Cork-born actor Cillian Murphy today promised a hooley in Cork for the Irish premiere of The Wind that Shakes the Barley.
The film, which is set during the War of Independence and the Civil War, was awarded the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival.
Murphy, who has recently starred in Batman Begins and Neil Jordan’s Breakfast on Pluto, said he was looking forward to the film’s premiere in Cork on June 20.
“It was very special shooting down in Cork because I’m from there. All these stories and this history is still very much alive down there and the people where we shot (the film) were just amazing. We’ll have a bit of a hooley on the 20th of June.”
It was the first time that British director Ken Loach had won the prize at Cannes, after seven previous nominations, and also the first major success for an Irish-made film at the festival.
“It’s just a tribute to Ken, the amount of time he’s been selected for competition in Cannes, it’s amazing. Just to get selected is a big deal and then for him to win, we’re all thrilled,” said Murphy.
The film, which tells the story of two brothers who fight in the War of Independence and then the Civil War, was shot in Cork and Kerry last year with an almost entirely local cast.
Loach has said there are strong parallels between the British occupation of Ireland and their presence in Iraq today.
Murphy said that people were free to draw parallels from the film, which he said were pretty obvious.
“But for us, we just wanted to make a film as true as possible to that era and commit to the characters as honestly as possible. Hopefully if stories are universal, people can take from it what they want,” he told RTE radio.
Minister for Tourism, Sports and the Arts John O’Donoghue, who attended the film’s premiere at the Cannes film festival last week, has congratulated Mr Loach on winning the award.
“The film is a tremendous production that powerfully portrays the War of Independence and the Civil War. Ken Loach handles this difficult and painful period of our history with characteristic genius and well deserves the Palme d’Or for this masterpiece,” he said.
He added that the Palme d’Or award meant that the film’s success nationally and internationally was now guaranteed.
“This is a terrific day for the Irish film industry and will no doubt have a very positive impact for future productions.”
The Wind that Shakes the Barley is set in Cork between 1920 and 1922 and has been described as a stirring and sympathetic portrait of the early days of the Irish Republican Army. However, it has also caused controversy in Britain for its graphic depiction of the brutality of British forces during the War of Independence.
The Irish Film Board, which supported the film, described Loach as a master of cinema.
“It is a triumph for Ireland that he chose a key moment of Irish history as the inspiration for one of his finest films,” said chief executive Simon Perry.
The front-runner for the coveted Palme d’Or prize for both critics and audiences had been Pedro Almodovar’s Spanish film, Volver, starring Penelope Cruz.
Babel, the new film from 21 Grams director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, was also considered a favourite.
The Wind that Shakes the Barley will be released in Irish cinemas on June 23.