I’m not one to exaggerate, but Ann Calin Sisin might be the best, most complete and satisfying Irish film yet made. Based on the Claire Keegan story Foster, Colm Barred’s quiet, lyrical play addresses themes of childhood, grief and loneliness in extravagant and unsatisfying fashion, never mind the fact that its story was told as Gelge. has gone.
Furthermore, it provides an insight into a more recent but very different Ireland in which children were numerous and consequently undervalued, sometimes not preserved at all. In recent times, there has been a fair amount of criticism of the church and state for its historical inhumanity towards children. But the people were also cruel and indifferent to the needs and sensibility of the youth.
A Cailin Ciúin Katherine Clinch as Kath, a quiet, anxious nine-year-old girl of the title whose home life isn’t ideal. It’s 1981 and her kind but overprotective mother is expecting another child, while her unassuming and carefree father continues to gamble and drink any money that comes her way. As of birth, Kat is considered surplus to necessities and is sent to live with her mother’s cousin, Eiblin (Carrie Crowley).
Eiblin and her husband Sean (Andrew Bennett) have no children and are strangers to Kat, who is at sea in a strange house and can expect the worst. Instead, she finds kindness, peace, and a loving understanding that she has never experienced before. Even Sean, an aloof and stubborn farmer, warms to the sweet and attentive Cat, but Sean and Aiblin are hiding a sad secret that the little girl is about to uncover.
Even before the release, A Cailin Ciúin Garlands have been showered, winning awards at the Berlin and Dublin film festivals and Best Film, Director and Actor at Iftas. Is Bairad taken aback by its reception?
“I mean, it definitely exceeded our expectations,” he says. “Going to Berlin was a big deal for us – I think we were the first Irish-language feature film to be selected there, and just to be selected felt like a huge honor for us, and then Had actually won some awards there too. And then, with our reception at the Dublin Film Festival, and with Iftas, the last three months have just been a whirlwind.
“But to me, a big part of all of that is testament to the story present in Claire Keegan’s original work, which she told. Obviously there is work to be done in terms of translating that into a film that works and Which adds up, but to me it looks like we’ve been able to translate the emotional power that Keegan managed to generate in his work.
He remembers being “flooded, deeply moved” by Keegan’s story. foster He read it for the first time.
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“Straight up, there was something about her prose that felt innately visual,” he says. “I was approaching this from a filmmaker’s point of view and reading it as a potential subject to adapt, but every image and every beat of the story just felt more adaptable. While I was reading this I Could watch the film taking shape in my mind.
“But really, it was the emotional aspect, especially how it ends, and I think this movie is going to have an impact on people as well — if ever there was a story that’s about an ending, it’s this one.” I was in tears reading the book and so, for me, the challenge was how to honor the experience that I have just had as a reader on screen. The other aspect of this that fascinated me was the fragments In the silence and conflict that we as people are communicating emotionally.
without giving anything A Cailin CiúinThe major theme of The Story rests on a painful secret that, although revealed in some ways, is never openly talked about. “And that was really fascinating to me, and such an interesting challenge as a filmmaker,” Baird says, “how do you take on a story that is so unbelievable on the plot and where things are so untold. , and it’s all about the subtext. How do you transfer that into a working film that the audience can connect with?”
First, find yourself an exceptional child actress. “We feel so blessed that Katherine came into our lives, to be honest, because she was really the only person I felt could play the role,” Barred says. “We started giving auditions pre-Covid, we had open, physical auditions. We didn’t have an actual casting director, it was just me and the producer, my wife, Cleona née Churlao, just to save money.
“And because we’re Irish speakers, we thought, well, we’ll have an ear for someone who has command of the language and so on. So we naively chose to do it ourselves.
“So we started auditioning and we were focusing specifically on Munster because we were looking for someone with Munster Irish that matches the dialect where the family lives. But then Covid hit , and we widened the net and looked for self tapes from all the Gelskoils around the country. Then came Katherine’s tapes and when I first saw her, it was really clear that she had what the character needed. .
In a role that requires her to be at the center of the frame for almost the entire film, Clinch Cat is quite extraordinary as the quiet heart of this soulful and ultimately heartbreaking film. “I never thought it would get so much attention,” says Clinch, who is now 12.
“Even when I got the role, I thought it was the film that some people in Ireland would see, but it’s so crazy that so many people are watching it and reacting like that. “
Crazier still is the fact that this is Clinch’s first time on screen. “I had never been in a film before, but I did drama classes when I was younger,” she says. “When I saw a little bit of the script given to me for the audition, I knew immediately it was a good story.”
And was it hard to put yourself inside the head of a very different kind of little girl from Ireland? “Not really, because some things with Kat and me, like our personalities, are really similar.”
But Catherine found Kat’s situation disturbing. “The way Kat was treated and what she did was quite surprising to me because we would never do that again.”
He found life on the sets of the film quite challenging. “There was a lot going on, especially because of covid and stuff, you had to wear a mask and they were constantly checking your temperature and stuff, so it was pretty stressful.”
Not that you would know to see the clinch on the screen.
“Most of the time I just believed in him,” says Barred. “I believed she understood what was happening in the scene, and there were very few times where I really had to push her through the number of takes or anything like that. She was really remarkable. If you look at each performance, I’d say her takes were less than everyone else. But she just has this inner resolve, you know, and there’s an emotional intelligence about her. She really understood the character.
in a calm manner, A Cailin Ciúin There is an implicit allegation of a toxic national attitude towards childhood. At one point, a neighbor asked Iblin if nine-year-old Kat “couldn’t be hired”.
Baird says, “I’m glad you’re picking it up, because even though it’s not a critique of film institutions or anything like that, I hope there’s a film that’s very aware of its background.” and of the society that was there.
“I became a father only two years before I studied foster For the first time, again, the difference between how kids are treated now and that time felt so much more obvious because you’re just wondering how you might think of kids in that sense – that attitude. How can it exist and how can it exist?
“And it was part of the impulse to tell a story, to give a voice to a young child or girl, from an era when kids often didn’t have a voice. There was something in that, about empowering this character that was really I was attracted to me.”
The essence of Kat’s charm as a character is how much she sees, how little she says. But all the time you can see his thinking.
“Yeah, she’s essentially turned all that stuff inward, and I think that’s what’s great about Katherine’s performance,” Baird says. “Although she’s not saying much, you can see that there’s still an extraordinarily active mind and heart inside this girl, and Katherine just carries all that stuff on the inside.
“The bur camera is this X-ray machine, you know — it’ll always find it.”
A Kellyn Sisin is released next Friday, May 13