Irish Paraguayan Feature Documentary “ELIZA LYNCH – Queen of Paraguay” is close to completion with acclaimed Irish actress Maria Doyle Kennedy playing Eliza.

Produced by Stuart Switzer of Ireland’s Coco Television, the documentary captures the epic story of Irishwoman Eliza Lynch, the “Queen of Paraguay” in a story of hunger, war and wealth, of family, love, tragedy and loss.

A love story between the beautiful, imperious Eliza, Heroine of Paraguay and the President Francisco Solano Lopez, is one of the most intriguing, and yet one of the least known epic lives of modern history.

Directed by renowned Irish director and film-maker, Alan Gilsenan, this powerful documentary film ‘ELIZA LYNCH – Queen of Paraguay’ tells the story of this epic catastrophe through the eyes of Eliza Lynch. Born in Charleville, County Cork in 1833, she was the most famous woman in all of South America in the 19th century; and, as deliberately distorted by her enemies, the most infamous.

Shot in many locations in Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil, France, England and in Eliza’s native Ireland throughout 2012, the final scenes of ‘ELIZA LYNCH – Queen of Paraguay’, were shot in Feb 2013 with Maria Doyle Kennedy, methodically and at times eerily, embracing the dynamic character of Eliza Lynch.

Eliza is dramatically cast as both her younger self and her role in older years.  In depicting her later years she is played brilliantly by Maria Doyle Kennedy, whose acting credits include award winning roles in The General and The Tudors and most recently in the ITV Dramas Downtown Abbey and Titanic. She began her acting career in Alan Parker’s landmark film The Commitments.

As a young woman in Paraguay Eliza is played by famous Paraguayan model and Olympic athlete, Leryn Franco; who beautifully captures the spirit of a young Eliza Lynch.

Based on 18 years of original research in 10 countries by two Irishmen, the former diplomat Michael Lillis and the historian Professor Ronan Fanning (whose book The Lives of Eliza Lynch, the documentary is based upon), ‘ELIZA LYNCH – Queen of Paraguay’ reveals for the first time the human trajectory of Eliza’s own turbulent life.  Stripped of layer after layer of calumnies accumulated by her enemies over a century, the extraordinary truth now emerges.

Beautiful, sophisticated, glamorous, but above all gutsy, generous and astonishingly devoid of malice, Eliza had her faults: at times high-handed, at times selfish. ‘ELIZA LYNCH – Queen of Paraguay’ documents her unique love story, ‘a love story of the damned’; how Eliza met in Paris in 1854 the son of the President of Paraguay, Francisco Solano Lopez then, at 28, a mega-rich, intelligent diplomat-General (she was 20); how she became his uncrowned Queen of Paraguay, how, though they never married, she bore him seven children, how, though she had several opportunities to escape with her children, she stuck by him through unending disasters throughout the unspeakable horrors of the War of 1864 until his death in the last battle  in 1870 and how she continued to love him until she herself died in lonely circumstances in Paris in 1886.

“We were incredibly excited about this documentary.” says producer Stuart Switzer of Coco Television. “Mindful of the sensibility and emotive nature in its historic positioning, we invested considerable time working with the authors Michael and Ronan to ensure we created a piece that reflected the reality and intensity of this ultimately epic love story.  This documentary is our Director Alan Gilsenan’s creative vision and it is with great pride that we take this documentary to the international stage.”

“It is a hugely exciting challenge and, indeed, a privilege to make a film on the life of Eliza Lynch.” says Director Alan Gilsenan.  “When I first read Michael Lillis and Ronan Fanning’s seminal biography, I was really gripped by the epic potency of this extraordinary tale.  But I’m also slightly daunted by the responsibility –  for, while Eliza is proudly Irish by birth, she is truly Paraguayan in her heart and remains very close to the hearts of the people of that wonderful country, a country that I have come to know and love during the making of this film.

I sincerely hope that we can do full justice to the wonderfully complex and passionately courageous spirit of Eliza Lynch.”

This feature length drama documentary will run for approximately 75 mins. ‘ELIZA LYNCH– Queen of Paraguay’ will be screened at a private event in front of President Franco and invited guests in Asuncion, Paraguay on Wednesday 10 April in the Auditorium of the Central Bank of Paraguay.  Following the screening, the documentary will be immediately submitted to leading international film festival, generating awareness and recognition for the documentary, Eliza Lynch and Paraguay world-wide.  Thereafter, “ELIZA LYNCH – Queen of Paraguay”, will be released in Paraguay and then around the world.

“We look forward with great anticipation to the launch of the dramatized documentary about Madama Eliza Alicia Lynch.” say President Franco of Paraguay. “We admire all parties personal commitment to this project, which we are sure will be a source of national pride and enlightenment for the people of Paraguay and for the people of Eliza Lynch’s native country, Ireland.”

The project is supported by the Irish Film Board, the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland Sound & Vision Fund, Irish Tax Incentive Section 481, RTE, Abbeyfield Group and Sudameris Bank and Hibernia Misiones of Paraguay and has had invaluable help and logistical resources of the Paraguayan Government.

“The War of the Triple Alliance is a chilling story of an attempt to extinguish a nation.” Says Conor McEnroy, Chairman of Sudameris Bank.  “Epic, brutal and with strong overtones of genocide, it conjures up images of Cromwell set on the systematic destruction of the Irish nation – ‘to Hell or to Connaught!’; and in the middle we find Eliza, a young Irish heroine, as a protagonist for her newly adopted country. Paraguay survived and this story must be told in all its naked truth.”

Eliza Lynch became the National Heroine of her adopted country, Paraguay. Eliza epitomised the heroic struggle of the Paraguayan people in the War of the Triple Alliance of 1864 to 1870 against the combined forces, the Triple Alliance, of giant Brazil, huge Argentina and smaller Uruguay. The War is without equal in modern history for its grim harvest of death, suffering and destruction. Over 90% of the men and boys aged over seven of Paraguay perished and 50% of her women and girls. Paraguay, the most advanced country in the region, was driven back to the Stone Age.

Coco Television are in discussion with a number of international studios about creating an international TV drama series based on the life of Eliza Lynch.


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