Interview with Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly, producer of ‘Lady Macbeth’

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Grace Corry talks to Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly, the producer of Lady Macbeth.

Set in rural England, 1865, Katherine (Florence Pugh) is stifled by her loveless marriage to a bitter man twice her age, whose family are cold and unforgiving. When she embarks on a passionate affair with a young worker on her husband’s estate, a force is unleashed inside her, so powerful that she will stop at nothing to get what she wants.

 

What was it about this project that appealed to you?

 

It really started with Nikolai Leskov’s novella and Catrina, the protagonist in the book – she was just such an intriguing, complex female protagonist that I really wanted to explore her story. Plus there was the chance to work with William Oldroyd, the director, and Alice Birch, the writer, who adapted the book.

 

Both have had a remarkable couple of years, particularly in the theatre. How did the relationship come about between the 3 of you?

Somebody recommended I watch a short film called Best, which was the Winner of Best Short Film Competition at Sundance London in 2013. I watched it and fell in love with it. I thought it was incredibly original, brilliantly executed  and so clever. I wanted to meet him and when we met we got on like a house on fire. During that meeting he told me had just met Alice and that she had an idea to adapt this Russian novella. She hadn’t written anything yet but we both loved the novella and decided to join forces and started developing the project together and adapting it and setting it in 1865 rural England rather than the Russian setting of the novella.

 

What was the thinking behind that?

Isolation is such a huge theme in the book and we felt the time and the setting in Northumberland in rural England would reflect that theme. We did look at contemporising it but we just felt we wanted to protect the period element of the story and we were drawn to British period dramas and wanted to do something a little bit different with that. We felt this sort of story would be a way of doing that.

 

For a period drama you had a fairly small budget – how much of a challenge was that as a producer.

It was definitely a challenge making a period film on such a small budget but we figured it out and because of the way we made the film in terms of us being a team of equal partners in it together, which it made it easier in ways. Yes, it was a challenge – but it was fun figuring it out!

 

Lady Macbeth is in cinemas now

 

 

 

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ADIFF 2017 Irish Film Review: Amanda Coogan: Long Now

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Grace Corry takes a look at Paddy Cahill’s exploration of Amanda Coogan’s durational performance art practice.

The one-man production that is Paddy Cahill returns in homage to long-time friend and collaborator, Amanda Coogan in this intriguing, frank depiction of a life dedicated to an uncharted art in Ireland. Cahill, who shoots, directs and edits all his own work has been crucial in documenting Coogan’s performances, beginning with Yellow, which premiered at the Dublin Film Festival in 2012, followed by this seminal piece which focuses both on Coogan’s life and work, the influences that brought her to where she is now, and her lifelong study of the body’s language.

At the centre of Long Now is Coogan’s most notable performance to date, I’ll Sing You a Song from Around the Town, an ambitious undertaking whereby Coogan performed in the RHA Gallery for a gruelling 6 hours a day, 5 days a week for 6 weeks. The piece was an exploration of durational/endurance performance, the likes of which had never been seen in Ireland before. Such was its popularity that it became the most visited and successful exhibitions in the gallery’s history.

Performance art, hinged on time and site, combines a range of visual arts with the human body at its core. After training under Marina Abramovic it is no wonder that Coogan’s interests lie in the sensational and the risky, often politically and religiously charged.

Time is of the utmost importance to Coogan’s work – it is something she explains as a concept, a facilitator to the relationship between audience and performer. It offers, she believes, an infinity through the repetition of her movements, a slow and enduring style that both performer and filmmaker propose as an ‘infinite loop’ by which the audience can imagine the performer continuing to perform, long after they have left the space. The art form itself is exquisite, and is presented so by Cahill, who cuts and angles his shots to challenge our ever decreasing attention spans, as Coogan does, lingering, dwelling on the images that are not particularly cinematic but are true to Coogan’s design. The opening ten minutes of the film, for example, are close up on Coogan during I’ll Sing You a song from Around the Town, unflinching, her condition not even allowing a single blink, her movements contesting the speed at which everything must be consumed in modern society. She asks us to slow down, to breath. Cahill adopts this mantra by upholding the principles of performance art in his film – long, worshipping and often beautiful shots of Coogan with her work, with other practitioners performing her pieces. This breaks occasionally in attempts to offer a candid moment with Coogan, but at some of these points she seems disengaged, perhaps removed from her work, from the reason the camera was there at all and if the film fell down at any point it was these comparatively hammy depictions of Coogan’s ‘daily life’.

