Chiara Viale, Writer / Director of ‘The New Music’

Chiara Viale, Writer / Director of 'The New Music'


Chiara Viale’s feature debut, The New Music, produced in association with Young Parkinson’s Ireland, screens at the IFI on Wednesday, 29th January 2020 at 18.30, followed by a Q&A with Chiara and Gary Boyle of Young Parkinson’s Ireland.

Adrian (Cilléin McEvoy) is a talented pianist with a promising career ahead of him. Playing music is the only thing he lives for until his world falls apart when he is diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease. Afraid of the implications of the illness and of failing the expectations of his family, Adrian runs away from home, destination Dublin.  He finds a room in a shared apartment with punk band members Will (Jack Fenton), David (Patrick O’Brien) and Jodie (Martina Babisova), known collectively as The Cellmates.  Adrian gradually bonds with them as their rebellious lifestyle and punchy music provides lively distraction from his troubles.

Gemma Creagh talked to Chiara about her musical drama revolving around the life of a pianist with Young Onset Parkinson’s and the punk band that changes his life.


Can you tell me how you got involved in the world of film? What’s your background/interests?

Since I was a child I always wrote stories and I’ve been fascinated by cinema. I didn’t have a TV growing up, so going out to watch films on the big screen was a huge deal for me and my siblings. I believe that my love for cinema as an art form comes from that excitement, that respect and the magical feeling of the lights going off before the start of a film.

Although writing has been a part of me since I can remember, I didn’t make a clear connection between the ‘moving images’ in my head and filmmaking until my twenties, when I started experimenting with screenwriting. In 2015, I moved to Ireland and I joined the Dublin Filmmakers Collective, a group who organises filmmaking challenges and encourages everyone from first-time actors/crew to professionals to create short films. In this context, I developed the confidence to move forward with the language of screenwriting and I directed my first short films.

Beside cinema, my main interests are literature and music. I graduated in English as a Foreign Language and Literature with a thesis on Oscar Wilde and music is a vital part of my creative process.


Where did you get your inspiration from for The New Music?

I wanted to tell the story of someone who’s life is turned upside down by external events and they’re now forced to face this change and re-define themselves. This is something that happens all the time around us and I wanted to explore the process of finding ourselves again, which doesn’t mean going back to who we were, because that’s impossible, but rather discover and learn to love who we have become. As I mentioned previously, music is very important to me and I always wanted to make a film about musicians, so the skeleton of the story was formed around a pianist who develops a condition which affects his ability to play his instrument. It was then, through my research, that I came across Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease. I didn’t know this condition existed and I was surprised and upset that so little is known about it, so I decided to use this film as a way to raise awareness around this condition.

What was the writing process like?

I wrote The New Music very quickly and it was initially meant to be a 20-page short film which I then developed into a feature. I thoroughly enjoyed every second of the work I put into writing the script and I listened to a lot of punk music for inspiration, especially Fugazi and contemporary punk rock bands like The Smith Street Band, The Flatliners and Captain, We’re Sinking. The relationship with Young Parkinson’s Ireland was also crucial to this process, as they read the script and gave me their input on the portrayal of Young Onset Parkinson’s in the story.


How did you find the talent?

One of my favourite things about The New Music is how everyone involved always worked as a group of friends and the great chemistry between us. Myself and the Co-Producer/ DOP Philip Kidd had met at Kino Dublin the previous year and we knew Cilléin Mc Evoy, Patrick O’Brien and Martina Babisova from previous projects. We did casting for the role of Will (interpreted by Jack Fenton), Adrian’s Mother (Paula McGlinchey), Young Adrian (Devlin O’Brien) and other minor roles, but the whole process has been smooth and we immediately clicked with each other. Filming has been a really fun and enjoyable experience.

How long did each stage of the process take?

We worked on pre-production from April to June 2017 and then we filmed through the Summer. Principal photography was finished at the end of September 2017. Post-production lasted until August 2019, including pick-ups and filming the necessary b-roll for the film. The New Music premiered at IndieCork in October last year.


What has the response been at screenings?

IndieCork has been a fantastic experience and the film was very well received by public and critics alike. People laughed a lot throughout the film, which has been the most rewarding thing for me. The New Music is about Young Onset Parkinson’s, which is a tragedy in the life of the people who get diagnosed, their families and their friends. To be able to approach an issue such as this and still feel that the audience had a good time and left the cinema feeling uplifted and with a positive feeling about life is all I wanted to achieve with this film.


