Irish Film Preview: Alan Gilsenan’s Unless

Another of the big Irish international co-productions to be released in 2016 is Alan Gilsenan’s Canadian based Unless.


The film, which is scripted by Gilsenan, is based on the award-winning and final novel from Canadian author Carol Shields. It follows a successful writer struggling to come to terms with her daughter’s decision to withdraw from the world and start pan-handling on a street corner.

Academy Award nominee Catherine Keener is in the leading role, alongside Matt Craven, Brendan Coyle, Hannah Gross, Chloe Rose, Abigail Winter, Martha Henry, and Hanna Schygulla. Gilsenan is best known for biographies The Yellow Bittern and Eliza Lynch: Queen of Paraguay.

Unless is a Canada-Ireland co-production, produced by Jennifer Kawaja and Julia Sereny of Sienna Films and Tristan Orpen Lynch and Aoife O’Sullivan of Dublin-based Subotica. Multiple IFTA award-winning film editor Emer Reynolds oversaw post-production, with Celiana Cardenas as Cinematographer, Production design from Tim Bider, and music from Jonathan Goldsmith. The film is financed with the financial participation of the Irish Film Board, Telefilm Canada, the Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC), Mongrel Media, Premiere Fund and Windmill Lane Pictures, with development funding by Super Channel.

[infobox style=’regular’ static=’1′]unless_stylised-imageUnless

Director: Alan Gilsenan
Writer: Alan Gilsenan (based on the novel by Carol Shields)
Producers: Tristan Orpen Lynch, Aoife O’Sullivan, Julia Sereny, Jennifer Kawaja
Cinematographer: Celiana Cardenas
Editor: Emer Reynolds

Actors: Catherine Keener, Matt Craven, Hannah Gross, Brendan Coyle, Hanna Schygulla

Reta Winters has many reasons to be happy. Her three almost-grown daughters. Her twenty-year relationship with their father. Her modest success as a writer. Then, suddenly, all the quiet satisfactions of her well-lived life disappear in a moment – her eldest daughter Norah suddenly drops out of college, runs from the family and is found on a Toronto street corner, with a hand-lettered cardboard sign reading ‘Goodness’ on her chest. Unless follows Reta and her family as they struggle first to ‘rescue’ Norah, then to understand her incomprehensible decision in taking this strange path.[/infobox]