At the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival, Lenny Abrahamson’s Room was the winner of the Grolsch People’s Choice Award, recognition from the TIFF audience that begun Room‘s journey to Oscar-winning success. One year later, the Irish film industry continues to receive international spotlight, with three major films supported by support of Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board (IFB) being selected for this year’s edition of the prestigious Canadian film festival.
Receiving its world premiere at the festival is Jim Sheridan’s new film The Secret Scripture, which stars Rooney Mara, Vanessa Redgrave and Irish actors Jack Reynor (Sing Street fans rejoice) and Aidan Turner. Also selected were Unless by Alan Gilsenan (The Yellow Bittern, Eliza Lynch: Queen of Paraguay), based on the final novel by Canadian author Carol Shields, as well as a new film from Irish filmmaker Aisling Walsh (Song for a Raggy Boy), Maudie, which stars Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke.
The Secret Scripture was filmed on location in Dublin and Kilkenny, with some scenes shot on Dollymount Strand and Portrane Beach. The film tells the story of Lady Rose, an elderly woman who reveals her story of extraordinary love and great injustice and is ‘the story of a remarkable young woman of courage whose only crime was to fall in love’.Commenting on The Secret Scripture‘s selection, director Jim Sheridan said “It was so good to be back home to make this film. I loved bringing Sebastian Barry’s moving novel to the big screen and I feel honoured for the freedom he gave me. Irish novels and stories are loved by people all over the world. Like Robbie Brady, I hope we can hit the back of the net with this one like Room and Brooklyn did. Fingers crossed. I’m also delighted to have a chance to bring the amazing cast back together for the world premiere.”
Maudie will have a gala presentation at the festival and tells the unlikely love story of folk artist Maudie Lewis. The film sees a curmudgeonly miser hire a tiny disfigured woman to be his housekeeper, who goes on becomes a well loved folk artist. The film was produced by Parallel Films, which previously produced Brooklyn and The Siege of Jadoville.
Commenting on the selection director Aisling Walsh said “I am absolutely delighted that MAUDIE has been selected to screen at TIFF. This film has been a passion project of mine since I first came across the story of Maud Lewis and her Painted House. Maud’s passion for painting and her love of life despite her disabilities is a story that I found so inspiring.”
Unless stars Catherine Keener of Being John Malkovich and Into the Wild, playing a mother whose eldest daughter suddenly drops out of college, runs from the family and is found on a Toronto street corner, with a hand-lettered cardboard sign reading ‘Goodness’ on her chest. The story follows her family as they struggle first to ‘rescue’ Norah, then attempt to understand what led her to make this decision. Unless is produced by Subotica with support from the IFB.
Commenting on the news, director Alan Gilsenan said “I’m delighted that “Unless” will have its world premiere in Toronto. It’s seems fitting somehow that the film will be screened first in the city in which the story is set, but I’m sorry that the wonderful Carol Shields – upon whose best-selling book it’s based – isn’t still around to see it.”
The Toronto International Film Festival takes place from the 8th-18th September 2016.