Book Tickets 

You can follow The New Music on



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Chiara Viale is an Italian-born writer, director and producer based in Ireland. After obtaining a degree in English as Foreign Language and Literature in Milan, she went on studying screenwriting in Dublin and began making independent films. Since then she has written, directed and taken part in numerous short films such as Be Frank (2017), Clear The Air (2018) and Clown (2019). She is also co-founder of the Dublin based production company Built To Fail Productions.



Áine Stapleton, director of ‘Horrible Creature’

'Horrible Creature', Aine Stapleton

Áine Stapleton introduces us to her film Horrible Creaturewhich screens on Wednesday, 8th January 2020  at 18.30 at the IFI as part of IFI & First Fortnight January 2020.

Horrible Creature is the second part of a proposed trilogy of films about Lucia Joyce. It examines her life between 1915 and 1950 and is filmed at locations where she spent time in Switzerland. The first film, Medicated Milk, was inspired by Lucia’s diaries which she wrote at a psychiatric hospital in Northampton, England, between the 1960s and 1980s. 

Whereas Medicated Milk offers a more disembodied and fluid exploration of Lucia’s memories and dreams, Horrible Creature brings the body to the forefront and follows a linear structure of events. It meets Lucia during her earlier formative years and examines her education, dissension between her parents, childhood friendships, romantic relationships, her professional dance training, and ill-treatment suffered whilst in psychiatric care. It also looks at how memories of traumatic experiences can become clouded, repressed, and stored away in the body, but ultimately these subconscious and unconscious energies find expression through our feelings, dreams, and actions.

I began working on Horrible Creature directly after finishing Medicated Milk in 2015. I moved to Zurich, Switzerland, for one year and researched part-time at the Zurich James Joyce Foundation, which is directed by the legendary Fritz Senn. The Joyce family moved from Italy to Zurich in 1915, to escape the turmoil of WW1. Lucia later trained as a professional dancer in France and performed throughout Europe. She returned to Switzerland for psychiatric treatment in the 1930s, most famously with Carl Jung.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many firsthand accounts by Lucia from this time period. I revised the letters and diaries that I had gathered for Medicated Milk and searched various archives for earlier writings and letters of communication by Lucia, her friends, family, and doctors. I edited these texts to create a film script and a choreographic score. A choreographic score is a detailed language score, that is interpreted by performers through movements and vocalisations. For example, this score was filmed in the church at the Madonna Del Sasso monastery in Locarno – ‘She goes to the garden where she remains inaccessible. The garden is rather sad, but there are some beautiful colours and stained glass inside. She sits in the green like flowers on a grave, and is in sympathy with the present. The light here is wonderful so she can sing at last, and her bird song is a little monotonous. Her song is a reminder of a lifeless place.’

Horrible Creature is a retelling of Lucia’s life through the art form which was her passion and explores the transformative nature of dance. I was grateful to work with a cast of three diverse and outstanding dance artists from different countries – Michelle Boulé (USA), Sarah Ryan (IRE), and Céline Larrére (FR). We began our process by rehearsing in-studio at Dance Ireland, Dublin, and Culture D’arbois, located in the Jura mountains close to Geneva. Over a number of weeks, the performers embodied and reinterpreted the details of the language score. The score was also layered with experimental movement practices, that aim to cultivate present moment awareness. A separate voiceover was performed beautifully by Dublin based actresses Aenne Barr and Rebecca Warner. 

I acted as producer and searched for locations in Switzerland where Lucia spent time. I was provided with some archival materials including Swiss German school books from Lucia’s school years, and an old treatment machine from her psychiatric hospital. The school books contained lesson plans about war and nature. I combined these texts with imagery of mountainous landscapes and the dancers’ bodies, to further reference the effects of violence and human destruction of the natural world.

Lucia’s own dancing was also inspired by nature. She created a stunning fish costume for a performance in Paris, as well as playing the role of a tropical vine in a ballet. I worked with a fantastic Dublin-based Italian designer Ivan Moreno Bonica, to redesign these original costumes and other clothing from Lucia’s early life. 

Director of Photography was Will Humphris from England. Will is an extremely experienced cinematographer and I was thrilled to have an opportunity to work with him – plus massive thanks to Zoe at My Management for her support. It was Will’s first time working with dancers, but he remained constantly alert to the changeability of their movements and fully embraced the style of the project. The nature of the choreographic practice meant that both the dancers’ movements and their use of space altered with each take, so the performers and Will had to be extremely creative in their collaborations during the filming process. 