The accounts shared by Coogan throughout the film were carefully selected by Cahill, pieces he recorded of her talking to others, often students of hers, to eliminate the formalities of the interview and questions that would seem contrived had they been asked by Cahill (he would have known the answers all too well). I would have liked to see a single, if short, conversation/address from Coogan though, a more clear cut expression of the woman behind the art as opposed to selected sections of exchanges with other people. The answers may have been known to Cahill but probably not to the layman. Coogan the artist was present but the person behind it didn’t truly appear.

Having said that, Cahill captures sublimely the nature of the work created by Coogan, her love and respect for her art and in doing so has made it meaningful and most importantly, accessible to Irish audiences. It’s a lovely film, and will undoubtedly last as a record of the avant-garde existing in Irish culture, a snap shot of performance art stepping into the light.

 

Amanda Coogan: Long Now screened on Saturday, 18th February 2017 at the IFI as part of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival

 

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Podcast: Interview with Grainne Humphreys, ADIFF 2017 Festival Director

 

Film Directors John Butler and Jim Sheridan with Grainne Humphreys - ADIFF Festival Director when details were announced of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival 2017 which will take place from from 16th February 2017 to 26th February 2017. The world’s best films are coming to Audi Dublin International Film Festival with Vanessa Redgrave, Nathalie Baye, Kerry Fox, Ross Noble, Ben Wheatley, and Anna Friel joining top Irish talent Jack Reynor, Moe Dunford, Cillian Murphy, John Butler and Aiden Gillen on the red carpet. The 2017 programme rolls out the red carpet in cinemas right across the city for a rich mix of new films from across the world accompanied by top International and Irish guest talent that will see tens of thousands of Irish film fans seek out new cinema experiences across the eleven days and nights of the festival. Tickets go on sale and the digital programmewill be available to browse and download from 18.30 on 18th January at www.diff.ie, by phone on +353 1 687 7974 or in person at DIFF, 13 Ormond Quay. Pictures: Brian McEvoy No repro fee for one use
Film director John Butler and Jim Sheridan with Grainne Humphreys at the launch of ADIFF 2017. Picture: Brian McEvoy.

Grace Corry sat down with Grainne Humphreys, Festival Director of Audi Dublin International Film Festival to delve into the delights of this year’s festival.

 

The Audi Dublin International Film Festival takes place 16 – 26 February 2017.

Check out our preview of the Irish films screening at this year’s festival

Check out the full programme here

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Irish Film Review: Mattress Men

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DIR: Colm Quinn 

After legging it around the city like a headless you-know-what because I had confused myself about the location of this screening when it was in fact the date I got wrong, my sympathiser and an all-round super sound girl (from the Lighthouse box-office) informed me that Element were having a screening that very evening at Mattress Mick’s Pearse street store. Just when all seemed lost, when I was preparing to shuttle away to Smithfield square for a good mope, the single best way I could ever have experienced this documentary presented itself. On a mattress in Mattress Mick’s shop, hobnobbing with the film’s ordinary subjects. The Universe does indeed work in mysterious ways…

The shop is… different. Even without the balloon pillars or the floor-standing speakers blasting passers-by, or the life-size cutouts of the man himself, the shop would be very easily made out by its vivid pink, yellow and purple exterior. Mick Flynn, or Mattress Mick, stands proudly out-front, smiling and willing and proud of his now small but rejuvenated empire. He and his family are well known in the area, going back through generations and an assortment of trades, and, if the locals are anything to go by, he is better identified in these parts by his reputable humour than his “rare” look.

I’d like not to give a scene by scene here as much as I’ll try to engage with the film’s significance, it’s timeliness, and it’s probable that the whole country will see this one anyway. Invited inside the now-famous store, ushered by the informality of what feels like a family gathering, everyone is beaming. Paul Kelly, Micks’ good friend and the driving force behind his online persona gives me a preview of a song he convinced Richie Kavannagh to write for and about Mick, a show of his endless enthusiasm for Mick’s success and the opportunity therein for his own. Director Colm Quinn may have struck lucky for his first feature documentary, and perhaps his subjectivity too.

The chance for opportunity forms a huge part of this story, and the film equally follows Paul’s journey through his own reinvention after being made redundant twice, going through a painful separation at the same time as fending off debt collectors. Fed up and working part-time for Mick, he decides to invest what little capital he has in his own venture, Shoot Audition, some green screen and basic shooting equipment, you know the rest. Hilarious scenes of Mick’s outright discomfort feature throughout, of him making a “fool” of himself “in front of people he knows”, clear insecurities of a local man poo-pooed by Paul’s pure determination to see his vision through, with all the spirit and goodwill akin to old friends. It’s the kind of anomalous relationship you’d find yourself continuously smiling at because as a pair they are as unlikely as they are committed.

