness, when faced with the constraints of depicting life within a small unadorned space, every department nearly to be firing to maintain both the overall conceit and viewer interest. And this supreme collective effort is expertly marshalled by the singular vision of Lenny. He is studiously unshowy within the creative restriction the ‘Room’ imposes but his steadiness and confidence seeps into the texture of the film. The bravery to hold a shot. To eschew swift edits and any sense of sensationalism.  Here is a film that breathes and where we care about every breath the two principals take. There is no Fincher-esque drifting through air ducts or following cables through walls. This world is a solid, relentless island of isolation. Yet there are deep reservoirs of defiance, heart and even humour on this island too.

Room never shies away from being claustrophobic but neither does it shy away from warmth and humanity. The palpable love and resilience emanating from within Brie Larson’s character (initially known as Ma) is a wondrous beacon for the audience and for her child Jack. Brie’s performance is a beautifully calibrated feat. We glimpse her fragility. Her profound uncertainty. Her underlying growing dread. We literally see her swallow or swat away momentarily flickers of fear to protect her child from even their startlingly obvious and overwhelming proximity to real evil. The scope, complexity and nuance of this role is an acting Everest that Larson scales with both incredible effort and incredible ease.

Clearly guided by the overall warmth of Emma Donoghue’s initial prose and her own skilful adaptation of her novel, Room is actually at its best in the period of confinement. In less capable hands, Jack’s rituals of addressing inanimate objects might have been too cutesy but we witness all these routines as vital structures for survival. Ma’s imaginative use of the space for exercise, education and entertainment is that of a mother determined to fight stagnation and apathy at any cost. Her impassioned promises to Jack of a world outside the room are imbued with increased rising urgency as an escape plan is hatched to fool their captor known only as Old Nick.

I better flag some major spoilers from here on. I was shamefully unfamiliar with the novel and so didn’t know if the escape gamble would be successful. It certainly fed the tension of a sequence that is both uplifting and nerve shredding. However implausible the plan, it literally unfurls in a manner that will have audiences having heart palpitations. Jack’s first foray into the wider world is so unbearably fraught while still laced with a wondrous sense of liberation. Small details within this sequence are casually haunting. Personally, I found the lack of fight in Old Nick’s character when challenged to be both truthful and chilling. His willingness to walk away revealed so much in even his cowardly retreat.

Which brings us to the second half of the film where we witness Ma reclaiming her original name Joy while struggling to explain this new overwhelming reality to Jack. The initial sense of wonderment in the outside world is again filled with sublime specific moments. The depiction of the media interest in their plight seems a logical organic progression of the story but it moved the film into familiar ground. To be honest, this part of the film couldn’t help but naturally lack the focus of the first half. And oddly, I wasn’t the only one missing the ‘Room’. The script and film dares to circle round to the almost unimaginable truth that humans sometimes crave for a life they know above the unfamiliar and alien.

It’s also in the latter half that the casting became slightly problematic for me. Hands down, Joan Allen and William H Macy are superb actors and I’m always pleased to see them show up in anything. Apart from here. It’s weird but they feel too starry for the film. The second you see Joan Allen walk down a hospital corridor, the connotations of Bourne can’t help but kick in. It was no surprise to hear Lenny speak of Allen as one of his favourite actors and he has every right to work with her. Yet in a film where not recognising the cast was so pivotal to creating an imposing compelling reality, the spell was broken for me.

That idiosyncratic gripe aside, Room is a powerful raw rumination on the nature of family. It’s naturally not flawless but it is honest, unflinchingly and hopeful. I’d advise that you make some room in your life for Room .

And frankly, I found it funnier than Frank.

 

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Irish Film Review: Room

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DIR: Lenny Abrahamson • WRI: Emma Donoghue • PRO: David Gross, Ed Guiney • DOP: Danny Cohen • ED: Nathan Nugent • DES: Ethan Tobman • MUS: Stephen Rennicks • CAST: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Sean Bridgers

 

Four walls, of what can be no bigger than a small garden shed, have never felt so vast. But this is the limitless scope of Jack’s 5 year old imagination. For Jack, ‘Room’ is the world. Looking up through a skylight, outside is sky, and space, and aliens. Jack and Ma try shouting at the aliens, but they don’t hear them today. Room’s borders are everything. Room… Room… Room. This is all Jack knows, having no concept that a world outside exists. There are cats and dogs and people on TV, but they’re not real. At least that’s what Ma says. But now Ma says she lied.

Ma’s protected Jack from the truth. She’s kept him strong psychologically, built him emotionally from the ground up, carefully preparing him for his eventual escape. Inside Room, Ma has created a rich and spacious world for her child’s imagination, free from the literal reality. The literal reality is that Jack and Ma are caged up like wild animals, in a meagerly furnished Zoo pen. Ma was captured by mean old Nick, and hasn’t left Room in 7 years. But in the inhumanity of this situation, director Lenny Abrahamson finds a breeding ground for warmth, love and affection. There’s no artifice to the story’s structure, which is propelled along by an intoxicating earnestness. At the narrative’s core is this maternal bond between a mother and child.

Emma Donoghue adapted the script from her Man Booker-nominated novel of the same name. Donoghue is anything but a one trick pony, and shows masterful dexterity as a writer, as she jumps ship from novel to screenplay. She’s dived head first into the material, and fearlessly pares her novel down to its core. The most profound difference is that the movie works on its own terms. It makes no attempt to imitate the novel, or try to suggest Jack’s magical thinking with ham-handed visual trickery. According to Abrahamson, the movie’s all about Jack’s face, and the film is grounded with a rich cinematic naturalism. His face is our key to a rich inner world. This more naturalistic quality towards the visual approach of the film was something Abrahamson knew from the get-go; and a point he even used to woo author Emma Donoghue in his initial pitch.

Over and over, Irish director Lenny Abrahamson has proved himself a talent to watch. He’s made a successful career with intimate, character-driven dramas (Adam & Paul, What Richard Did). So in one sense Room is similar territory; in another sense Room elevates the intimate character drama to a more epic scale, while never losing sight of its simple humanity. It’s a fine line, and Abrahamson walks it expertly. This is a director in his absolute element, and at the peak of his powers.

