‘QED’ Screens at Santa Fe Film Festival

QED, a powerful human rights short directed by Galway actorress Amy-Joyce Hastings will have its international premiere at the 17th Santa Fe Film Festival in February. This will mark Hastings’ third appearance in Santa Fe. She has screened there twice previously as an actor; when Game of Thrones creator George R. R. Martin personally hosted the US premiere of her romantic comedy feature The Callback Queen at his famous Jean Cocteau Cinema, and at the 2016 festival when her participating film Lily won both ‘Best Narrative Short’ and the ‘Courage in Cinema’ Award for its director Graham Cantwell.

Billed as a stylish urban drama with deep emotional resonance, QED tells the story of Jack and Ali – a happily married couple until a terrible accident shatters their perfect world. In the aftermath Ali struggles to accept their new circumstances, while Jack retains hope their lives will return to normal. As the difficulties of their daily reality grind them down, Jack finds emotional solace in a flirtation with work colleague Claudia, while Ali is increasingly left alone with home carer Maria. Ali’s emotional distress meanwhile manifests ever more frequently in dangerous episodes. Just as Jack finally comes to accept things as they are and commits himself to do better, Ali has reached her own conclusion about the future and puts their love to the test. Exploring the theme of sacrificial love, QED poses the ultimate question, ‘What won’t love do?’

 

QED premiered at the 29th Galway Film Fleadh and screened at the Kerry Film Festival and the Richard Harris International Film Festival in Limerick late last year. Says Hastings about the film, “QED is ostensibly a drama exploring love and fidelity but it is at its core a complex human rights issue that will become more prevalent in our society as we live longer. I approached the film from the perspective of being a prisoner in your own body. As a society we deny people their human rights in determining on their own behalf whether they want to live like that. We meet two active, sexual, successful characters – take all that away and their marriage as they knew it is destroyed, but their love remains. Agápē – a love that is prepared to sacrifice itself for a higher purpose. She loves him and so doesn’t want to condemn him to a lifetime of celibate caretaking. He loves her and wants to release her, but feels it’s an impossible ask… What won’t love do? Can you ask someone you love to suffer; to sacrifice their own life to look after you; to live with your death on their conscience? Can you set them free even if it would destroy you? The ending is deliberately ambiguous. I leave it to the individual viewer to interpret. My entire thesis with QED is about the individual’s right to decide, not society’s right to superimpose their decision onto somebody who’s physically incapable of determining their own future. It’s a hard, emotive subject, but I think it is the role of art to shine a light on difficult topics.”

 

The film was co-written by Hastings and lead actor Michael O’Kelly (Red Rock). It stars Donna Anita Nikolaisen – best known for her role as Ama Chisenga in Fair City – as Ali, with prolific actors Norma Sheahan (Handsome Devil) and Charlene Gleeson (Penny Dreadful) cast in the other principal roles.

 

QED is Hastings’ fourth short film behind the lens. In July 2016 she wrote & directed Body of Christ, a micro short commissioned by the Galway Film Centre. Body of Christ won ‘Best One Minute Film’ at the 7th Underground Cinema Film Festival, 2nd place at the 28th Galway Film Fleadh’s ‘One Minute Film Festival’. The film was also nominated for the Micro Cinema Award at the Blackbird Film Festival in New York last year and is nominated at the upcoming Sky Television’s Short Film Show Awards later this year. Previous shorts as writer/director include Hear Me Now and Nocturne Passage.

QED was shot on various locations in and around Dublin. Trisha Flood, Danielle Collins, Jannik Ohlendieck and Michael O’Kelly produced, with Alan Fitzpatrick, Graham Cantwell and Alice Mansergh as Executive Producers for Filmbase and Film Venture. The multinational crew includes Czech cinematographer Jaro Waldeck as Director of Photography, with TV3 Fashionista Sonja Mohlich as Costume Designer, Marina Granville as Key Makeup and Hair Artist, and Jessica Timlin and Alekson Lacerda Dall’Armellina on production design. The score was created by two time Emmy nominated composer Joseph Conlan and post production sound was headed up by Dean Jones at Raygun Sound.

Amy-Joyce Hastings, Co-writer & Director of ‘QED’

 

 

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Amy-Joyce Hastings, Co-writer & Director of ‘QED’

Charlene Gleeson (QED) 

Amy-Joyce Hastings shines a light on her short film QED, which screens at this year’s Galway Film Fleadh.

What can you tell us about QED?

I’m being somewhat tight-lipped about some of the major themes until after it’s had its world premiere in Galway. You only get one chance to see it with a virgin audience if that makes sense… QED tackles some big issues, it will be controversial to some I imagine but sure to spark debate at any rate! At its core it’s a film about love. For a short, at just 17 minutes, it takes a deep dive into a passionate marital relationship and poses the ultimate question – what won’t love do?

 

How did the story come about for you and Michael O’Kelly? 

So the story was Michael’s, and the screenplay was mine. He had this amazing idea he’d been carrying around in his head for years, it was loosely inspired by real events from his own life. He first pitched the idea to me last year at the Kerry Film Festival and I was blown away by it. When I read his first draft it didn’t really put across the story he’d described to me back then so we worked on the story for several weeks till we had a filmable script that effectively put across the themes and relationship I’d found so captivating initially. Michael was great to work with on the script, and that is so often not easy for somebody to do. It was a very fluid collaboration.

 

Were you planning to direct from the get-go?

No, not at all. I was just at a festival listening to an actor’s idea for a short. That happens a lot. I never imagined I’d end up making it! Then a month later I asked Michael to take part in a reading of my feature screenplay After The Rain, after which he asked if I’d direct his short. I was very taken with the idea but was stuck into my own screenplay and thought his first draft needed time I didn’t have to develop it into a film. But at the same time, something in it just struck a chord with me and I couldn’t let it go. And here we are now….

 Amy-Joyce Hastings

You’ve written and directed a number of shorts now – it’s obviously something you enjoy alongside acting…

I love it. It’s a crazy amount of work, but there’s something addictive about taking something from your imagination and making it manifest. There are commonalities with acting – the storytelling, the creativity, and of course there are differences – it’s a lot more technical and time consuming on the one project, but they are all very rewarding in their various ways.

 

Can you tell us a little about Filmbase’s involvement in the project?

Yes, I’m delighted Filmbase was one of the main production companies on QED. It was similar to the scheme Alan Fitzpatrick [Filmbase MD] devised last year with Lily. So, each Spring the Filmbase Digital Masters students make a feature film through Filmbase. And last year Graham Cantwell, who mentors on the course, had a short film script he really wanted to make, so Alan cleverly suggested they produce it through Filmbase and use it as a training exercise for the Digital Masters, prior to going out to shoot their own feature. They hired in professional Heads of Departments and each HOD supervised a team of students who made up the crew. I sent Alan the QED script in January and he really responded to it and suggested we do it the same way as we had with Lily, provided we could shoot early February! It was a very quick pre-production period but we took that great momentum into the shoot. Filmbase also provided some of the resources and film equipment for us. It really helped us achieve high production values so we could best utilise our budget.

 

You must be excited to screen at Galway…

I’m thrilled to premiere the film at Galway. It’s an exceptional year for shorts programming with some big names in the category. It’s always a great launching pad for films in Ireland. I had to press very hard to get the film ready in time but it was worth it now it’s in!

 

QED screens at the 29th Galway Film Fleadh as part of New Irish Shorts 1 on Wednesday, 12th July at the Town Hall Theatre at 10:30.

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The 29th Galway Film Fleadh runs 11 – 16 July 2017

 

 

 

Preview of Irish Film @ Galway Film Fleadh 2017

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