All of the venues, such as hospitals and schools, are still functioning in their original forms. Due to privacy and access limitations, as well as budget constraints, we filmed with a small crew of myself as director, DOP, and the three dance artists, over a nine-day shoot. We began at Lucia’s psychiatric hospital near Geneva, then drove across to Simplon Pass, a mountainous area where the Joyce’s crossed from Italy to Switzerland, Ticino, and finally up to Zurich and the surrounding districts. We filmed in early February, so both travel and filming conditions were a bit extreme at times. The dancers were exposed to varying weather conditions and environments – as well as my driving skills!. They worked diligently to practice the language score whilst remaining present and open to the energetic textures and histories present at each location. 

It was never my intention to create a solely historical account of Lucia’s life, so I didn’t alter the design of the locations much at all. I wanted to allow for a sense of connection between then and now. The buildings are all really stunning in their present conditions, and at Lucia’s school, for example, there was a beautiful display of student’s artwork from modern-day combined with 100-year-old science posters from Lucia’s school years. 

In post-production, I decided to first structure the entire film as a purely visual piece. I wanted each element of the production to have its own creative space and rhythm, before layering everything at the final stages. For me, this way of working adds a layer of tension to the work, which helps to sustain my interest as a viewer. This was quite a slow working process, and I spent a lot of time picking apart the footage before post-production. I worked on the edit with a good friend and wonderful editor / filmmaker José Miguel Jiménez, who I had worked with previously on Medicated Milk. 

A very beautiful and haunting soundtrack was created by Ed Chivers and David Best, two members of the British band Fujiya and Miyagi. The duo worked from extracts of Lucia’s writings and gained further inspiration from songs that she would have sung or played on the piano. As a choreographer, I’m not particularly interested in dance following music or vice versa, so Ed and David didn’t watch any of the footage until the last stages of their creation process. 

Horrible Creature premiered at the IFI in June 2019, and I’m delighted to present it again as part of the First Fortnight Festival. I’ve had an exciting and ongoing relationship with the First Fortnight team since they presented Medicated Milk at the IFI in 2016. I’m also curating a series of dance and wellness workshops in partnership with First Fortnight, Dance Ireland, and Galway Dance Project for the festival in 2020.

Horrible Creature is kindly funded by The Arts Council of Ireland, The Embassy of Ireland in Switzerland, with additional support from Arts & Disability Ireland, Dance Ireland, The James Joyce Centre, The Ticino Film Commission, Zurich James Joyce Foundation, Tanzarchiv Zurich, and FringeLab. Thanks to everyone who offered advice and support during the making of the work. I’d also like to say a big thank you to Sunniva O’ Flynn and the IFI team for their ongoing support of my film work. 


The screening will be followed by a Q&A with director Áine Stapleton.

Book tickets here.




Interview: Áine Stapleton, director of ‘Medicated Milk’










WFT Short Film Showcase


To celebrate International Women’s Day, WFT Ireland, is partnering with the IFI, to host an annual Short Film Showcase. This special screening of WFT Ireland members’ work will take place on Wednesday, 6th March 2019 at 6:30pm.

The films that will screen on the evening include:

Ma (dir. Anne Marie Kelly, 9 mins);

The Girl at the End of the Garden (dir. Bonnie Dempsey, 15 mins);

No Place (dir. Laura Kavanagh, 7 mins);

Catcalls (dir. Kate Dolan, 9 mins);

The Shift (dir. Megan K. Fox, 12 mins);

Siobhan (dir. Maeve Murphy, 10 mins);

Her Name Is… (dir. Lydia McGuinness, 10 mins);

Sea for Yourself (dir. Gráinne Gavigan, 8 mins).


Kenneth Branagh @ IFI


The Irish Film Institute has announced that acclaimed director Kenneth Branagh will visit the IFI on Friday, February 8th to take part in a Q&A following the 18.10 screening of his new film, All Is True. The five-time Oscar nominee will speak with Donald Clarke of The Irish Times.

