Wednesday 23 January 2019

Film awards leave Carmel floating like a butterfly

Kanturk writer wins 'Discovery' award at Toronto International Film Festival

Maria Herlihy

A Kanturk playwright has scooped a major award for her film, 'Float Like a Butteryfly', at the recently held Toronto International Film Festival. 

The director, Carmel Winters, picked up the accolade from the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) for the Discovery programme. 

It was filmed in West Cork, and it tells the story of a girl's fight for freedom and belonging. In a gender-reversal of the classic film, 'Billy Elliot, a 15 year-old Frances (played by Hazel Doupe) has to fight for the right to fight back. Raised in roadside camps in rural Ireland, Frances wants to champion her people inside the boxing ring and out, like her idol Muhammand Ali, but society is determined to break her spirit and destroy her way of life. 

In a previous interview with The Corkman, Carmel outlined with great humour that she is the second youngest of 12 children and said her entire life has been one "unfolding daily drama."

She said that she was always interested in what makes people tick, and how relationships flourish or fail, and she has a keen sense of those unseen bombs ticking away in the background. 

Growing up in a house with 12 children, finding a quiet corner to write was simply not on the cards. She said again with great humour, "I didn't even have a bed to myself, and you could say that I lived in a constant drama and saw plays unfolding before me all the time." 

Carmel's father was the late and very well known bookie, Dennis while her brother is the well known champion horse trainer, Michael Winters. 

She readily acknowledged that Duhallow has a "dark sense of humour" but she always felt that the tougher things became - they in equal measure - became funnier. 

"Growing up, I do think that my teachers did see the writer in me. I had the ability to describe things and make the invisible visible," he said.  She studied Drama and English at Trinity College. 

Accepting her award in Toronto, she said: "We couldn't have wished for an audience more capable to opening their hearts and witnessing our film. I can't believe the jury chose to see our film in such a loving way as to give us this recognition. I am so grateful to you all. To the travelling women of Ireland, the travelling people of Ireland, thanks for trusting me with your story." 

Carmel is no stranger to showcasing her talent when she wrote Snap, which was described as a 'master class in storytelling,' and for which picked up a host of awards at the International A-list festivals, including Critic's choice.

Other plays which have gathered a lot of attention, include Witness, Best Man, and 'B is for Baby' which won the Irish Times Award for Best New Play. She also wrote, The Remains of Maisie Duggan. Carmel was the Film Artist in Residence (Screenwriter) 2014-2015 at UCC by UCC and the Arts Council.