From the “Back with a Bang” videos conception to its end, this film is the tale of triumph in the face of imminent bankruptcy, avoided by a remarkable duo who come together, almost serendipitously after years of not meeting, to save each other’s skin. There are moments of pure, raw emotion, particularly when Paul talks about getting his family out of their tiny inner-city apartment to a better life, or where Mick talks about selling his family home to pay off debts. This story is as human as it gets, and reflexive documentary aims at its best to capture the times we live in, the way we are in our worst and best moments, and relay them so simplistically that we can only see ourselves reflected; Quinn does this well.

That’s what this film exudes – tenacity, and it’s a welcome addition to this golden era of Irish documentary. Filmed over three years, it captures in painful and sometimes revelatory detail the hardships brought on by austerity, the challenges faced by people and the reconciliatory role that laughter and positivity play, much called upon coping mechanisms of the past decade.

Colm Quinn’s film is more than the success story of a salesman turned internet star/national treasure, it’s a warm and familiar story of nationhood and, it has to be said, success!

Grace Corry

83 minutes
15A (See IFCO for details)

Mattress Men is released 7th October 2016

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IFI Documentary Festival Podcast 2016: Interview with Sunniva O’Flynn & David O’Mahony

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Ahead of the 2016 edition of the IFI Documentary Festival (22 – 25 September 2016), Grace Corry talks to David O’Mahony, Head of Programming, and Sunniva O’Flynn, Head of Irish Film Programming, about what to expect from this year’s festival.

 

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Review: Where to Invade Next

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DIR: Michael Moore •  CAST: Michael Moore, Krista Kiuru, Tim Walker 

 

You may or may not be surprised to know that Michael Moore almost kicked the bucket this year. Having barely survived a bout of pneumonia which did away with the fifty-date promotional tour planned for his latest documentary, Where to Invade Next, both film and filmmaker seem to be recovering well. With no output in over six years and no Moore to encourage people to go see the film, the thing looked set to flop. He refused several offers to buy the film, including one from Netflix, driven by previous theatrical success and the seemingly uncontrollable urge to agitate.

The film follows Moore’s journey around Europe, cherry picking legislations and cultures that might better suit American society, with healthcare, prison systems, war, drugs and education up for interrogation. He pitches the American flag in the home of a loved up Italian couple who enjoy extensive paid vacations, two-hour work breaks to enjoy lunch with the family, maternity leave and big bonuses; he pitches it in Finland where high IQs are the result of short school days, no homework and the exclusion of private education; Slovenia which offers free third level education for everyone, native or not; Germany, where your doctor can send you to a spa for three weeks if your stressed (its government funded), and where fifty percent of corporate boards are made up of workers, like that of Volkswagen, where employees urged the government to prosecute after the emissions scandal, and where shameful chapters in German history are taught in school and remembered with commemorative public signs that would have addressed Jews. He visits France, where balanced gourmet three-course lunches are served in school cafeterias, and sex education is taught in terms of respect and affection for one’s partner (juxtaposed with a news report of a Catholic American high-school experiencing an outbreak of chlamydia); Portugal, where upholding human dignity and the decriminalisation of drugs has drastically reduced recidivism. He pitches the flag in Norway, where rehabilitation has been the main stay of the prison system, and prison guards make orientation videos that can only be likened to Live Aid; Tunisia, where government funded women’s clinics ensures the wellbeing of all its citizens, and Iceland, where all the shitty bankers went to jail and where women hold key positions in power, women who have brought the country out of the red.

For all the ethical and truth concerns around the preferential framing of Moore’s work (the agency his presence and participation give to his own opinions, often misleading editing coupled with anecdotal evidence), and considering that there is a wealth of countries that America could learn something from, Where to Invade Next is an enjoyable display of socialist propaganda, imbued with all the passion and humour he often deploys to frustrate the daylights out of you.

The film is not an opportunity for the rest of the world to scoff at America, although at times it is hard not to. Moore’s usual ironic, reductive approach is not so much about unattainable possibilities as it is tangible actuality. The opening montage overlays grandiose presidential speeches with American reality, like that of the thousands of servicemen and women who have had their homes repossessed whilst fighting for their country. He wants people to question their circumstance. In politically uncertain times for the US, Moore is selling a better way of life, liberal fantasies, ideals satirically subverted every time he pitches the American flag.

As formidable as he is irritating, it is no coincidence that Moore’s subjectivity coincides with a hugely historic moment in US presidential history (he partly blames his illness on the support he gave to Bernie Sanders’ Democratic campaign). The documentary has no real solutions but is nevertheless stirring and at times inspiring. It ends with Moore recalling his experience of being there when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. Change is always possible and often gives little warning. This beacon of hope is his contribution change, however facetious it may seem to outsiders.

Grace Corry

120 minutes

15A (See IFCO for details)

Where to Invade Next is released 28th June 2016

Where to Invade Next – Official Website

 

 

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