Since winning the audience award at the Toronto film festival, Room has unsurprisingly generated healthy awards buzz. And this is hardly surprising, since Room offers the highest calibre of craftsmanship in virtually every department; though the performances take centre stage. Brie Larson deserves every accolade on the table and it still wouldn’t be enough; she endlessly radiates compassion and affection, making everyone in the audience with anything of a soul, wish she was their Ma. And Jacob Tremblay’s performance glows with the simple honesty that surely paves the way for a powerful acting talent. The story is further reinforced by Danny Cohen’s masterfully unimposing cinematography and Stephen Rennicks’ earthy score, which is at times both ethereal and euphoric.

In Room, Abrahamson has created a masterful oddity; a world that’s spatially confined, but emotionally limitless and arresting. Abrahamson works within the scope of narrative and cinematic limits, and yet somehow in the end, exceeds those limits tenfold. Room is one of those unique films, that by way of what must be magic or osmosis, excels beyond the sum of its parts. It’s the kind of estranged logic that lets two plus two equal five, when it should only equal four.

Michael Lee

15A
117 minutes (See IFCO for details)

Room is released 15th January 2016

Room – Official Website

 

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Trailer: Lenny Abrahamson’s ‘Room’

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The trailer for Room is available to watch online. From acclaimed director Lenny Abrahamson and based on the best-selling novel by Emma Donoghue, Room stars Brie Larson and a breakout performance from Jacob Tremblay, with three-time Academy Award® nominee Joan Allen.

Room is released in Irish cinemas on 15th January 2016.

 

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‘Room’ Wins People’s Choice Award at Toronto

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Lenny Abrahamson’s latest film Room won the People’s Choice Award at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Abrahamson said, ‘I am so honoured that Room has been chosen by the TIFF audience to win the Grolsch People’s choice award. The program this year was full of extraordinary films, and for such a knowledgeable, film-loving audience to choose ours as their film of the festival is something of which I will always be hugely proud. It is a testament to the incredible talent and passion of all who made this film; cast and crew and those who backed us and had faith in us from the beginning.”

Room stars Brie Larson (Short Term 12, The Spectacular Now), Jacob Tremblay (The Smurfs 2, Somnia), Joan Allen (The Bourne Supremacy, Nixon) and William H. Macy (Shameless, Magnolia). Emma Donoghue adapted the screenplay from her book, the award-winning international phenomenon,  .

Told through the eyes of five-year-old-Jack (Tremblay), Room is a thrilling and emotional tale that celebrates the resilience and power of the human spirit. To Jack, Room is the world…. It’s where he was born, it’s where he and his Ma (Larson) eat and sleep and play and learn. But while it’s home to Jack, to Ma it’s a prison.  Through her fierce love for her son, Ma has managed to create a childhood for him in their ten-by-ten-foot space. But as Jack’s curiosity is building alongside Ma’s own desperation – she knows that Room cannot contain either indefinitely.

 

Room will be released in Irish cinemas on 29th January

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Trailer: The Room

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The first trailer for The Room, directed by Lenny Abrahamson has been released online.  The film is based on the novel by Emma Donoghue, who also wrote the screenplay.

The Room stars Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Joan Allenand and William H Macy and tells the story of a young boy growing up with his mother in a shed which he believes is the whole world, while she hides from him the fact that they are captives.

 

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Shooting Begins on Lenny Abrahamson’s ‘Room’

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Lenny Abrahamson has begun principal photography on the feature film Room, produced by Element Pictures and No Trace Camping. Emma Donoghue adapted the screenplay from her book, the award-winning international phenomenon, Room.

The film stars Brie Larson (Short Term 12, The Spectacular Now), Jacob Tremblay (The Smurfs 2, Somnia), Joan Allen (The Bourne Supremacy, Nixon) and William H. Macy (Shameless, Magnolia). Also joining the cast are Sean Bridgers (Rectify), Tom McCamus (The Samaritan) and Megan Park (What If).

Told through the eyes of five-year-old-Jack (Tremblay), Room is a thrilling and emotional tale that celebrates the resilience and power of the human spirit. To Jack, Room is the world…. It’s where he was born, it’s where he and his Ma (Larson) eat and sleep and play and learn. But while it’s home to Jack, to Ma it’s a prison. Through her fierce love for her son, Ma has managed to create a childhood for him in their ten-by-ten-foot space. But as Jack’s curiosity is building alongside Ma’s own desperation – she knows that Room cannot contain either indefinitely.

Room is being filmed at Pinewood Studios and on location in Toronto, and will be post produced at Screen Scene in Dublin.

Room is an Element Pictures and No Trace Camping production, in association with Telefilm Canada, Film4, and the Irish Film Board. A24 has acquired rights to the film in the US, and Elevation Pictures is distributing the film in Canada. UTA handled the domestic sale. FilmNation Entertainment is handling international sales.

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InConversation with Lenny Abrahamson

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Photo: Peter Rowen Len

This episode of InConversation features Lenny Abrahamson. His first feature Adam & Paul (2004) was launched at the Berlin International Film Festival, Telluride and Galway among many prestigious film festivals. Garage (2007) was awarded the CICAE Award upon its presentation at Cannes Directors’ Fortnight. The film also won awards for Best Film, Best Director, Best Script and Best Actor at the 2008 Irish Film and Television Awards. In the same year Abrahamson also directed Prosperity, four one-hour TV films for RTÉ.

What Richard Did (2012), his third feature, premiered at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival and was released to critical acclaim winning multiple awards in Ireland, best screenplay at the London Evening Standard awards, and best film at the Istanbul Film Festival.

Frank (2014) had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. Abrahamson’s next project is the adaptation of Emma Donoghue’s hit novel Room.

InConversation is an ongoing series of personal interviews with people working across the many aspects of the Irish filmmaking industry.

