#IrishFilm: Production on Tom Collins’ Aithrí/Penance underway with Peter Coonan as lead

Principal photography is currently underway in Ramelton, Co Donegal and Derry City on Tom Collins’ latest feature film Aithrí/Penance, with actor Peter Coonan in the lead role.

Coonan, who is best known for playing Fran in Love/Hate, plays Father Eoin O’ Donnell, a young firebrand priest, who uses his influence over his parishioners, and in particular a teenage boy called Antaine, to promote violence against the British in the lead-up to the 1916 Rising. O’Donnell and Antaine meet again in Derry in 1969 where both men are forced to re-examine their shared past and the deadly events that have been set in motion as a result.

Speaking of the casting of Coonan in the lead role, Director Tom Collins said:

I had often heard that Peter Coonan was one of Ireland’s best actors, so I had wanted to work with him for a while now. It has been a great experience to see him delivering such powerful performances on Penance.

For Coonan, the appeal was in the challenge posed by the role:

I was attracted to this role primarily because of the challenge it posed but also because it was a chance to dive into the psyche of a man in 1916 Ireland. The fact that it happens to be a priest is just another interesting layer that makes it a really exciting role for an actor.

A celebrated stage and screen actor, Coonan is soon to be seen in Stacie Passon’s feature film We Have Always Lived in the Castle based on the novel by Shirley Jackson, alongside Taissa Farmiga (American Horror Story) and Sebastian Stan (Captain America: Winter Soldier). That film, which is produced by Michael Douglas’s production company, recently wrapped shooting in Co. Wicklow. Recent credits include Ian Power’s feature film The Guarantee, the role of Brendan Boyle opposite Gabriel Byrne in the BBC mini-series Quirke, the lead role of Alex in the feature film Get Up & Go alongside Killian Scott, and his award-winning performance as Fran on the critically-acclaimed RTÉ drama Love/Hate for which Peter won an Irish Film and Television Award for Best Supporting Actor.

His most recent theatre work includes the role of Jerry Devine in The Gate Theatre’s 2016 production of Juno & The Paycock by Sean O’Casey, directed by Mark O’Rowe, the role of Marco in Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge directed by Joe Dowling also with the Gate.

Tom Collins has been producing and directing award-winning feature films and documentaries since Hush-a-Bye Baby in 1988. During his career he has had the unprecedented distinction of being twice nominated as Ireland’s Entry for Best Foreign Language Film at The Academy Awards for his films Kings 2008 and The Gift / An Bronntanas in 2014. He has produced or directed 13 documentries and feature films including Bogwoman, Dead Long Enough; Teenage Kicks – The Undertones and The Boys of St Columb’s. In 2015 he was awarded the prestigious Life Time Achievement award by the Directors Guild of Ireland for his “Outstanding contribution to Irish Film making”.

The film was written by Greg Ó ‘Braonáin and Tom Collins, with Collins produces alongside Edwina Forkin (Zanzibar Films), Aithrí/Penance is funded by Northern Ireland Screen, The Irish Film Board, TG4, and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.