My calling is to look after our beautiful planet

Director Aoise Tutty talks to us about her upcoming short film at Cork Film Festival and what inspires her work
My calling is to look after our beautiful planet
Aoise Tutty Picture: Stephanie Barry

TELL us about yourself;

I am, like most of us, a number of different things to a number of different people.

I turned 33 this year, an age I’ve always thought to be magic, and these last few months haven’t proved me wrong.

As I’ve gotten older, life has become more of a wild ride and I feel lucky to have lived through so many adventures. I am passionate about living in an authentic, sustainable, peaceful and creative way — looking after the gift that is our beautiful planet and learning to enjoy every moment to its fullest potential.

Integrating these things into my work through directing films, telling stories, and creating content that resonates on a deeper level is my life calling.

Where were you born?

I was born in Dublin but moved around a lot as a young child until I settled in West Cork when I was eight.

I moved away when I was 18 and spent the following 12 years living in big cities — with some spells of worldly adventures — until I returned to Ireland two years ago. I consider West Cork home.

Where do you live?

I was living with my mother near Skibbereen until a few weeks ago when I decided it was time to grow up, for the second time in my life, and move out (again!). I am now in Nohoval, also a beautiful part of Cork, and closer to the city. This feels like a bonus, particularly with the cold and darker months ahead.


Family is a bit like home, it’s where the heart is. I directed a documentary (in the process of being finished) last year in Malawi with community building agency Tamuka and the charity Love Support Unite.

We asked beneficiaries, volunteers and people working for the charity two questions — what family means to them and what love means to them. Both spurred insightful and emotive answers. Whether related by blood, friendship or community, family is incredibly important.

Best friend?

I’m incredibly blessed to have a number of best friends, most of whom are amazingly strong, supportive and inspirational women. Since I left London they have become more and more spread out across the globe. Despite the bad rep modern social media often gets, I am very grateful to WhatsApp voice messaging. It’s allowed me to remain in close connection with them, despite the large distances and time differences that separate us.

Earliest childhood memory?

Often I don’t know whether memories have been imprinted on me over time or come directly from my actual memory bank. I do recall my first holiday, with my grandparents in Brittany when I was six. They woke us in the middle of the night to see a firework display — the most exciting thing I had ever experienced.

There was also the excitement of French boulangeries and learning to swim with my grandad in the sea, while my sister got lost on the beach!

Person you most admire?

I have a lot of people in my life who I have huge admiration for. When I see people living from their heart, against the odds, it always moves me. This is not an easy path to walk and requires a lot of courage but the world needs more of this!

Some of my close friends have entered into motherhood in recent years and I have been awed at the transformation they have undergone. The strength and courage the journey has instilled in them is beautiful.

If I had to choose one person it would be my mother, Shona. She is strong, courageous, wise, compassionate and full of physical vitality and a zest for life.

Person who most irritates you?

I try my best to see other people’s perspectives, no matter how irritating they can be. I often see these situations/people in my life as providing me with the best possibility for learning and growth. That’s not to say I don’t get irritated though!

In general I find when people are very dogmatic or unwaveringly negative I get most irritated.

Aoise Tutty Picture: Stephanie Barry
Aoise Tutty Picture: Stephanie Barry

Who would you like to see as Minister for Finance and why?

Political knowledge is not my strong point. I did consider researching this to give a more ‘informed’ answer but that didn’t feel very ‘real’.

In general, I would like to see people in power who have a genuine passion for living from an authentic place. I think Ireland needs to focus on returning to a more simple way of living and reconnecting with the abundant nature surrounding us.

As my granny, Mollie, used to say, ‘health is wealth’ and some of this age old wisdom has been forgotten in the strive for material gain.

Where was your most memorable holiday?

I’m lucky to have travelled to many parts of Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and the USA. However, there is one place that keeps calling me back, India. The richness of India’s culture ignites all the senses. The place that stands out the most is Hampi with its ancient ruins, dinosaur era landscape, sunsets and abundance of cheeky monkeys.

