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Thursday 30 March 2017

Irish films vie for Cannes honour

Sean Penn from Paolo Sorrentino's English language debut This Must Be The Place. Photo: PA
Sean Penn from Paolo Sorrentino's English language debut This Must Be The Place. Photo: PA

Ed Carty

A film starring two-time Oscar winner Sean Penn leads the bill of Irish movies vying for success at this week's Cannes Film Festival.

This Must Be The Place, shot in Dublin and the US last year, is one of 19 films from around the world battling for the coveted Palme d'Or prize.

Louise Ryan, Irish Film Board (IFB) spokeswoman, said Penn's movie was a leading contender for a top award.

"It is definitely in the running and it is directed by Italian Paolo Sorrentino, a previous winner of the Palme d'Or, and he has a very strong reputation at Cannes," she said.

This Must Be The Place, which gets its world premiere at Cannes, tells the story of former rock star Cheyenne, played by Penn.

Aged 50 he still dresses as a goth and lives in Dublin off his royalties. The death of his father, who he had fallen out with, brings him back to New York where he embarks on a journey at his own pace to find his father's persecutor, a Nazi war criminal hiding out in the US.

Cannes runs from May 11 to 22 and a total of 16 Irish films will be on the market.

A second film in competition is The Other Side Of Sleep, by young director Rebecca Daly and filmed in Offaly last year.

It tells the story of Arlene, a sleepwalker since childhood, who works in the local factory and how she deals with the death of a young woman in nearby woods.

It will be shown as part of the Directors' Fortnight and hopes to follow in the footsteps of comedian Pat Shortt's success back in 2007.

Ms Ryan said: "Having these two films in shows the versatility and diversity of film in Ireland."

Midnight in Paris, a romantic comedy by Woody Allen, will open Cannes on Wednesday.

The IFB is supporting a larger than usual set of Irish-shot films showcasing at Cannes. Among the 16 movies is Albert Knobbs starring Hollywood great Glenn Close.

Ireland is also strongly represented in the documentary genre with Knuckle, directed by Ian Palmer, following underground bare knuckle boxing which is expected to announce a big distribution deal in the coming weeks.

Other documentaries are Off The Beaten Track, directed by Dieter Auner, telling the story of shepherding across Europe, vying for business and Children Of The Revolution directed by Shane O'Sullivan.

The IFB is also hoping Magma Films animated feature Legends Of Valhalla - Thor can build on the success of animators in previous years.

Ms Ryan added: "The films that Cannes has picked showcase the diverse range of work that the Irish film industry is very successful at."

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