 

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On The Reel at the Premiere of ‘Frank’

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Lenny Abrahamson’s latest film Frank is released in cinemas today. Gemma Creagh caught up with the director at the recent European premiere of the film at the Light House cinema in Dublin to find out more about the film for On The Reel in association with Film Ireland.

Gemma also had a chat to the man behind the papier-mâché head, Michael Fassbender, and spoke to Domhnall Gleeson about his role as Jon, a wannabe musician, who joins Frank’s band and embarks on a journey of delirious creativity and pursuit of fame.

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Cinema Review: Frank

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DIR: Lenny Abrahamson • WRIPeter Straughan PRO: Ed Guiney, Stevie Lee, Andrew Lowe • DOP: James Mather • MUS: Stephen Rennicks • DES: Richard Bullock • CAST: Michael Fassbender, Domhnall Gleeson, Maggie Gyllenhaal

Many films aiming to make a statement about art in conflict with commerciality must often contend with a similar push/pull arrangement in the execution of that statement itself. After all, original or groundbreaking as it might be, if an indie flick lands at Sundance with no-one there to live-tweet it, does it make a sound? Aiming to prop itself between these two stools of art and commerce by no more than one over-large paper mache head and a bucketful of ambition is director Lenny Abrahamson’s latest outing, Frank.

 

Jon (Domhnall Gleeson) is a serial-tweeting office drone plagued by dreams of international stardom but rather lacking in the creative drive to see them realized. Enter the Soronprfbs, an eclectic musical outfit whose disdain for vowels is matched only by the eccentricity of frontman Frank (Fassbender), who lives his life enclosed in a huge, cartoonish prop head. Brought into the fold when the band find suddenly find themselves short a keyboardist, Jon sees his chance for stardom and resolves to take it – along the way contending with the bile of acerbic bandmate Clara  (Gyllenhal), his own tragic lack of inspiration and fundamental doubts as to whether he’s crossed paths with a musical messiah or a plain old madman.

 

Frank quickly found an eager audience during its debut at Sundance, and it’s no real surprise why. Charming, funny and bright – starkly so in contrast to Abrahamson’s earlier work – the film delivers consistent belly-laughs while still managing to hit quieter, sombre notes about a genuinely troubled masked man to whom the microphone may as well be an umbilical cord. By turns hilarious and tragic are Jon’s fumbling attempts at inspiration relayed through banal sing-along internal monologues and a Twitter feed constantly appearing on screen but increasingly at odds with the reality of his situation.

 

Unsurprisingly, Fassbender exhibits impressive range beneath the mask, and the near-violent chemistry between Gylenhaal and Gleeson is crackling. It is likely the latter who delivers the anchoring performance of the film, slipping from wide-eyed to cut-throat as Jon slowly begins to realize that while the sparsely-populated pub gigs and mish-mash of recording techniques are a means to and end for him, for the rest of the band they act as a strange sort of therapy.

 

However, while certainly interesting as an examination of the notion of celebrity, it is difficult to escape the feeling that Frank is, strangely, Abrahamson’s most conventional effort to date. While ostensibly hiding the film’s most marketable feature behind a paper mache mask, it is likely that this very choice to take one of the world’s most sought-after faces and hide it in plain sight has drawn quite so much of the buzz that would class Frank as unique.

 

“You’re just going to have to go with this,” Jon is told by the band’s manager rather early on, but in truth there is little enough to go with that truly strays from the beaten path. A typical three act structure put together with bright, agreeable colour tones and a titular character who can’t help but be endearing, the overriding sense is of an unconventional idea packaged in its most marketable form, where “quirky” is a buzzword thrown out for poster by-lines as opposed to any real indication of divergence.

 

With subject matter wrestling with the idea of art vs commerciality, it ultimately leans towards the latter – but this is nothing to mourn. Frank is sharply-scripted, beautifully-shot and suitably suspicious of the entire vague notion of celebrity. However, while likely bound for success and justifiably so, one is simply left with the entirely unreasonable but nonetheless niggling feeling that this very message might be lost in the scramble to fit statues with tiny paper mache heads come awards season.

Ruairí Moore

15A (See IFCO for details)
94 mins

Frank is released on 9th May 2014

Frank – Official Website

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‘Frank’ Official Film Trailer

Frank

Lenny Abrahamson’s offbeat comedy Frank is set for the cinemas on the 9th of May. The film follows about a young wannabe musician, Jon (Domhnall Gleeson), who finds himself out of his depth when he joins an avant-garde pop band led by the mysterious and enigmatic Frank (Michael Fassbender), a musical genius who hides himself inside a large fake head, and his terrifying bandmate Clara (Maggie Gyllenhaal).

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‘Frank’ secures US distribution at Sundance

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Element Pictures have announced  that Magnolia Pictures have acquired North American rights to Lenny Abrahamson’s offbeat comedy Frank following intense distributor interest after its world premiere to critical acclaim at the Sundance Film Festival.

Directed by Lenny Abrahamson (What Richard DidGarageAdam & Paul), the film was written by Jon Ronson (The Men Who Stare At Goats) and Peter Straughan (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy).  Frank stars Domhnall Gleeson, Maggie Gylenhaal, Scoot McNairy and Michael Fassbender as the titular character, a brilliant and eccentric musician who wears a giant fake head at all times.

Frank was produced by Ed Guiney, David Barron and Stevie Lee, and executive producers are Tessa Ross, Katherine Butler, Andrew Lowe and Nigel Williams. FRANK is an Element Pictures/Runaway Fridge production for Film4, BFI, Protagonist Pictures and the Irish Film Board. FRANK was filmed in Ireland and the USA and utilised the tax incentive Section 481 in addition to Irish Film Board investment.

Gleeson plays Jon, a wannabe musician who finds himself out of his depth when he joins a maverick pop band led by the enigmatic Frank (Fassbender)—a musical genius who hides himself inside a large fake head—and his terrifying sidekick Clara (Gyllenhaal). It is a fictional story loosely inspired by Frank Sidebottom, the persona of cult musician and comedy legend Chris Sievey, as well as other outsider musicians like Daniel Johnston and Captain Beefheart.

