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Saturday 17 March 2018

Gleeson seals deal to shoot O'Brien classic

Brian Hutton

ACTOR Brendan Gleeson has secured funding to make a film of Flann O'Brien's masterpiece 'At Swim-Two-Birds'.

The signing of a movie co-production treaty between Ireland and Luxembourg is expected to bring in funding for the €7.5m project.

The deal was sealed over the weekend at the Galway Film Fleadh. Ireland's Cultural Ambassador, actor Gabriel Byrne -- whose name has been linked to the film along with Colin Farrell and Cillian Murphy -- said the agreement would ensure the film's release.

"What exciting possibilities will be born out of this co-production treaty including the film 'At Swim-Two-Birds', to be directed by the visionary Brendan Gleeson, which I have no doubt will find a worldwide audience," he said in a letter to Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan.

'At Swim-Two-Birds' was first published in 1939. Written by Brian O'Nolan, under the pseudonym Flann O'Brien, it tells the tale of a student who comes across the characters he creates for a play in the real world.

Gleeson has been seeking funding for the project over the past number of years, along with Irish company Parallel Films and Luxembourg-based producer Jani Thiltes. Gleeson has adapted the novel for the big screen and is expected to direct and star in the film. Some private investment is being sought, and production is expected to begin next year.

While a location has not been finalised, it is expected the film will be shot in Ireland.

Mr Deenihan, who signed the deal in Galway, said the film treaty between Ireland and Luxembourg would help filmmakers tap into incentives and subsidies from both countries.

"Co-production is of vital importance to the financing of the majority of Irish films and television production," he said. "For a country the size of Ireland there is no better way in which to raise international investment for projects of scale and it is fundamental to the way the industry is structured."

Recent Luxembourg-Irish co-productions include 'The Runway'; while 'Love Eternal', directed by Brendan Muldowney, is to begin production in August.

Meanwhile, Martin Sheen made a return to Galway yesterday where he chatted with the public about his illustrious career.

The former star of 'The West Wing' was back in the city where he spent a term studying at NUI Galway five years ago.

Irish Independent

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