All Is True explores the human story behind a dark and little known period in the life of William Shakespeare (Kenneth Branagh). The year is 1613 and Shakespeare is the greatest writer of the age. When his beloved Globe Theatre is burned to the ground, he decides to return to his home town of Stratford-upon-Avon. There, he faces his neglected family. Still haunted by the death of his only son, Hamnet, he struggles to mend broken relationships with his wife, Anne (Judi Dench) and daughters. In so doing he is forced to examine his own failings as an absent husband and father. In the search for peace, he must also finally confront the dark heart of his family’s secrets and lies.

Based on an incisive script by Ben Elton, Branagh’s film is a melancholic, restrained portrait of the Bard’s final years.

Tickets, costing €14, are now available at or from the IFI Box Office on 01-6793477.



Paul Bushe & Brian O’Neill, Directors of ‘Killers Within’

Horror fans might be forgiven for thinking they are at the wrong screening when they settle in to watch Killers Within at this year’s IFI annual film celebration of all things horror. Brian O’Neill and Paul Bushe’s feature bursts onto the screen with a gritty opening that seemingly provides the set-up for a crime thriller. A mother is violently attacked and her son taken away from her by a criminal gang. From here the films takes another turn into home invasion territory, as getting him back involves a group of friends and family plotting a tiger kidnapping. Their plan is to get their hands on enough cash to pay for the son’s release. Just when the audience settle in, there’s a seismic shift; things go somewhat haywire as we enter a world of mythological monsters and here is where the horror really kicks in, applied liberally with a double dose of action. It’s not your typical horror and to say much more would take away from the delirious fun that ensues.

Paul explains to Film Ireland that Killers Within is a genre-bashing film. “We initially set out to make a pure horror and it evolved and evolved again as we wrote and rewrote it. It became more thriller and then more action, with touches of sci-fi in there. Then we introduce a different type of villain that is not as prevalent in horror films.”

The bulk of the film takes place in Springfield Castle, Limerick, the home of a wealthy banker and his la-di-da family, who are set upon by Amanda Doyle, together with her ex-husband and three unlikely allies. The cast and crew lived in the Castle for the 10 days of the initial shoot. Brian says, “It was like Evil Dead stuff – where we live; where we shoot. We had a very bizarre existence there. There was no phone signal in the castle and you had to walk around 500 metres down the driveway to get a phone signal. In a way, it was like we were in an alternative reality living in this castle.” In this particular alternative reality, the band of ragtag amateur kidnappers and uppercrust elite family come together with catastrophic results as opposites clash, worlds collide and divides are crossed.

Leading the way is Sue Walsh, who plays Amanda, the Mother of the captive son. Her journey as a character is the stand-out role in the film, from victim to empowerment; she certainly is no damsel in distress, blazing her way through the film with a nutribullet blend of maternal love, unyielding determination and a ready-for-battle steely grit. “She was someone we hadn’t worked with before,” Paul says. “We didn’t know her at all. We did a big casting job and met some really extraordinary actors. It was such a hard thing to cast that lead female role because there’s so many things she has to embody more than anybody else in the film.” Brian explains how “as the protagonist, there was a lot of elements we wanted to hit. And Sue totally pulls that off.”

That’s the good, but what about the bad and the ugly? The monsters that comes to life are certainly impressive creatures but this element wasn’t all plain sailing according to Brian. “Creating the monsters for the film provided one of the biggest challenges. We ended up re-shooting a lot of scenes. We hadn’t anticipated how long it would take. By the time we got actors on set and even though the make-up was great, everyone was just fatigued and they were shot really badly. That’s on us.” Paul adds,”It’s that logistical thing. First time doing a feature like that. Brian had done How to be Happy and myself and Brian had made loads of shorts together and proofs of concept  – but just this kind of animal of a film, with prosthetics, stunts, then it’s raining and finally we had trouble with lighting and logistics on the night. So when we got to the edit, we knew we needed to go back and redo scenes. Thankfully the producer said yes, which was great. We had the opportunity to really rethink how we did it. Really liaise better with our stunt team. Think about make-up more. Just pure logistics really. Like how can we get a stunt actor into the scene? How can we get this done in 20 minutes rather than 8 hours.”

Talking to Paul and Brian it’s obvious they are passionate about film and how horror affords them to a chance to mix it up. Paul speaks about it as being a genre “with the most subgenres… Everything mixes with it and people accept that. They’ll take comedy in their horror, romance, action, whatever it is people will take it with horror.  That’s why Horror is such a broad topic. A lot of the films we like, like Dog Soldiers, From Dusk till Dawn,  they’re all genre-blending horror films. I love my pure horror as well but I love those blending of things. That’s what this film is – taking all these things we love, or are interested in, or find curious and sticking them all in one film together. And horror lets you do that.”

