Monday 19 March 2018

Exploring freedoms 'taken for granted'

'Sanctuary' explores the love story of Larry and Sophie, in a world trying to keep them apart

Jessica Farry

"It's just about the freedoms that we all take for granted," says Director Len Collin when speaking about the film 'Sanctuary', which hit Sligo's Omniplex last Friday evening.

Collin, a native of Easkey, has worked with Galway's Blue Teapot Theatre Company for some time, and feels that this film can bring issues of those with disabilities to the fore of society.

Earlier this year, the decriminalisation of people with intellectual disabilities engaging in sexual relationships (unless married) was largely welcomed.

This change in the law was welcomed by many, but none more-so than Director Len Collin, who may have played a bigger part in the changes than he realises.

'Sanctuary', a production by Zanzibar Films in association with Blue Teapot Theatre Company is set in the world of people with intellectual disabilities, focusing on Larry and Sophie, two people who long to be together in a world that does everything to keep them apart.

Director Collin, who hails from Easkey, explains the plot as follows:

"The film is about two characters, Larry who has Down Syndrome and Sophie who has epilepsy and with that an intellectual disability.

"It's a very funny film. There's a group of people on a day out from a day centre and they escape to hotel room after they've asked their carer to help them out.

"So the carer just kind of assumes they will just have a cup of tea and maybe a little cuddle but they are intending much more to happen.

"Things start to escalate then. Two lads go to the pub, some others go off shopping. These people with intellectual disabilities are always being watched," he told The Sligo Champion.

And Len feels that along with work by Inclusion Ireland, that 'Sanctuary' may have played its part in the repeal of this law.

"Under the Criminal act, it was illegal for two people with such disabilities to engage in a sexual relationship.

"The film really brought the issue to the fore, but Inclusion Ireland have done a lot of work on this."

Casting was not a problem, as most of the actors had featured in the stage production of the film. Blue Teapot Theatre Company is a theatre company and performing arts school for people with intellectual disabilities.

"I've worked with all of these people before when it was originally a play. When I saw the play, I actually didn't know about the law either. The guys in the Blue Teapot Theatre Company are brilliant actors. It's not like Forrest Gump or anything like that.

"They are such a joy to work with, they're always trying to give you what you ask of them and if they don't understand then they will ask, and if they don't like it then they will tell you.

"What you want is your director to have your back and they make it much easier. That attitude is really great and these guys don't have the same sense of embarrassment which is a much better way of working. It's essentially the same cast. Even the guy who played the care worker is there as well, there are a few extra parts. I was conscious that people in the cast would have worked with Blue Teapot Theatre before, or even worked with me."

Having worked with the theatre company previously, Len was an obvious choice as the director. He has acted as screenwriter for years, and has written for television shows such as 'Eastenders', 'The Bill', 'The Clinic, and more.

'Sanctuary' has featured at film festivals across the world, and the reaction so far has been all positive, he says.

"It's been shown at film festivals all around the world. It's been really well received. It's been shown at festivals in places like New York, Sydney, Rome, Toronto, Melbourne and lots more.

"I was concerned about how it would be received in countries where English is not the first language but it actually translates quite well," he added.

Sligo Champion