#Interview: Scannain Talks Rosie with director Paddy Breathach

Paddy Breathnach’s latest film, Rosie, had its European Premiere last night at Light House Cinema in Dublin. The film is Breathnach’s first since being Oscar shortlisted for Viva.

Rosie tells the story of a mother trying to protect her family after their landlord sells their rented home and they become homeless. Over 36 hours, Rosie and her partner John Paul strive to find somewhere to stay while shielding their young family from the reality of the situation around them. Rosie examines how even in times of crises; the love and strength of a family can endure.

The film explores the quietly apocalyptic ramifications of Ireland’s housing crisis, and has a screenplay by celebrated Irish novelist Roddy Doyle (The Commitments, The Snapper), his first written for screen in 18 years. Rosie Sarah Greene (Penny DreadfulRebellionBlack 47) in the title role, alongside Moe Dunford (VikingsHandsome Devil) as her partner John Paul.

Rosie is produced by Emma Norton, Rory Gilmartin and Juliette Bonass. Roddy Doyle serves as Executive Producer alongside Ed Guiney and Andrew Lowe for Element Pictures. Dearbhla Regan is executive producer for Screen Ireland.

Rosie was shot in and around Dublin earlier this year and is backed by Fís Éireann / Screen Ireland, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, RTÉ, and Element Pictures Distribution. It world premiered at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival earlier this month.

Scannain caught up with director Paddy Breathnach on the red carpet.

Sarah Greene as “Rosie” and Molly McCann as “Maddie” in Paddy Breathnach’s Rosie. Picture Copyright – Element Pictures Distribution

Rosie got a very good reaction at the Toronto International Film Festival. How are you feeling now that it’s about to be released back home?

TIFF went well. I’m kind of excited to show it here because it’s obviously a film that is very relevant to here. This is its home audience and also it’s a film that I am very proud of making. I had a very good experience with a great bunch of people, so to be here celebrating it is really wonderful. There’s a buzz and an excitement about it. I’m really happy to be showing it here. Making something, making any film is a privilege in a way. And making something that is pertinent and relevant to your country has a special quality. And then for that to be something that is written by a great writer on top form just made it a really special thing for me. I only have good feelings about it.

The film originated with Roddy Doyle, when did you come into the process?

Roddy wrote an outline and gave it to Element. And then they commissioned him to write a script and I cam in at that first draft stage. When he had delivered that the they sent it to me and immediately it was obvious to me that it was something that I wanted to do and had a simplicity and a purity about it, but also there was space where I thought that I could bring something to it. Then we worked on the next draft or two drafts together. I was in early enough, but not from the start. I knew Roddy for a long time and we’d often talked about trying to do something together so that was another very attractive part of it.

And you have a long-standing relationship with Element founder Ed Guiney…

I’ve know Ed for a long time. We did our first films together. Ailsa was his first film. So it was great. There was a very good peculiar group of people who were working in the way that they should and with the right kind of energy on a project that was important to make and that was based on a good script. Then you bring into the equation some child actors. That could have turned it upside down or pear-shaped and I was worried about it, but they transformed it. Their enthusiasm, their commitment, and their skill transformed it into something where everybody had to be a little bit a better version of themselves. These children were coming in and bringing so much to it that everyone had to slightly lift it and make it even better.

It was a quick shoot and edit…

It was. A four week prep, a four week shoot, and then the turn around in the edit was pretty quick. It wasn’t a difficult edit. It came together quickly. We didn’t have to find the film, which is obviously a sign of a good script, and then its release has happened quickly. Often you have to wait  a year and a half but this has all happened within 6 months.

Sarah Greene, Moe Dunford, Ellie O’ Halloran, Molly McCann, Ruby Dunne, and Darragh McKenzie in Paddy Breathnach’s Rosie. Picture Copyright – Element Pictures Distribution

It’s a zeitgeist film so it is important that it is shown now.

It is. And the energy of something like that…it has an energy and that energy is ready to flow out. And it’s relevant and can become part of the conversation. It enables people to hopefully push things towards some kind of solution, bring up new ideas and give an urgency to that conversation.

Do you think that we should bring it to Dáil Éireann and show it?

I think it would be good. It’s a film that while it’s inevitable that its political because of its subject, it’s not a polemical piece and I hope that the people can find a way into it and that it might bolster them to do what they need to do.

It’s your second sociopolitical film in a row. Is this a direction for you?

Not really. It’s funny you know, I like films that are about strong characters and that have a muscular drama about them. And both Viva and Rosie did that and that’s the reason why I did them, rather than because of there being any sense of a campaigning thing. I mean maybe I can campaign by making films about something, but I’m a very bad campaigner otherwise. I’m full of doubts and self-doubts and “maybe there’s a point there”, so never put me on a podium to speak about any issue.

Not like Lenny Abrahamson has become in many ways. Perhaps even had forced upon him…

Lenny is a great advocate. In saying those things about myself, I’m saying them as a negative thing. I’d love to be a better advocate, but I’m not. I’ll make the film and tell the story. I suppose the fact that there is a social issue gives it a relevance, and that is important for a drama. That it is meaningful and relevant and this one in particular is a headline issue here. So that makes it extra so. I didn’t choose or I wasn’t looking for a film with a social issue. I read read a script that I thought was a fantastic script.

Rosie is out in Irish cinemas on October 12th via Element Pictures Distribution.