Alan Gilsenan’s Irish/Canadian co-production Unless will join compatriot Maudie, from director Aisling Walsh, at the 17th Calgary International Film Festival later this month.

Unless, which is scripted by Gilsenan, is based on the award-winning and final novel from Canadian author Carol Shields, and will world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival next week. The film follows a successful writer struggling to come to terms with her daughter’s decision to withdraw from the world and start pan-handling on a street corner.

Academy Award nominee Catherine Keener leads a star-studded cast, which also features Matt Craven, Brendan Coyle, Hannah Gross, Chloe Rose, Abigail Winter, Martha Henry, and Hanna Schygulla. Gilsenan is best known for biographies The Yellow Bittern and Eliza Lynch: Queen of Paraguay.

Unless is a Canada-Ireland co-production, produced by Jennifer Kawaja and Julia Sereny of Sienna Films and Tristan Orpen Lynch and Aoife O’Sullivan of Dublin-based Subotica. Multiple IFTA award-winning editor Emer Reynolds oversaw post-production, with Celiana Cardenas as cinematographer, production design from Tim Bider, and music from Jonathan Goldsmith. The film is financed with the financial participation of the Irish Film Board, Telefilm Canada, the Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC), Mongrel Media, Premiere Fund and Windmill Lane Pictures, with development funding by Super Channel.

Last year Lenny Abrahamson’s Room played CIFF, winning the Audience Award for Best Feature. The 17th Calgary International Film Festival runs September 21st to October 2nd.

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