Speaking from Park City Lenny Abrahamson said: “I’m delighted that Frank has found a home in the US with Magnolia. I know that the team there has a genuine passion for Frank. Along with their skill and experience this makes them the right partners to bring the film to its audience there.”

Producer Ed Guiney said “Magnolia is an incredibly innovative and exciting company and we have long wanted to work with them. They are the perfect partners for FRANK and we could not be happier that we have landed with them and we are very excited about their plans for the US.”

James Hickey, Chief Executive, Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board “We are delighted that FRANK has received such a positive international reaction after its World Premiere at Sundance. Lenny Abrahamson is one of Ireland’s leading directors and FRANK showcases a host of Irish talent including Irish actors Domhnall Gleeson and Michael Fassbender. We hope this US sale will be the first of many international  deals signed for this film.”

 

Frank will be released in Ireland in May.

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From the Archive: Lenny Abrahamson

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With the news that Lenny Abrahamson’s much anticipated Frank has been selected to screen as part of the Premiere’s section at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, we publish online Ross Whitaker’s interview with Lenny Abrahamson, which appeared in Film Ireland magazine earlier this year.

Read on to find out about Abrahamson’s evolution as a filmmaker and his latest film Frank.

 

What Richard Did, Lenny Abrahamson’s new film, fully five weeks into its theatrical run in the Screen Cinema in Dublin and was surprised to find a packed house.

It’s so rare these days to see a film run and run but word of mouth had propelled Richard forward week after week and punters were still going in their droves long after the initial release. The film had touched a nerve and there’s something about the intergenerational dilemmas of the film that confronts all members of the audience regardless of age.

Abrahamson expertly drops us into the world of Richard Karlsen – his rugby buddies, pretty girlfriend and loving family – before his perfect existence is ruptured by one out-of-character but violent act. As a viewer, I was so enthralled by the drama that I could have sat there for many more hours in this world, so the ending was like being woken from a sleep.

The reaction in the cinema was astonishing. There was a palpable tension in the room, a silence, and as the credits rolled a spat in the cinema began between an older woman sitting behind us and a group of south Dublin teenagers on the other side of the room. There were shouts and jeers.

They had seen the same film but had experienced the world they encountered from two different perspectives but rather than exit normally they felt the need to act and react. The film had pushed them to the edge and they couldn’t leave quietly.

Abrahamson does endings well. All three of his films engage the audience but also leave them with plenty to think about. It’s a powerful mix that challenges us and is an antidote to mainstream Hollywood fare. He’s not afraid to leave a few loose ends.

Now that he has made three films, it’s fascinating to look at his body of work. He has convincingly made films about very different worlds; in these worlds, he presents powerful archetypes with great sensitivity, managing to avoid the stereotypes that we encounter too often in film. I put it to him that he perhaps has a variant on the bullshit-ometer, a kind of instinctive cliché-ometer.

‘I’ve had that from the very beginning. I used to talk about off-the-shelf scenes and you see that all the time in films – you feel that you’ve seen the same scene a thousand times with a slight variation. It’s not always bad. You can use patterns very creatively and, for example, the Coen brothers often play with scene shapes and always find something interesting to do with them. I think even before I made a film it struck me how different real life is from what you see in films, how different having a real conversation is from the standard shots you see in films. It comes down to that, how you temper the dramatic with the banal and yet you owe it to the audience to try to engage their interest; to me that’s the greatest challenge.’

His films are consistently minimalist and never outstay their welcome. They have a starkness, a distinctive style and yet they manage to avoid alienating the audience.

‘I think those things can go hand in hand but it’s important not to be patronizing towards the audience, to say, “well I’d like to do something more adventurous but the audience would never understand it.” I want to communicate so I make work for myself but I also think of my work as something that is going to be watched. I think about it as an object, that is flowing, that I can shape and has a pattern and I want it to be balanced and interesting and my faith really is that they will be the same for anyone else that watches it. At the same time, it’s not like I have a massive audience compared to something like The Guard. I don’t have a magic formula but I don’t technically separate myself from the audience; I want their experience of the film to be along similar lines to my own experience. I was really surprised by the reception of What Richard Did because I thought of my three films is was the most challenging in a way and I was really quite surprised that it took off.’

While they could hardly be called blockbusters, all three of Abrahamson’s films have done well at the box office. It can be said sometimes that Irish audiences don’t want to attend Irish films, particularly more challenging work, but the success of his films gives lie to that assertion. His style is distinctive – not what most would consider commercial – and there is a consistency of approach across his work. This isn’t, he says, something that he set out to do.

‘There was no kind of plan really. One of the interesting things for me was that despite the fact that I didn’t work with Mark [O’Halloran, writer of Garage and Adam & Paul] this time, What Richard Did still felt so much like one of my films. With this film I tried to do what I always do, which was to immerse myself in a world and in a central character and take that as a starting point and then, along with the screenwriter Malcolm Campbell, let my impulses direct me.

‘I think what I bring to my work is a certain kind of non-sentimental empathy. I can find the human dimension in the central character. I had done that with characters that had been reviled or dismissed in my previous films but with Richard you had a guy who was at the opposite end of the social spectrum. What I’m interested in is how easily we like to stereotype people and caricature them, so in that sense there is a continuity to the three films. If I consistently approach characters like that then that’s the flavour that carries from film to film.’

So, does he have a system or approach that he employs with drawing his characters?

‘It’s really just through my own mulling and pondering that I feel myself getting closer to the character and then in the case of What Richard Did it was casting a character and then building the film around that person. I hadn’t done that before and we did a lot of reworking of the script from talking to the actors to try to make it feel more real.

‘What I did on What Richard Did was a little different to what I had done on previous films in that I was consciously going for something a bit more immediately real or more overtly natural. To achieve that, I wanted to immerse myself in a literal way in those characters and that’s why we cast the film so early. It was too long since I had been in that world and this film was different from the other two in that the other characters were less overtly archetypal, they were greyer characters. So we cast it early and we spent time having conversations with the characters but not improv. Having those conversations made me feel confident that we weren’t just making it up.’