For an Irish horror, Killers Within could be a story told anywhere. “We didn’t want the film to be typical Irish film but there is some Irish in there, particularly in the dialogue,” Brian says. “But yes, the film could be set anywhere in the world. That was important for us making a genre film, not to be too colloquial. Paul goes on, “that’s part of how we write in general. Our influences are international and we write the story we want to see. It’s not specific to a location. This could be in the London, the Hamptons. It could be anywhere. It just happens just happens to be set in Ireland. If you look at English break-out films like Shaun of the Dead, yes they’re set in London or where ever but again that story is universal. The themes are universal.The characters are universal. The monsters are universal. That’s what we wanted to do here.”

If there was ever a PSA against tiger kidnappings, this would be it. Avoid those monsters, buy a lottery ticket, and join us in the IFI for a horrorful bank holiday screaming… I mean screening.


Killers Within screens Sunday, 28th October 2018 at 23.10 at the IFI as part of Horrorthon 2018 (25-29 October)


Aislinn Clarke, Director of ‘The Devil’s Doorway’


In the autumn of 1960, Father Thomas Riley and Father John Thornton were sent by the Vatican to investigate a miraculous event in an Irish home for “fallen women”, They uncovered something much more horrific however, as their attention turned to a 16-year-old pregnant girl exhibiting signs of demonic possession.

Ahead of its screening at this year’s IFI Horrorthon, David Prendeville spoke to director Aislinn Clarke about her debut feature, The Devil’s Doorway.


How did the idea come about to make a film set in the Magdalene laundries and then how did it come about that it would be a found footage film?

In the initial stage the producer came to me. There was no script or anything at that point. He had an idea and he gave me a page-long pitch which was to do a modern-day horror partly set in an abandoned Magdalene laundry and shot on mostly GoPro so it would have been more like something like Grave Encounters. My feeling was that I didn’t think that was the film that I wanted to make but I felt there was something interesting to be done with the Magdalene laundries. I thought if you’re going to do a film about the Magdalene laundries you should go back to the ’60s, when there was the most people there and get into the heart of the human drama of those places rather than having the girls as spectres now as a kind of afterthought. I think all good horror has in its heart real human drama. I think it shouldn’t come afterwards, it should be the primary concern. If you look at something like Hereditary, it started out like a family drama and then came in the horror elements, not the other way around so I felt that would be the strongest way to do it. I’m a big horror fan, I watch everything. I know how much found footage there is out there and I know how much of it is really bad. Some of it is really good but even the really good stuff gets lost because there’s so much of it and so much of it so similar. I felt if you’re going to do one it needs to feel totally different. It needs to be bringing something new to that subgenre. So I thought you do something that found footage films don’t normally do, which is make it about something. It’s not just about how scary it is. I enjoy films like those too, I enjoyed Grave Encounters, Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity. I enjoyed those films but I felt this needed to be about something and I felt it was very obvious what it needs to be about. Then if we set it in the 1960s then we have to shoot on 16mm film because that’s how they would’ve done it.


How difficult was it to convince people that it needed to be shot on 16mm?

Really hard. Myself and the DoP Ryan Kernaghan had both shot on film previously together and separately so we’re both pretty used to that process. We shot some test stuff on different formats to illustrate how aesthetically different they were. To illustrate how much a film filter doesn’t trick you into feeling like its real film and if you’re selling something as found footage it needs to feel like an authentic document. You can’t just put a filter on top because they’re repetitive. They’re not organic. Subconsciously you can tell it doesn’t feel right. It will have repetitive flaws that would never happen on real film so we were able to convince them that this has such a nice aesthetic that was separate to everything else that we should do that. The concession we had in the end was that we would shoot anything that needed VFX digitally and match it up in the grade. That was in case there might be flaws on the film that would prevent us doing the VFX or that certainly would’ve made it harder and much more expensive to do. So that’s what we did. Ryan also got a good deal. He got a bunch of stock somewhere, really cheap. Some of the stock we used was expired. We used that for stuff we knew we didn’t need for the story but that was nice scene setting stuff. Some of it made into the finished film and it actually looks really good.


Did you feel as director that working within the found footage genre allowed in some ways for more creativity in how you approached certain scenes? I’m thinking of the birthing scene in particular here. It really stands out as being very powerful in the way that it utilises the found footage element to render the scene differently to the way it would be in other films.

