Last night the 28th Galway Film Fleadh announced its winners, but one award was noticeably absent from the list…Best First Irish Feature. The reason for this was that closing film, Sanctuary, was eligible for the award, and it has now been announced as the winner.
The film received a rapturous reception last night, earning two standing ovations, and more than a few laughs, from the audience.
Set in the world of people with intellectual disabilities, Sanctuary is a touching and funny love story about Larry and Sophie, two people who long to be together in a world that does everything to keep them apart. Larry, has Down Syndrome, Sophie, has severe epilepsy. The two are attracted to each other and, through a care worker Tom, they sneak away to a hotel room during a supervised trip to the cinema. What do they do once they are there? How do they express a love that dare not speak it’s name? Are they aware that in Ireland they are about to break the law?
Directed by Len Collin, the film is based on a script by Christian O’Reilly adapted from his own play, which was originally commissioned and produced by Blue Teapot Theatre Company. The multi-award-winning theatre company is known for its work with people with intellectual disabilities, and all the principal cast come from there.
Sanctuary is a world-first for actors with intellectual disabilities. Following on from pioneers such as Jaco Van Dormael’s as Le huitième jour (1996) and Galvao’s Colegas (2012) this film features nine wonderful actors with ID.The film stars Kieran Coppinger and Charlene Kelly in the leads, with support from Michael Hayes, Emer Macken, Paul Connolly, Frank Butcher, Patrick Becker, Jennifer Cox, and Valerie Egan. The film also features Stephen Marcus, Amy-Joyce Hastings, Tara Breathnach, Caroline Grace-Cassidy, and Christopher Dunne.
Edwina Forkin produced the film for Zanzibar Films, with Russell Glesson as DoP, Julian Ulrich as editor, Eleanor Woods on production design, and music from Joe Conlon. Sanctuary was made with financial assistance from the Fís Éireann/Screen Ireland (FÉ/SI) is the national development agency for Irish filmmaking and the Irish film, television and animation industry., the Broadcast Authority of Ireland, and RTÉ.