All of his films feel like very complete, confident works and I wonder does he feel that he is evolving as a director?

‘I worked in different ways on What Richard Did than I had in the past. I did much more work with the actors in particular, including a little bit of improv in the film though I’m generally quite careful about improv. I think it almost never works unless it is used very carefully and usually in advance. We didn’t just say, “we’re in a room, start talking,” we knew what they were going to talk about in, for example, that scene the night after the pub. We had done it lots and lots in rehearsal and they became fluent at being in the moment but also managing it, some part of the film being outside of them, and knowing where the scene should go. It wasn’t that kind of unstructured improv that sometimes isn’t so good.’

With three strong films under his belt, Abrahamson feels that he has developed as a filmmaker.

‘I think I was much more confident in this film about throwing stuff away on the day and changing it and rewriting with actors on the day. I was confident enough to be able to say, ‘this isn’t working, let’s try it a different way,’ so being responsive but still being fast enough to stay in the schedule. Those are really practical things that you gain through experience and confidence. I’ve gotten better at working with a tight budget and a tight schedule. I’d like to not have to do it but it’s important to be able to do it.

‘I had done a lot of commercials before I did my first film but at the very beginning so much of your energy is directed internally at your own anxiety and worrying about how it will work, how you’re being perceived and whether you’re any good. Those kinds of things don’t go away at all but getting to the point where you can actually focus on what you’re doing and not the peripheral elements is a really great thing. I think as well there is an energy on set and there is a lot at stake and the pressure that comes from having limited money and many people to manage and it’s very easy for that to turn into panic and the wheels can come off very easily. If the director can be calm and confident then that just allows the energy to be directed in a constructive way.’

His next film, Frank, is a comedy set mostly in the United States about a young wannabe musician, Jon (Domhnall Gleeson), who discovers he has bitten off more than he can chew when he joins an eccentric pop band led by the mysterious and enigmatic Frank (Michael Fassbender) and also stars Maggie Gyllenhaal and Scoot McNairy. However, he explains that this doesn’t mean he is leaving his roots behind.

‘A lot of the film does happen in Ireland, so there is a connection to home but its origin and its ultimate place isn’t Irish. I’ve been involved in it for a couple of years and I’ve moved it very much towards what I want it to be. It feels like a film of mine. I’ve always had an interest in a certain kind of comedy, traditional slapstick but in a very arty form. Kaurismäki is a very big influence on me and Frank plays to that element of my style. It’s a much more expansive, much more playful film. It’s different because it’s a comedy and nobody dies at the end but it’s still a left-field, stylized film. If I had an overall plan it would be to continue making the films I’ve been making here in Ireland but also to sometimes do other things as well and some bigger projects. I want to keep making films here and I don’t want to make them too much bigger because part of the pleasure of doing films here in my own country is that I don’t have to compromise too much.’

 

This article originally appeared in Film Ireland magazine, Issue 144, Spring 2013

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National Film School Lecture Series: Lenny Abrahamson

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National Film School Lecture Series [in association with Bord Scannán na hÉireann / The Irish Film Board] present Lenny Abrahamson, Director.

TUESDAY, 10 DECEMBER 2013

Room A025 at 10am

After directing an award-winning short and numerous television commercials, both in Ireland and internationally, Lenny Abrahamson’s début film, Adam & Paul, won the Best First Feature award at the 2004 Galway Film Fleadh and the Grand Prix at the 2005 Sofia International Film Festival. His second feature film, Garage, was selected for the Director’s Fortnight at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival and won the CICAE Art and Essai award. Lenny has also directed for television: Prosperity, the superb four one-hour series for RTÉ. What Richard Did, his third film, was released in 2012 to critical acclaim and all four of these projects won IFTAs. His latest feature, Frank, a comedy about a young wannabe musician, starring Michael Fassbender is currently in post-production.

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European Film Awards

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The 26th European Film Awards Ceremony will take place on 7th December 2013 in Berlin. Ireland is represented in the Feature Film Section by Lenny Abrahamson’s What Richard Did and in the short film category by Cathy Brady’s Morning.
The European Film Academy will present Catherine Deneuve and Pedro Almodóvar with the this year’s honorary awards. Catherine Deneuve will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award and Pedro Almodóvar will receive the award European Achievement in World Cinema.

The nominated films will soon be submitted to the 2,900 EFA Members to elect the winner. The Awards Ceremony will streamed live on www.europeanfilmawards.eu.

Further information: http://europeanfilmawards.eu/

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Lenny Abrahamson Joins Judging Panel for Shoot To Thrill

 

Lenny Abrahamson will be among the judges for the Hot Press Shoot To Thrill competition, run in association with Carlton Screen Advertising.

 

Abrahamson joins a panel of judges which also includes the M.D. of McCann Erickson, Orlaith Blayney, Eoin Wrixon of Carlton Screen Advertising and Ian Jacobs, Creative Director at Windmill Lane Pictures. The panel will be chaired by Hot Press editor Niall Stokes.

 

The ace film director – whose hits include the widely acclaimed Adam & Paul, Garage and What Richard Did – is currently in New Mexico shooting his latest cinematic adventure, entiled Frank. The movie, developed by Film4, and produced by Irish producer Ed Guiney, is based on a memoir by writer Jon Ronson, about his time playing keyboards in a rock’n’roll band, fronted by the legendary Frank Sidebottom aka Chris Sievey. The film will star Michael Fassbender, Domhnall Gleeson and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Final shooting is due to take place in Dublin over the coming month.

 

Orlaith Blayney, the MD of creative agency McCann Erickson, has also been named among the judges. Blayney is one of the leading lights in the advertising business in Ireland. She was just 32 when she was appointed MD of McCann Erickson in 2003 and the company has since gone from strength to strength, with billings of €25 million in 2010. McCann Erickson have handled the creative brief for some of the most prestigious clients operating in Ireland, including Coca Cola, Powerade, Nescafe, Unilever, Boyle Sports, L’Oreal, Dairygold, Tayto and many more.