Favourite TV programme?

I haven’t really watched TV in the traditional sense in many years. However, I do watch series. I love Mad Men. The depth of the characters, writing and performances along with the subtle yet powerful way it deals with important issues such as the rise of gender equality is brilliant. Twin Peaks in all its madness is also a favourite of mine.

Favourite radio show?

Desert Island Discs is timeless and going onto the BBC archives of this show is an absolute treasure chest. It has always been a long term dream of mine to be invited onto the ‘island’ one day!

Your signature dish if cooking?

I love cooking, but I’m not a huge recipe person — I’m more of a ‘make it up as you go along’ type of cook. It would probably include fresh (organic) vegetables, colour and spices — maybe a curry or a simple, but hearty, vegetable stew.

Favourite restaurant?

I’m a big fan of Pilgrims in Rosscarbery and Mews in Baltimore. These two incredible West Cork restaurants source local, organic, wild, foraged and seasonal produce.

I recently attended a talk about the importance of eating this type of food and the correlation to our mental health, which was fascinating. When I see restaurants who not only make this type of produce part of their ethos but also create absolute taste sensations, it’s a total win!

Last book you read?

I’m reading a book called Gut by Giulia Enders, a fascinating exploration into our gut and health. It is written in a very ‘digestible’ way (excuse the pun). I also just finished The Red Tent.

Last album/CD/download you bought?

I use Spotify for most of my musical needs these days. I’ve been listening to Ye Vagabonds’ album a lot. It’s amazing to see the revival in traditional/folk music in recent years.

Favourite song?

As you can probably tell by now, ‘favourites’ are hard for me! But the song I’ve been enjoying most of late is Cherokee by Cat Power.

One person you would like to see in concert?

One person I’ve not yet seen, and would really love to, is Björk. She’s the most incredible and inspirational artist and human being.

Do you have a pet?

I just moved into a house and my housemate has the cutest dog, Tico, who is smaller than a cat so that’s the next best thing!

Morning person or night owl?

Definitely a morning person. I love waking up at 6am and having time to meditate, do yoga, journal, have breakfast (and sometimes swim) all before 9am.

Your proudest moment?

Making the film An Open Door with 49 North Street, (Cork Mental Health Services and the HSE) has been one of the most humbling and life changing experiences for me. It opened a doorway to a world — which on the one hand I knew very little about and yet essentially I knew everything about, because we are all walking on this path together.

I have done a huge amount of work on my own wellbeing over the past few years so to be able to combine my personal experience with my role as a director was amazing. Making the film alongside people who are working incredibly hard to address the way we view and respond to mental health and having the film’s official premiere at the Cork Film Festival is a dream, and to have it being screened three times during the week (Illuminate strand alongside For The Birds, November 13; Irish Shorts 5, November 15; and Best of Cork, November 18) is even more of an honour. Maybe my proudest moment is now!

Spendthrift or saver?

Somewhere in between! I love treasure hunting in car boot sales and charity shops along with supporting and buying good quality, local, ethical products from designers and artisans.

What makes you happy?

Simple things. Feeling fit and healthy; eating and sharing good food with friends; swimming in the sea (even in winter); being in nature; exploring, dancing, playing and creating/making work I’m passionate about.

How would you like to be remembered?

On a personal level as a loving, happy, peaceful, fun and beautiful human being. On a professional level, as someone who inspired more open mindedness, compassion, connection, conversation and social change in the world.

What else are you up to at the moment?

I’m always in the midst of ‘finishing’ a multitude of projects and have made a renewed vow to myself to get things out there in the coming months. I’m developing a number of ideas for feature films, which is ultimately where I want to go with my work. I will be continuing to explore themes of mental health and wellbeing. And of course, from November 9 to 18 November, I’ll be up in the city for the Cork Film Festival. It’s set to be a great occasion, and I’m looking forward to seeing An Open Door on the big screen.

For more on Aoise’s work see

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