It’s funny because it’s simultaneously limiting and freeing to have the constraints of found footage. You’ve only got a single camera so you can’t do things like get coverage for a scene. For the birthing scene in particular that suited me because I always knew how I wanted to do that scene. I always wanted it to be just her face. I was thinking of Dreyer’s Joan of Arc or Godard’s Vivre sa Vie. I was thinking also that there’s a tendency in modern films to show too much and there’s a weirdly prosaic effect. People are so used to being shown everything when it comes to gore and violence and all the rest that it has no effect. It just kind of washes over. But there’s something very uncomfortable about just watching a human face for an extended period of time. Also, what you do in your mind is going to be a lot more powerful than what you are seeing. There were conversations about coverage but I was adamant that that was how I wanted to shoot it. It also wouldn’t make sense within the story for it to be shot as if the priests were shooting it, as neither of them would do that. Neither of them could be in this room while that’s happening. This was the best way to do it. It’s my favourite scene in the film and I had to fight for it. I think it works. So yes, in a way found footage does have that thing that there are constraints but that the constraints are weirdly freeing. We also have conversations that are like monologues to camera with Father Thomas in particular. If that was shot in a more conventional way you would have reverses and show the other character and that takes a lot longer to film so that helped us film more quickly, as well as having done a lot of rehearsals before stepping on set. I think there’s a lot to be said for just a still camera. People move around a lot these days and there’s a lot of frenetic editing that’s fashionable. I like to just let a performance happen.


I understand you had three locations for the film? I also heard that the roof fell down in one of them the day after filming?

(Laughs) Yeah, that’s right. So the location we used for the church was actually the dining hall in a lovely mansion house in Belfast, formerly belonging to Lord Craigavon. Nobody had lived in it since the ’30s though it had been used as a hospital during the war. The day after we left the roof fell in. The house was kind of falling apart anyway. But it was kind of strange, if you wanted to read into things. People ask me about ghosts but I don’t really believe in ghosts. I wish I did, I think it’s a lot fun but I don’t. I think there was something else about one of the insurance documents had 666 engraved in it or something like that. There were theories flying around about a curse but, touch wood, I don’t think so.


The film has excellent performances in it as well. Could you tell me a bit about the casting process?

We auditioned everybody, particularly because the two executive producers were in LA. They wanted to see tapes. Helena, who plays the Mother Superior, I already knew and had my eye on. My husband and I both work in the theatre and he had worked with Helena there. I’d seen her in a few things. I had my eye on her but we did audition other people as well. Ciaran, who plays Father John, again I had my eye on him from theatre. We auditioned very widely. In the first round the producers were unsure about him but I knew he was right for the role. I think his first audition was a self-tape because he was in London or somewhere at the time. When I finally got him to come into the room with me, he nailed it. Then Lalor fell slightly outside of the age group that the casting director, Carla Strong, had for the role. Just you know you pick an age range and he happened to be slightly out of it. So he wasn’t in the first net we hauled in. But he heard about the project from a friend of his. He got in touch with me saying he’d really like to audition for this. It just struck something. So he came on down to my office. Again we had seen loads of people for that role and nobody was quite right. We had seen loads of people that were really good but not quite right. Lalor came down and just knocked it out of the park instantly. He was brilliant. Then in relation to Lauren who plays Kathleen, we had a different actor cast originally but due to scheduling problems she had to drop out during the shoot. We were literally already shooting when Lauren came down to audition. She auditioned on the set and that’s how she got the role. We shot the whole thing in 16 days and shot Lauren’s stuff in the second week.

Are there any films that particularly influenced you for the project?

Yeah that’s an interesting one. People assume that I’d be looking at stuff like The Blair Witch Project for something like this because it’s found footage but actually that’s not how I approach films anyway. Then you’re just repeating yourself or repeating somebody else. This is not really like that. It’s found footage but it’s no more like it than any other genre film. I was really thinking about the time, the mode of shooting, those sort of things so I was looking at a lot of documentaries from the early ’60s. In particular I was looking at The Maysles Brothers, cinema verite documentaries, stuff like Salesman because even the way you handle the camera, all of that, is going to effect the aesthetic of a film like this and it’s going to be totally different to how they handle the camera in Blair Witch. Its different equipment and of course they have the audio equipment too. Father John in the film doesn’t know he’s making a found-footage horror film, he thinks he’s making a documentary so that was the style I was trying to emulate.