 

Ian Jacobs is Creative Director at Windmill Lane Pictures. He heads the Commercials Dept., as well as working as Senior Flame Artist. Ian has been working in TV and Film Post Production for 20 years. During that time he has been involved in a vast array of major commercials campaigns, as well as film and broadcast titles, idents and vfx.He has worked on campaigns for Guinness, Eircom, National Lottery, Harp, AIB, Bank of Ireland, Lyons Tea, An Post, Golden Pages and Heineken, along with international campaigns for Strongbow Cider and Digicel, among many more leading brands and companies.

 

“We are really thrilled to have Lenny, Orlaith and Ian on board,” Hot Press editor Niall Stokes said. “The competition represents a wonderful opportunity for the winner to make his or her mark – and the calibre of the judges underlines just how seriously we are taking Shoot To Thrill.”

 

Entrants have been asked to create a 30 second ad for Hot Press, suitable for running in cinemas – and the winner will be named the Hot  Press Carlton Screen Advertising Young Director of the Year.

 

“We decided that we’d give people complete freedom to dream up an ad that would communicate what makes Hot Press such an essential part of the fabric of life in Ireland,” general manager of Carlton Screen Advertising Eoin Wrixon said. “We’d love to get a really powerful statement because it is going to be on every cinema screen in Ireland for the rest of 2013.”
The competition is supported by Windmill Lane Pictures and Ardmore Studios and the prize includes two days of post-production for the winner – to use on a project of his or her own – at new state-of-the-art facilities in Herbert Street; and 1.5 days of studio time in Ardmore Studios in the 3,000 sq. ft. Stage 3 studio.

 

The closing date for entries is March 1st, 2013 – so if you haven’t started already, it’s time to get weaving.

 

Entries should be submitted online at www.hotpress.com/shoottothrill

 

For further information visit www.hotpress.com

 

THE PRIZE 
– The winning director will be announced as the winner of the Hot Press Carlton Screen Advertising Young Director of the Year.
– Hot Press will extensively publicise the winning director’s success in print and online, including a major interview profile.
– The winning ad will be used in a special campaign, run in association with Carlton Screen Advertising, which will ensure that it is seen again and again on the most important screens in Ireland.
– Windmill Lane Pictures Ltd. will provide the winner with 2 days of post-production time at new state-of-the-art facilities
in Herbert St. Winners will choose from a superb suite of options including editing, colour grading & Vfx.
– Ardmore Studios will provide the winner with 1.5 days of time in the 3,000 sq ft Stage 3 studio, one of the five versatile sound stages in Ireland’’s legendary film studios.
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DVD Review: What Richard Did

DIR: Lenny Abrahamson PRO: Ed Guiney, Andrew Lowe DOP: David Grennan ED: Nathan Nugent DES: Stephanie Clerkin Cast: Jack Reynor, Lars Mikkelsen, Roisin Murphy

 

Although director Lenny Abrahamson is keen to stress that What Richard Did is separate from the Brian Murphy / Annabel’s case, it’s impossible to watch this without acknowledging it in some manner. There are simply too many similarities between the two to be ignored. That said, the film doesn’t comment on the case or the social / class issues that the case raised in Irish society. What Richard Did is a study of pressure and consequence. The titular character, Richard (Jack Reynor), is the atypical Celtic Tiger cub. He’s young, affluent and attends a private school in South Dublin. However, as the film progresses, it’s slowly revealed that Richard is not as happy as he initially seems. Constantly held up as the example and alpha of his peers, the conditioning that is worked on him begins to take its toll on him. As he begins a relationship with Lara (Roisin Murphy) that sees his teammate Conor (Sam Keeley) edged out, the film’s emotional content comes to the fore and culminates in a violent encounter outside a house party.

 

Abrahamson’s direction is muted and stable. There are no cinematic flourishes; here, the cinematography matches the mood of each individual scene. When Richard is withdrawn and sullen, the colours drop to a dull, familiar grey and pulled over curtains. As well as this, the dialogue is both authentic and economical. Malcolm Campbell’s script cleverly leaves out the character’s thoughts and emotions in dialogue, instead allowing the actors to portray them using their own means. In particular, one scene involving Richard finally cracking from the tension is riveting to watch. Screaming wordlessly and pounding like a maniac, Reynor’s performance is unsettling and difficult to watch, but is also entirely believable. Supporting Reynor is Danish actor Lars Mikkelsen who plays his father, Peter. Mikkelsen’s measured tones and glacial exterior hint at someone who’s dealt with emotional issues like what Richard is going through – though not to his extent.

 

Overall, What Richard Did is a powerful drama that doesn’t cast judgement on individuals or society as a whole. It simply tells the story of a young man and his attempts to cope with unbearable pressure. The film’s pacing is slow and, at times, it can seem like the story isn’t moving forward – instead focusing on an individual mood or scene. However, nothing feels superfluous or unnecessary – it’s more that the point or thrust of a scene is being hammered home when it doesn’t need to be. It’s a minor complaint in an otherwise exceptional film. Both Reynor and Abrahamson have marked themselves out as singular talents; this is Reynor’s first lead role and will go on to impress again. Likewise, Abrahamson continues to lead the pack in Irish cinema and will undoubtedly move beyond our shores to become a force to be reckoned with.
Brian Lloyd

Element Pictures Distribution is distributing the DVD, which is available to rent exclusively from Xtra-vision from Friday, 25th January . The film is also  available on-demand from 8th February.

The DVD includes special features such as an audio commentary from director Lenny Abrahamson and writer Malcolm Campbell, as well as a special director’s interview.

Additional stockists of the DVD are Golden Discs, Tesco’s, Heatons and Tower Records.

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Irish DVD and On-Demand Release for ‘What Richard Did’.

 

Element Pictures Distribution have announced the forthcoming Irish DVD and on-demand release of What Richard Did.  Nominated for ten Irish Film and Television (IFTA) awards, including Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Script, What Richard Did is also nominated for Best Screenplay at this year’s London Evening Standard British Film Awards.

