Sunday 4 December 2016

This winters tale springs a surprise

Edel Coffey

Published 02/04/2011 | 05:00

When Carmel Winters presented her play, B For Baby, at the Peacock Theatre last year, it was one of those thought-provoking pieces that left audiences either loving it or hating it.

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The play told the story of two characters, B and D, both residents in a psychiatric unit, and how they approached relationships and sex in that environment.

Now Winters has moved from the stage to the screen as she releases her debut feature film debut, Snap.

This dark tale will solidify Winters' reputation as a director who pushes boundaries as she explores the darkest most, disturbing corners of our humanity.

"I look for the shady, private areas that people don't find public representations of," Winters says.

"I'm hugely interested in ambivalence, in people's private internal worlds.

"There's lots of things that people feel no one else knows, experiences that can't be spoken about or shown and that makes me want to do it," she adds.

The story of Snap centres around Stephen (superbly acted by the young Stephen Moran), a 15-year-old victim of sexual abuse who abducts a toddler for five days. Does Winters expect some level of controversy regarding her treatment of the subject?

"I would be delighted if [the film] promotes a more mature debate, if it allows for the breadth of people's experience to be honoured.

"A 15-year-old boy who was sexually abused by the only person who took 'good care' of him, the one person who loved him, that's a far greater burden for him to carry than the sensationalised demonised story.

"It's a much greater story for him to sift through that and wonder what he'll be like as carer of young people or his fears about who he might become."

As with B For Baby, Winters uses Snap to take an unflinching look at those murkier aspects of our personal lives and of society that make most of us want to look away.

One such moment portrays a sex scene between the late Mick Lally and Aisling O'Sullivan's character, Sandra. Lally's ageing naked body presents us, unexpectedly, with our own mortality.

"The whole film is concerned with our frailty, our soft-shell state.

"There's been a huge response to the scene between Mick Lally and Aisling O'Sullivan; lots of people said they couldn't watch it," says Winters.

"People have asked me 'how did you get Mick Lally to do that?' I didn't have to do anything to get him to do it, apart from write the script and he relished it, the artist in him really relished the prospect of offering something in that way."

The film has already garnered rave reviews and won 'Best Irish Film' and 'Best Irish Director' at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.

It has also been premiered at New York's Tribeca competition, the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in the Czech Republic (where it picked up the Variety Critic's Choice Award).

All this praise begs the question: will Winters now move into film-making full time? She says not a chance.

"There's no way I'd give up one in favour of the other. I'm saved from despair about the possibilities of either medium by working in both.

"For me, the main thing is if it has been done and done well by someone else, I don't want to do it."

Snap opens Friday, April 8

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