What do you plan for your next film?

I have a couple of things in the works so, with different producers, so it’s just about seeing what comes together first in terms of financing. I’m working on a film with Fantastic Films so we’ll see where that goes. It’s in the horror genre again, I tend to gravitate toward horror or if it’s not horror, thriller or something dark. I’m attached also to direct a story that I haven’t written that’s a Bloody Mary origin story. I also have a folk-horror in development with a producer in London.

The Devils Doorway screens Friday, 26th October 2018 at 18.20 at the IFI as part of Horrorthon 2018 (25-29 October) 


EUNIC’s Short Shorts @ IFI

Ten stories, three locations: Short Shorts brings international short films to the IFI

Event details: Monday 5 November, 6.30pm, IFI (free)

After screening at Galway Film Fleadh on 11 July, EUNIC’s Short Shorts from Europe Film Festival will make its second stop on 5 November at the Irish Film Institute (IFI). Seven from this collection of ten short films will compete for an audience award and each of EUNIC’s film festival partners will screen a nominated short.

Admission is free but booking is required @

Having been awarded the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 label, Short Shorts brings to the public some of the best European short films across many diverse genres such as animation, drama and documentary. Through its selection, EUNIC Ireland showcases a variety of stories such as memories from the start of a love affair, the all too realness of photos, a humorous look at austerity in cities, and that familiar urban legend of the disappearance of socks.

The short films competing for an audience vote are:

  • Pix by Sophie Linnenbaum (supported by the Goethe-Institut)
  • Clanker Man by Ben Steiner & Dan Nixon (supported by the British Council)
  • La primera vez que te vi by Guillermo Tirado & Daniel Tirado (supported by Instituto Cervantes Dublin / AECID)
  • Made in France by Maxime Guerry, Brice Dublé, Lamia Akhbbarn, Robin Cioffi, Stanislas Gruenais & Alexia Portal (supported by the Alliance Française / The French Embassy)
  • Time Traveller by Steve Kenny (supported by Culture Ireland)
  • Abgestempelt (Punched) by Michael Rittmannsberger (supported by the Austrian Embassy)
  • Here Cometh The Moon by Giulia di Battista & Gloria Kurnik (supported by Istituto Italiano di Cultura).

Short Shorts also brings three films out of competition to the IFI:

  • My Mother Is My Priest by Linda Bhreathnach (supported by the Galway Film Fleadh)
  • The Wedding Speech by Joe McStravick (supported by the Cork Film Festival)
  • Páistí Ag Obair by Louis Marcus (supported by the Irish Film Institute).

EUNIC’s Short Shorts from Europe Film Festival will next screen at the Cork Film Festival on 12 November.


Review of Irish Film @ Galway Film Fleadh: IFI Local Films for Local People: Yet More Glimpses of Galway


Deirdre de Grae steps back in time at IFI Local Films for Local People: Yet More Glimpses of Galway, which screened at the 29th Galway Film Fleadh.


This unique cine-concert event was a curated by the Irish Film Institute (IFI) in collaboration with the National Museum of Ireland (NMI). IFI archivist, Sunniva O’Flynn, and NMI curator, Clodagh Doyle introduced their selection of short films with a wealth of in-depth knowledge, and were generous with the enlightening background information on each film.

This screening was a musical treat, as the silent films were accompanied by live fiddle player, Deirdre Ní Chonghaile. Deirdre is from the Aran islands, and carefully paired each traditional tune with the archive films, so that the music was relevant to the film’s content, time and place. The production of this archive presentation was thoughtful, well researched and a culturally enriching experience. The screening was a part of the IFI ‘Local Films for Local People’ – a nationwide tour of IFI archive films, shown in the regions where they were made. More details here:

The IFI archive films screened included: ‘The Electrification of Conamara’ (Colm Ó Laoighre, Gael Linn); ‘The All Ireland Championship Football Final’ (NFI); ‘Galway Bay Aircrash‘ (Movietone newsreel); and ‘The New Matchmakers‘ (Radharc). The silent films, curated by the NMI, included: depictions of agricultural life in rural Co. Galway; documentary footage of the Aran islands; and some ‘home movies’ of summer holidays in Co. Galway.

