It is a remarkable time for Irish cinema. We have world class production teams, writers, directors, and a host of actors who could give any Hollywood A-lister a run for their money. Cork’s own Sarah Greene has been heading the charge in recent years and her latest film, Rosie, has everyone talking.
The film, revolving around a young family forced into homelessness when their landlord decides to sell the house, is a painful, relevant topic and one that Greene knew she had to be part of “the story leapt off the page, it was hard to read it and it is hard to watch but being apart of this has been such an honour”.
“What is happening today is just crazy so if a story like this can help people understand more and see it from more of a human aspect rather than just statistics then hopefully this will help to bring about some sort of change,” she says. “Children, and of course adults, have a right to a roof over their head and that is why this film is so important.”
The film was written by Roddy Doyle and directed by Paddy Breathnach, two people that Greene was keen to work with. Moe Dunford plays John Paul, Rosie’s partner. Dunford agrees with Greene’s feeling that Rosie is an important film.
“Irish audiences love Roddy Doyle, he makes things so Irish, so relatable. People listen to him and what he has to say. They will listen to what this film has to say.”
Greene is unassuming when she talks about her work, giving credit to the whole team who made this film.
“Our director, Paddy [Breathnach] is so lovely, he is very clever, smart and thoughtful. He really knows how to guide actors. There were times when I felt so angry for this situation that Rosie is in, and knowing that these type of things really happen, that I started to play Rosie angry but that was my anger, not hers. She is resilient and trying to keep it together in front of the children, she doesn’t let her anger show through. If you have kids you can’t let them know you are scared. You don’t want them to feel that fear otherwise they will just become afraid too and you just can’t let that happen. Paddy was brilliant at reminding me of that.’
The children in the film are remarkably well cast making the family as a whole strongly believable but while the adult actors have years of experience on set, how did such young actors adapt?
Dunford, like Greene, passes the credit. “I started onset a week after Sarah and the kids had begun filming. They had a tough week together filming some hard scenes and as soon as I got there I got the sense of family. Sarah has created something special with them, she was their mam, she had made it so I could just step in as their dad. We were a real family onset, that’s how it all worked.”
According to Greene, the children did keep them on their toes. “We prepped but not in the normal way. The kids would do something or say something in a slightly different way than the script so we just had to go with the flow and follow their lead. I think this is why the film feels so alive’.
Greene and Dunford have worked together before and their onscreen chemistry is matched in real life. They answer questions as a team, bouncing thoughts off each other as the interview goes on.
They worked hard to make sure that Rosie and John Paul put on a united front “they are a great couple” says Greene. “They really work so well together for themselves and for their children,” something which Dunford agrees with. “They are honest with each other and are there for each other. They don’t say everything will be ok, they don’t pander because they don’t know that everything will be ok. Instead, they support one and other.”
Greene and Dunford’s most recent film Black 47 highlights the horrors of the Irish Famine and is the most important historical Irish film made to date. With Rosie, the most important contemporary, it would seem that duo are at the forefront of Irish cinema.
They recently travelled to Canada for the Toronto International Film Festival where both films played but admitted that as glamorous as it might look from the outside the reality is far more hectic. “We were on different flights so met for a quick drink in the airport and then went our separate ways. We had less than 24 hours in Canada so it was manic. We both were so tight for time I had to get dressed in the back of a car,” says Dunford.
“I almost had to get changed in a car as well but luckily got a few extra minutes to change in the hotel,” says Greene. “It’s not what you would imagine it all to be like,” she laughs, but then turns serious, “but it was all about getting this film out there so it was worth it.”
With so much work on the go, Greene is looking forward to spending Christmas in Cork. “I am taking two weeks at home this Christmas. I had two days last year so it will be great to have extra time in Cork.”
Rosie opens in cinemas on October 12.