Film directed by recovering drug addict to screen at Cannes

A HARD-HITTING film about drugs directed by a recovering drug addict from Cork has been selected for screening at the world-famous Cannes Film Festival.

“It’s a dream come true,” Philip McCarthy said last night.

A decade ago, Philip, 36, was smoking heroin, cannabis and taking cocaine.

Now drug-free and using his art form to spread the anti-drugs message, he is hoping to travel to the Cote d’Azur town next month for the screening of his film, The Dark Room, at Cannes’ influential Short Film Corner selection.

A festival spokesperson said this section provides an opportunity to discover an emerging generation of new talent and current trends in short films.

“Participating in Cannes Short Films improves a director’s chances of having a film selected for other international festivals and having his or her talent recognised by potential partners and distributors,” she said.

However, Philip, who is on disability, is struggling to fund his trip and appealed for help.

“Ten years ago, I used to go to bed at night praying for a god to take my life,” he said.

“Then I turned my life around and today, I ask my own higher power to keep me alive another day. I’m living my dream today.”

Philip drew on his own life’s experience and wrote The Dark Room for stage while studying theatre and performance in Coláiste an Stiofáin Naofa in 2006.

It tells the story of a young man who falls on hard times and turns to drugs to cope. It also tackles issues such as self-harm, peer pressure and suicide.

Philip was then encouraged to adapt it for screen and he directed an 18-minute short film.

“It’s was an emotional experience to write this screenplay, and the intention was to get across the way in which life is so easily destroyed — individual lives and the lives of people close by — from the minute people become involved with heroin and cocaine,” he said.

“I’ve been fortunate to find a way to live life well, but characters in this short film don’t.”

But Philip stressed there is light at the end of the tunnel.

“It doesn’t have to be doom and gloom. But young people need to tell people about their troubles and what’s going on.”

Philip’s film stars Rosín O’Neill, Noel McGlynn, and will be screened in Cannes between May 11 and 23. This year’s festival will be opened by Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, with Hollywood A-listers including Brad Pitt and Mel Gibson expected to attend.

Philip said he hopes to be able to meet some of them.

“These are the people I dreamt of,” he said. “It’s just amazing to think I’ll be there.”

Funding issues forced Philip to abandon the shooting of a full-length feature film, The Vein Within, last year.

He shot several key scenes in Cork city but the movie is currently on hold until finance is secured.

* For more see The Vein Within on Facebook.


Lindsay Woods: At a time of year when the pace is frenzied and days are full of school plays and deadlines, the chance to break from routine is a welcome one

On the red carpet: Margot Robbie, Saoirse Ronan, Diane Kruger and Cheryl

Raise a glass to Christmas festivities

The best festive desserts to try out this Christmas

More From The Irish Examiner