Cillian promises Cork ‘hooley’ for premiere

IRISH actor Cillian Murphy yesterday promised a hooley in Cork for the Irish premiere of The Wind that Shakes the Barley.

The film, 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.”

The historic award marks the first time that British director Ken Loach has won the top prize at Cannes — despite seven previous nominations — and is 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 Mr Murphy.

The film, which tells the story of two Irish brothers who fight in the War of Independence and then the Civil War, was shot in Cork and Kerry last year with a cast made up almost entirely of locals.

Loach has said there are strong parallels between the British occupation of Ireland and their presence in Iraq today.

Mr Murphy said 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 RTÉ radio.

Tourism, Sports and Arts Minister John O’Donoghue, who attended the film’s premiere at the Cannes film festival last week, has congratulated 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 (IRA).

However, it has also caused controversy in Britain for its graphic depiction of the brutality of the British forces, in Ireland, 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 Wind that Shakes the Barley will be released in Irish cinemas on June 23.

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