 

What Richard Did is available to rent exclusively from Xtra-vision from 25th January and to buy on DVD and on-demand from 8th February.

 

DVD Special features include: Audio Commentary with director Lenny Abrahamson and writer Malcolm Campbell and Director’s Interview.

What Richard Did follows Richard Karlsen (Jack Reynor), golden-boy athlete and undisputed alpha-male of his privileged set of South Dublin teenagers, through the summer between the end of school and the beginning of university. The world is bright and everything seems possible, until one summer night Richard does something that destroys it all and shatters the lives of the people closest to him.

DVD will be available to buy nationwide.  Stockists include:  Xtra-vision, Golden Discs, Tesco’s, Heatons and Tower Records.  On-demand is available via www.volta.ie

 

Element Pictures and Bord Scannán na hÉireann/Irish Film Board present What Richard Did

 

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First Look at Lenny Abrahamson’s ‘Frank’

Pictured on set in New Mexico where filming started this week: Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Dark Knight, Donnie Darko) as Clara, Michael Fassbender  (Prometheus, Shame) as Frank and Domhnall Gleeson  (Anna Karenina, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II) as Jon.

 

Also starring (but not pictured) are Scoot McNairy (Argo, Killing Me Softly) and musician Carla Azar (most recently drummer on Jack White’s Blunderbuss) and French actor/musician Francois Civil.

 

FRANK is a comedy about a young wannabe musician, Jon (Gleeson), who discovers he’s bitten off more than he can chew when he joins a band of eccentric pop musicians led by the mysterious and enigmatic Frank (Fassbender) and his terrifying sidekick Clara (Gyllenhaal).

 

The film is directed by Ireland’s critically acclaimed Lenny Abrahamson (Adam & Paul, Garage, What Richard Did).  FRANK is written by Jon Ronson (The Men Who Stare At Goats) and Peter Straughan  (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Men Who Stare At Goats). FRANK is based on the memoir by Jon Ronson and is a fictional story loosely inspired by Frank Sidebottom, the persona of cult musician and comedy legend Chris Sievey, as well as outsider musicians like Daniel Johnston and Captain Beefheart.    The director of photography is James Mather (Adam & Paul), production designer Richard Bullock (StreetDance 3D, Spike Island). Music is by regular Abrahamson collaborator, Stephen Rennicks.

 

FRANK is an Element Pictures and Runaway Fridge production.   Ed Guiney (What Richard Did, The Guard) produces for Element Pictures with David Barron (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: part 1 and part  2, Jack Ryan) and Stevie Lee (The Making of a Lady) producing for Runaway Fridge. Executive producers are Tessa Ross, Katherine Butler and Andrew Lowe.

 

The film was developed by Film4 and is being financed by Film4, the BFI, The Irish Film Board as well as tax breaks in New Mexico and Ireland.

 

Protagonist Pictures are handling international sales.

 

Pictured on set in New Mexico where filming started this week: Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Dark Knight, Donnie Darko) as Clara, Michael Fassbender  (Prometheus, Shame) as Frank and Domhnall Gleeson  (Anna Karenina, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II) as Jon.

 

Also starring (but not pictured) are Scoot McNairy (Argo, Killing Me Softly) and musician Carla Azar (most recently drummer on Jack White’s Blunderbuss) and French actor/musician Francois Civil.

 

FRANK is a comedy about a young wannabe musician, Jon (Gleeson), who discovers he’s bitten off more than he can chew when he joins a band of eccentric pop musicians led by the mysterious and enigmatic Frank (Fassbender) and his terrifying sidekick Clara (Gyllenhaal).

 

The film is directed by Ireland’s critically acclaimed Lenny Abrahamson (Adam & Paul, Garage, What Richard Did).  FRANK is written by Jon Ronson (The Men Who Stare At Goats) and Peter Straughan  (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Men Who Stare At Goats). FRANK is based on the memoir by Jon Ronson and is a fictional story loosely inspired by Frank Sidebottom, the persona of cult musician and comedy legend Chris Sievey, as well as outsider musicians like Daniel Johnston and Captain Beefheart.    The director of photography is James Mather (Adam & Paul), production designer Richard Bullock (StreetDance 3D, Spike Island). Music is by regular Abrahamson collaborator, Stephen Rennicks.

 

FRANK is an Element Pictures and Runaway Fridge production.   Ed Guiney (What Richard Did, The Guard) produces for Element Pictures with David Barron (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: part 1 and part  2, Jack Ryan) and Stevie Lee (The Making of a Lady) producing for Runaway Fridge. Executive producers are Tessa Ross, Katherine Butler and Andrew Lowe.

 

The film was developed by Film4 and is being financed by Film4, the BFI, The Irish Film Board as well as tax breaks in New Mexico and Ireland.

 

Protagonist Pictures are handling international sales.

 

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Cinema Review: What Richard Did

DIR: Lenny Abrahamson • WRI: Malcolm Campbell • PRO: Ed Guiney • DOP: David Grennan • ED: Nathan Nugent • DES: Stephanie Clerkin • Cast: Jack Reynor, Roisin Murphy, Sam Keeley, Gavin Drea

 

Although director Lenny Abrahamson is keen to stress that What Richard Did is separate from the Brian Murphy / Annabel’s case, it’s impossible to watch this without acknowledging it in some manner. There are simply too many similarities between the two to be ignored. That said, the film doesn’t comment on the case or the social / class issues that the case raised in Irish society. What Richard Did is a study of pressure and consequence. The titular character, Richard (Jack Reynor), is the atypical Celtic Tiger cub. He’s young, affluent and attends a private school in South Dublin. However, as the film progresses, it’s slowly revealed that Richard is not as happy as he initially seems. Constantly held up as the example and alpha of his peers, the conditioning that is worked on him begins to take its toll on him. As he begins a relationship with Lara (Roisin Murphy) that sees his teammate Conor (Sam Keeley) edged out, the film’s emotional content comes to the fore and culminates in a violent encounter outside a house party.

