Filming location for spaghetti westerns in Almería, Spain

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© 1987-2016
Scott Larson

Building façade in Cannes, France

Long journey home

My own personal early spring short film festival continues!

This week it is the welcome return of old filmmaker friend Bertie Brosnan. Dedicated readers will remember that name for his previous short film, Jacob Wrestling with the Angel. I am happy to report that that film did quite well, making it all the way to Cannes (yes, the one in France) where it was accepted as part of the Short Film Corner.

That’s the kind of coup that has to be a once-in-a-lifetime thrill. Well, it would be anyway except that, only one year later, his new film has been accepted in the Short Film Corner as well. If this keeps up, he is going to be spending so much time on the French Riviera that the poor guy is liable to get tired of it.

It’s easy to see why the people who select the films for the Short Film Corner like Brosnan’s flicks. They are technically very accomplished and storywise very intriguing. His new one, Sineater, has all the trappings of feature-length film. Indeed, there was a 2003 movie by Brian Helgeland and starring Heath Ledger called The Sin Eater (original title: The Order) and a few years before that there was a short film called The Sin Eater, featuring Rhys Ifans. But Brosnan’s film is very different from either of those.

The poster and trailer for Sineater (both of which you can view on the film’s IndieGoGo page) showed so much depth and promise—as I said, all the trappings of a feature-length film—that I will confess to a bit of disappointment when I realized that its running length was a scant seven-and-a-half minutes. But darned if Brosnan didn’t comfortably fit a whole, complete, satisfying tale into that brief amount of time. In fact, it worked so well that to extend it much more might actually have felt like padding. Having said that, I bet that, if he did take a mind to extend it to, say, 90 minutes, I would be here writing that not a minute of it could possibly be cut.

It is tempting to recount the film’s story in detail, but that wouldn’t really be fair. But here’s the setup. Jack has flown back to Ireland and arrives in the middle of the night. He is surprised when a stranger in a car calls to him and says that he is a friend of his mother and will give him a lift. Jack gets in the car and so begins a journey that is more metaphysical and spiritual than anything ever envisioned by AA Roadwatch.

The creepiness factor in the scenario is heightened by the fact that the mysterious driver is Limerick actor Joe Mullins, who made a huge splash in Gerard Barrett’s prize-winning naturalistic drama Pilgrim Hill and who played a different sort of driver in Barrett’s follow-up Glassland. The fact that Mullins simply has one of the most unsettling stares ever committed to film makes him perfect for Sineater. The rest of the cast are quite good as well, including Sean McGillicuddy as Jack. Brosnan himself turns up in a supporting part.

If you get the chance to see Sineater, it is definitely worth it. Personally, my preferred way of seeing it would be to go to Cannes, but I’m guessing there will be some opportunities to see it at other festivals as well and eventually through other channels.

The really good news is that the film’s IndieGoGo page says that Kerry-born Brosnan “has big plans for a feature film to be shot in his hometown in 2016.” Now that is something I will definitely look forward to. His short films have definitely whetted my appetite. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with in a full-length production.

-S.L., 10 March 2015

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