Those other Derry girls: A Bump Along the Way to open IndieCork festival

Those other Derry girls: A Bump Along the Way to open IndieCork festival
Lola Petticrew and Bronagh Gallagher in A Bump Along The Way.

A lighthearted tale of a surprise pregnancy opens the IndieCork festival. Esther McCarthy spoke to its breakout star

FOLLOWING the success of the smash-hit TV series, some other Derry girls are bringing their quick wit and sassy turn of phrase to the screen.

A Bump Along the Way — the opening film at this year’s IndieCork Festival — is the funny, charming and moving tale of a single mother who becomes pregnant in her forties following a one-night stand, much to the dismay of her teenage daughter.

The movie is steeped in Derry wit, starring the city’s well-known daughter Bronagh Gallagher, produced by her sister Louise, and filmed on location in the city.

It also marks a star-making turn for young actress Lola Petticrew, who recently won the New Talent award at the Galway Film Fleadh for her portrayal of a vulnerable teenager struggling with the politics of school life, as well as her mother’s life-altering news.

Born and raised in Belfast, a city known for its friendliness, the actress was nevertheless moved by the warm reception they got in Derry. “It’s a very welcoming city, they opened their arms to us and the production, I feel like I’m an honorary Derry girl!” she says.

She feels the huge appeal of the TV series has helped open doors to other projects from the region.

Lola Petticrew stars in the film.
Lola Petticrew stars in the film.

“Thanks to the success of Derry Girls, people want to hear Northern Irish accents, Northern Irish women. We shot A Bump Along the Way last October not really knowing who was going to see it, on a tiny budget. We ended up bringing it to the Toronto Film Festival which wasn’t an experience I’d ever thought I’d have.”

The 23-year-old, who was a fan of Bronagh Gallagher growing up, was thrilled to land the co-lead opposite the star in the movie, which was also the directorial debut of filmmaker Shelly Love, from a script by Tess McGowan. The largely female creative team fed into the dynamic on set, she said.

“It was definitely something that I wanted to be attached to. Growing up I knew who Bronagh was and obviously wanted to work with her. On set, everyone was very nuturing, everyone was very calm, everyone’s voices were heard.

“The environment was incredibly special. There were a lot of little wonderful things that happened over those 18 days.”

Petticrew has had a couple of years of “pinch-me” moments as her talent has put her on the radar of filmmakers and casting agents. She has several films due for release, yet it’s a growing career that she may not have pursued at all. It was her friend, fellow actor Anthony Boyle (Tolkien, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child), who encouraged her to audition for drama school when she expressed doubt.

“I trained at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff. It’s become one of the top schools in the UK. They turn out actors who have a really good work ethos. One of my best friends is Anthony, and he attended there. I was kind of afraid of being rejected so I applied for English instead, and he rang me and told me to audition.”

Like any actor, potential rejection is something she has got used to. “I think you have to have a thick skin and trust in yourself that the project that’s meant for you will come to you. And just do your job!”

Petticrew is not from an acting background, with parents who both work in nursing, but it was certainly a creative household. “I wanted to act from a young age and my parents nurtured that. Mammy and daddy are amazing poets and would read to me and tell me stories. I loved acting things out at school and I think it sort of stemmed from that.”

Her first big breakthrough came two years ago, when she was cast in Porcelain in the Peacock theatre and decided to make her home in Dublin. She’s been busy since, most recently getting a leading role in a hugely successful run of The Country Girls on the main Abbey stage.

Several other film roles are on the way. Last summer she shot Here Are the Young Men, an upcoming Irish/American drama about a group of troubled teenagers, with Anya Taylor-Joy and Sing Street’s Ferdia Walsh-Peelo.

And she recently completed filming a lead role in the forthcoming Irish comedy/drama Beards. The latest movie from director David Freyne is building anticipation and has already been snapped up for international release.

“Myself and Fionn O’Shea play two gay teenagers and it’s set in the 1990s. To stop being bullied in school, they create a fake relationship with each other. It’s a comedy/drama, the romance is in the friendship and love that they have, and the hope they give each other.”

A Bump Along the Way opens this year’s IndieCork Festival and will be released in cinemas on October 11

IndieCork Festival highlights

Now in its seventh year, the 2019 IndieCork Festival is set to be the biggest yet, with several Irish and international movies poised to make their debut in Cork.

Making its world premiere is Irish documentary Lift, which tells the remarkable story of how Cork woman Karen Barry took up powerlifting in her 40s, and went on to compete at the World Championships.

The unique and indigenous sport of Irish road bowling is the subject matter of Splitting The Sop.

Another highlight is Losing Alaska, Irish filmmaker Tom Burke’s documentary about the town of Newtok, Alaska, which is set to be the first American town lost to climate change.

Burke will attend the screening of the widely praised film, which tells the story of a small community trying to prepare for disaster.

Dark Lies the Island, written by Kevin Barry and based around characters who feature in his collection of short stories, will screen as this year’s closing-night film.

Starring Peter Coonan and Charlie Murphy and directed by Ian Fitzgibbon, the dark comedy centres in a small rural town where two brothers fight to emerge from the shadow of their domineering father, while his young wife is caught in a tale of sexual jealousy.

A wide-ranging international film programme includes Polish film Corpus Christi, a real-life drama about a young man who impersonates a visiting priest.

South African crime thriller Flatland is a combination of road movie and western, centring on two women on the run with a determined policewoman on their tail.

The closing film at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, French thriller Sibyl, will also screen at Cork and tells the story of a jaded psychotherapist and a troubled young actress.

IndieCork runs October 6-13

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