Filmmaker Rebecca Daly brings mysteries to life

Cara O’Doherty talks to filmmaker Rebecca Daly about her latest project, Good Favour, centred around the Mennonite religious community
Filmmaker Rebecca Daly brings mysteries to life

Rebecca Daly — director of ‘Good Favour’, which revolves around the appearance of an injured young man (Vincent Romeo), who stumbles out of the woods into a religious community.

FILMMAKER Rebecca Daly is fast gaining a reputation as one of Ireland’s finest filmmakers. Her fascination with mystery and unusual characters has allowed her to create interesting, diverse films, the third of which screens at Triskel Cinema from February 15 to 18.

Good Favour revolves around the appearance of an injured young man (Vincent Romeo), who stumbles out of the woods into a religious community. He has amnesia, and both he and the community must learn how to adapt to having a person with no identity in their midst.

The film, although a work of fiction, was inspired by real life, as Daly explains. “The idea came from two different places. My grandmother had very strong faith, despite acknowledging the abuses that took place in the Catholic Church. I am really interested in the idea of people enduring and accepting lots of difficult things, to continue following their beliefs.”

Daly’s interest in amnesic characters came from an event that happened in Germany. “There was a real-life news story about a young man who walked out of the woods in Berlin and said he had no idea who he was, or what had happened him. He said he had lost all of his memories.

“I was interested in the possibilities of what someone could become in a community when they said they had no past.”

A scene from ‘Good Favour’.
A scene from ‘Good Favour’.

Daly is interested in psychology and intriguing characters which is why her films tend to centre around enigmatic characters. “I want to know what makes people tick. Part of the process is investigating people. Complex people are interesting to watch.”

In the film, the community christen the young man Tom and set about teaching him their ways. The villagers are based on the Mennonites, a religious community which follow a strict christian ethos and limit their exposure to modern life. Daly was fascinated by their life. “Mennonites believe that everything they do in life is to guarantee a good place in heaven. They don’t believe in pleasure or luxury in life, if they live a good life that will get their rewards in the after life. They are an interesting society. They work together in everything they do. Sharing their work, doing everything with precision.”

The film was shot in Belgium and was a co-production with Ireland, Denmark, Belgium, Netherlands, and Germany. This meant there were producers from each country, and using actors of various nationalities. “I had worked with some of the producers before. It is a great way to get a film made. It means the funders can see that the film will go down well in their own country, that they will have an audience for it. It also means a really interesting mix of creative people were involved, each bringing different culture references with them which all feed into the film. I worked like this on my last two films as well, and it gives a really rich result.”

Barry Keoghan, star of Daly’s last movie Mammal, has seen his career skyrocket in the last two years. Both Keoghan and Romeo have a unique energy, quite unlike the typical Hollywood leading young man.

Vincent Romeo - lead in ‘Good Favour’.
Vincent Romeo - lead in ‘Good Favour’.

“Hollywood is changing. There is a move towards more interesting faces, and people who have a genuine charisma. Think of actors like Rami Malik. The stereotypically good-looking Hollywood actors can be a little bland and samey. Unique characters are far more interesting, actors like Barry and Vincent have such a different energy to what Hollywood was used to. There is an appetite for something unexpected, and they both have that.”

Daly notes that while there is a shift towards more women working in the film industry, there is still a long way to go.

“There have been changes, but it is slow. There are some initiatives in Ireland to open up things in the industry for female directors. There are conscious decisions being made which are necessary. It wasn’t a lack of talented females or women who actively want to work. There were many factors at play that stopped women from working in the industry. There was an unconscious bias, sometimes on both sides. There is still a move to be made. We are progressing but we aren’t there yet.”

Daly’s decision to move to Cork was made on a whim, but now that she has settled, she has found herself well and truly embedded in the community.

“I was visiting a friend in Cork, and just decided I wanted to stay. I had been living in Dublin for a long time and needed a change. I love it here. The film community is very strong, which is great. I have joined Naomhóga Chorcaí rowing club. I am well and truly settled here. It’s fantastic.”

“Cork has become so visible on screen, and with that comes a lot of filmmaking support, facilities, and crew. I am working on the early stages of my next film which is set in New York, but I would love to make something here further down the line. There is something very particular, and beautiful about the look of Cork. Between the mountains and the river, it has a natural cinematic feel.”

Good Favour screens in Triskel Cinema from February 15–18. Daly will be taking part in a Q&A on February 15.

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