‘The Electrification of Conamara’ is a short newsreel piece, which was part of the Amharc Eireann series, directed and produced by Colm Ó Laoghaire for Gael Linn. This piece is in the Irish language and was shown in the Galway Film Fleadh without subtitles. The short film shows the introduction of electricity to rural Conamara, and was originally screened in cinemas around Ireland before feature films, in the 1960s.  These Gael Linn films are culturally significant and are currently archived in the IFI, with some available to view on the IFI player.  Colm Ó Laoghaire produced over two hundred and sixty editions of Amharc Eireann. The topics he covered were ‘Irish interest’ magazine and news stories – their preservation at the IFI provide a window into contemporary Irish life during the Whittaker and Lemass eras. A comprehensive history of the series by Dr. Mairead Pratschke, ‘A Look at Irish-Ireland: Gael Linn’s Amharc Eireann Films, 1956-64‘, is available to read and was used in the research for this article.

Amharc Eireann presented the Irish landscape, (focussing on historical and geographical sites) as the ‘locus of national identity and the repository of national culture’ (Pratschke). The eagráin or ‘issues’ (the producers referred to each series episode as an ‘eagrán’ (issue)-usually used for magazines) were presented as history lessons, which could be doubled up as promotional tools for heritage tourism. The key difference between these films and Bord Failte’s are the target demographic: Amharc Eireann promoted Ireland and its culture to the Irish people, rather than the international market.

This series by Gael Linn was a significant milestone in Irish filmmaking, and moreso Irish language filmmaking, as it was the first regular indigenous cinema newsreel since the ‘Irish Events’ series of the 1920s. Prior to Amharc Eireann, there had never been an Irish-language documentary or news-film series of any kind made or shown in Irish cinemas. Irish cinema audiences were shown only foreign productions on screen. Even the newsreels that preceded the main features were limited to those distributed by the British company, Rank Film Distributors. Rank began to include the Amharc Eireann films, for no fee, whereas the Irish film distributors contacted all required a fee – Gael Linn had a restricted budget and so went with the British distributor. By 1959, television had come to Britain and, shortly after, Rank withdrew its newsreels from Irish cinemas, which resulted in more Irish cinema screentime for Gael Linn. In 1959, the home-grown newsreel was produced weekly and expanded to include four separate news stories. The series continued until 1964 when television as a means of relaying news to the Irish population rendered the newsreel obsolete.

Copyright Radharc Trust 2010

‘The New Matchmakers’ (Radharc)

This documentary from the Catholic priest-led ‘Radharc’ production company, is a trove of hilarious moments that would fuel another season of Father Ted scripts. Although made relatively recently (1960s), the changes in Irish culture have been so vast, that it seems to be from another era. The focus of this documentary was ‘The Cupid of the West’- a matchmaking priest who set out to educate the young men of rural Ireland in the means of finding a wife. He tackled the issue in a direct manner, organising classes on ‘how to shave’ and ‘how to go on a date’, taught by a lady to a classroom of young  farming men. He also conducted hands-on, practical tutorials, in which he demonstrated correct dancing techniques to equip the young people to find a match at the local dances. These scenes caused peals of laughter from the audience in Town Hall Theatre, as well as awkward giggles from the young subjects on screen.

This concept in itself is hilarious to the current viewer, but was based in a genuine concern about the economic effects of depopulation of the rural west of Ireland, specifically the depopulation of young women. The film addressed this topic in a segment titled: “Where are all the young girls gone?”, in which we see happy, carefree, independent women working in Dublin – most reluctant to return to the country life they left behind. Meanwhile, in the west of Ireland, we are introduced to ‘poor Jimmy’, who lives alone and is too lazy to cook for himself (he farms potatoes but doesn’t have the wherewithal to cook them, so subsists on ‘smash’), with no woman to rescue him from his own incompetence.

Founded in 1959, Radharc is considered one of Ireland’s most important independent documentary production companies. The team made over 400 documentaries which were screened on RTÉ, Ireland’s national broadcaster, between 1961 and 1996. The Radharc cameras shone a light onto a changing Ireland and recorded values, rural and urban traditions that no longer exist. Unfortunately ‘The New Matchmakers’ is not available to view on the IFI player, but other Radharc programmes are

Further archive films can be watched on the IFI player, for free, here

Be warned, you may lose hours here!


‘IFI Local Films for Local People: Yet More Glimpses of Galway’ screened on Wednesday, 12th July 2017, as part of the 29th Galway Film Fleadh (11 – 16 July).