 

Abrahamson’s direction is muted and stable. There are no cinematic flourishes; here, the cinematography matches the mood of each individual scene. When Richard is withdrawn and sullen, the colours drop to a dull, familiar grey and pulled over curtains. As well as this, the dialogue is both authentic and economical. Malcolm Campbell’s script cleverly leaves out the characters’ thoughts and emotions in dialogue, instead allowing the actors to portray them using their own means. In particular, one scene involving Richard finally cracking from the tension is riveting to watch. Screaming wordlessly and pounding like a maniac, Reynor’s performance is unsettling and difficult to watch, but is also entirely believable. Supporting Reynor is Danish actor Lars Mikkelsen who plays his father, Peter. Mikkelsen’s measured tones and glacial exterior hint at someone who’s dealt with emotional issues like what Richard is going through – though not to his extent.

 

Overall, What Richard Did is a powerful drama that doesn’t cast judgement on individuals or society as a whole. It simply tells the story of a young man and his attempts to cope with unbearable pressure. The film’s pacing is slow and, at times, it can seem like the story isn’t moving forward – instead focusing on an individual mood or scene. However, nothing feels superfluous or unnecessary – it’s more that the point or thrust of a scene is being hammered home when it doesn’t need to be. It’s a minor complaint in an otherwise exceptional film. Both Reynor and Abrahamson have marked themselves out as singular talents; this is Reynor’s first lead role and will go on to impress again. Likewise, Abrahamson continues to lead the pack in Irish cinema and will undoubtedly move beyond our shores to become a force to be reckoned with.

 

Brian Lloyd

Rated 15A (see IFCO website for details)
87mins

What Richard Did is released on 5th October 2012

What Richard Did   –  Official Website

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Michael Fassbender and Domhnall Gleeson to star in Lenny Abrahamson film ‘Frank’

Michael Fassbender (12 Years A Slave, Prometheus, Shame) and Domhnall Gleeson (True Grit, Harry Potter, Anna Karenina) are attached to star in Lenny Abrahamson’s next project Frank.

Frank is written by Jon Ronson (The Men Who Stare at Goats) and Peter Straughan (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Men Who Stare At Goats) and has been developed by Film4 who will also co-finance the film with the Irish Film Board.

Frank is a comedy about a young wannabe musician, Jon (Gleeson), who discovers he’s bitten off more than he can chew when he joins an eccentric pop band led by the mysterious and enigmatic Frank (Fassbender).

Speaking on the announcement, producer Ed Guiney of Element Pictures commented that: ‘Frank is a wonderfully funny script which brings together Michael Fassbender, Domhnall Gleeson and Lenny Abrahamson three of the most exciting Irish talents working in cinema today’.

James Hickey, Chief Executive, Bord Scannán na hÉireann/The Irish Film Board (IFB) added ‘We are delighted to be working with Element Pictures and Film4 on this exciting project. Lenny is a great Irish filmmaker while Michael and Domhnall are exceptional world class Irish actors making this project a wonderful opportunity for the Irish Film Board to support Irish talent on the world stage.’

Fassbender, who won Best Actor in Venice in 2011 for his performance in Steve McQueen’s Shame, is currently shooting Ridley Scott’s The Counselor alongside Brad Pitt and Cameron Diaz, while Domhnall Gleeson recently finished shooting Richard Curtis’ new comedy About Time, and was recently named as one of Variety’s ’10 Actors to Watch’.

Frank will mark the fourth feature film collaboration between Abrahamson and Element Pictures. Past features include Garage, which won the CICAE Prize in Cannes 2007, and Adam & Paul which won Best Director award at the Irish Film and TV Awards. Abrahamson’s current film What Richard Did will premiere at the Toronto Film festival in mid-September and is being released in Irish cinemas on 5th October  through Element Pictures Distribution.

Frank is a co-production between Runaway Fridge and Element Pictures and will be produced by David Barron, Ed Guiney and Stevie Lee. Exec producers for Film4 are Tessa Ross and Katherine Butler and for Element Pictures, Andrew Lowe. Protagonist Pictures are handling international sales. Frank is scheduled to commence principal photography late 2012.

 

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IFI20: Lenny Abrahamson’s ‘What Richard Did’ is Gala Closing Night Screening

The European Premiere of What Richard Did by Lenny Abrahamson to be the Gala Closing Night Screening of IFI20, September’s month-long celebration of 20 years of the IFI in Temple Bar

IFI20, in association with Element Pictures Distribution, will present the European premiere of the hotly anticipated new film by Lenny Abrahamson, director of award-winning Garage and Adam & Paul. What Richard Did is a striking portrait of the fall of Richard, golden-boy of his privileged set of Dublin teens, whose world unravels one summer night. This special screening on the 30th September at 7.30pm will be attended by Lenny Abrahamson and will be the closing night of IFI20, the month-long celebration of twenty years of the IFI in Temple Bar.

Lenny Abrahamson said ‘The IFI has been a big part of my cinema life over the last 20 years – both as a viewer and a maker – and I have a deep affection for the building and for the institution as a whole. So I am delighted that What Richard Did will have its European premiere there. It feels like home.

What Richard Did follows Richard Karlsen, golden-boy athlete and undisputed alpha-male of his privileged set of South Dublin teenagers, through the summer between the end of school and the beginning of university. The world is bright and everything seems possible, until one summer night Richard does something that destroys it all and shatters the lives of the people closest to him. Featuring extraordinary performances from its mainly young cast, What Richard Did is a quietly devastating study of a boy confronting the gap between who he thought he was and who he proves to be.

Featuring an ensemble of young Irish actors including Jack Reynor, Sam Keeley and Roisin Murphy, as well as established talent including Lorraine Pilkington and Lars Mikkelsen (star of the Danish hit series, The Killing). Written by Malcolm Campbell (Skins, Shameless), What Richard Did is the third film from one of Ireland’s most admired filmmaking talents.

WHAT RICHARD DID is produced by Ed Guiney with Andrew Lowe as executive producer for Element Pictures and marks the third feature film between Element Pictures and Lenny Abrahamson.

Tickets are available through the IFI Box Office on 01 679 3477 or online at www.ifi.ie.


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