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Film Details

TitleAILSA
Production companyTemple Films Co-Productions
WDR
Emperor Films
Temple Film & Television Productions (Ailsa) Ltd.
SponsorRadio Telefís Éireann/RTE
ArtE
GRECO
Bórd Scánnán na hEireann/Irish Film Board. GRECO
European Script Fund
Arts Council of Ireland
Country of originIreland
France
Germany
ProducerGUINEY, Ed
BRADLEY, Stephen
LENNON, Kathryn
DirectorBREATHNACH, Paddy
Script/AdaptationO'CONNOR, Joseph
PhotographyDE BUITLEAR, Cian
Sound recordingCASEY, Mary
EditingREYNOLDS, Emer
CASEY, Mary
Art directionO'NEILL, Padraig
Production designMcLOUGHLIN, Ned
Costume designTIERNEY, Marie
Executive producerSTONEMAN, Rod
Music composerMARIANELLI, Dario
HUNT, Matthew
Music performanceHUNT, Matthew (Alto Sax)
CastBrendan Coyle (Miles Butler), Andrea Irvine (Sara), Darragh Kelly (Sean), Juliette Gruber (Campbell), Gary Lydon (Jack), Blanaid Irvine (Vera), Niall O'Brien (counsellor), Des Spillane (old Mr Johnson), Simon Walsh (punk), Stuart Dunne (workman), Conor Mullen (Emperor), Paddy Ashe (man in post office), Frankie McCafferty (post office assistant), Ned McLoughlin (postman), Anne McGeown (Mrs Foley), Anne Kent (woman in cafe), Caroline Gray (waitress), Brendan Cauldwell (Moloney), Darren O'Toole (post boy), O Z Whitehead (American tourist), Diane O'Kelly (girl on train), Brendan Conroy (Mr Johnson Jr), Sean Keams (security guard), carol singers (choir of Guardian Angel National School), Georgia Mullen (Ailsa).
Colourcol
Soundsound
Duration78
Release date1994
CopyIFA
SummaryMyles Butler lives an uneventful life with his girlfriend Sara on the third floor of a Georgian house. One evening when they return from a dance, they find that there is no electricity in the house. Myles tries to find the source of the power failure. He discovers the electrocuted body of the landlord, Mr Johnson, lying in his bath. The horror of this moment makes a deep impression on Myles. He is drawn to the scene of the death - the second-floor flat - which lies empty for months. He takes a box which contains Mr Johnson's most personal possessions, among them a small revolver. Shortly afterwards, the enigmatic Campbell Rourke moves into Mr Johnson's apartment. She is beautiful and Myles' curiosity in her grows. He tries to introduce himself to her, but is thwarted by chance on each occasion. One morning he picks up a letter of hers by mistake. He gets a thrill knowing that he has her letter in his pocket. He decides to open it. A tension has set into his relationship with Sara. Myles is also under pressure at work. His only freedom is his interest in Campbell. He takes more of her letters, making no distinction between bills, junk mail, and correspondence. He pays some bills for her. Campbell discovers that someone has been stealing her mail and, ironically, seeks help from Myles and Sara. They have an awkward meeting with her and the new landlord, Mr Johnson's son. Myles returns Mr Johnson's box to his son, but he keeps the small revolver. Myles knows that he must give up stealing Campbell's letters and he bums his file containing them. He is repentant and tries to rekindle his romance with Sara. In spite of his recent change of heart, his obsession has already affected his work and he gets fired. Myles is subdued. His apparent calmness masks a deep frustration which explodes one evening when Sara tries to joke with him. She hurts herself in an accident caused by Myles' frustration. Later that evening he gets into a fight and is humiliated. This seems to shock him to his senses. He prepares a confession but when he returns to the flat he is locked out. He stays with a neighbour, Vera, for a few days. It seems that he has left his obsession with Campbell behind him. He makes up with Sara and she decides to give him another chance. They talk about having a baby. When he buries the gun in the back garden it seems as if the whole episode has been laid to rest. Some time passes and things seem to be back to normal. At Christmas Myles comes home with presents. A letter has arrived saying that Campbell has had a baby called Ailsa. Myles is completely devastated. Myles leaves a message of farewell on Campbell's answering machine, then commits suicide by shooting himself. (V).
NoteUSA Rel 10/7/1994 (world premiere. New York); IR Rel 15/7/1994 (Galway Film Fleadh). This film was made in seventeen days in 1993 on location in Dublin at a cost of £250,000. The house used in the film is in Belgrave Square, Monkstown, Co Dublin. This film won the Premio Euskal Media/Nuevos Realizadores at the 1994 San Sebastian International Film Festival, with a financial award of ECU300.000 towards the next production of the producer and director.
ReferencePI No. 39:14-15; FI No. 42:27; PI No. 45:20-21; IT 26/9/1994:7; ST21/11/1993:B10.

IT (Sound and Vision), 1 Dec 1995: 13, 'Plunging in Ahead of the Wave' , Interview with Paddy Breathnach (Michael Dwyer).

FI, Feb/Mar 1994: 14-15, 'Low Fat Filmmaking', interview with Paddy Breathnach and Ed Guiney (Dearbhla Regan).

FI, Aug/Sept 1994: 27, reviewby Ted Sheehy.

FI, Feb/Mar 1994: 20-21, 'Selling The Small Film', interview with Ed Guiney by Mike Collins.

Variety, 5 Sept 1994: 56, review by Brendan Kelly.

IT (Sound and Vision), 1 Dec 1995: 13, 'Crimes and Misdemeanours', review by Michael Dwyer.

'Ailsa: A Dark Journey Into The Heart Of Obsession', Temple Films, Publicity Material: Biographies, Synopsis, Credits, Cast. Held at the Tiernan MacBride of the Irish Film Institute.

Ailsa - introduction. Background and synopsis of film Ailsa. Held at the Tiernan MacBride of the Irish Film Institute.

ST (Business), 21 Nov 1993: 10, 'It's Joe O'Connor: The Movie', Paddy Breathnach and Ed Guiney talk about the background to Ailsa and planned future projects.

IT, 26 Sept 1994: 10, 'Irish Feature Film Wins Big Prize at Spanish Festival', Paddy Breathnach's film "Ailsa" received the Premio Euskal Media/Nuevos Realizadores at the 42nd San Sebastian International Film Festival.
Format35mm
Production creditsp.c: A Temple Films Co-Production with WDR. p: Emperor Films for Temple Film & Television Productions (Ailsa) Ltd. In association with Radio Telefís Eireann, ArtE, GRECO and Bord Scannan nahEireann/Irish Film Board. Subsidised by GRECO. Produced with the assistance of Bord Scannan na hEireann. Developed with the support of the European Script Fund. Grant-aided by the Arts Council of Ireland, p: Ed Guiney, co-p: Stephen Bradley, Kathryn Lennon, exec. p: Rod Stoneman (Bord Scannan na hEireann), commissioning ed for WDR: Gebhard Henke, d: Paddy Breathnach, sc: Joseph O'Connor from his own story 'Ailsa' (Sunday Tribune Nov 1989; reprinted in the collection by O'Connor, True Believers, London: Sinclair-Stevenson, 1991), sc. super: Catherine Morris, p. cnslt: David Collins, dop: Cian de Buitlear, ed: Emer Reynolds, art d: Padraig O'Neill, p.dsgn.: Ned McLoughlin, p. co-ord: Lesley McKimm, loc. m: Ruan Magan, Karl Hayden, a. loc. m: Jody Cosgrove, m. orch/arrg: Dario Marianelli, Matthew Hunt (alto sax), m. rd/m. mix: Brian Masterson, a. engr: Alastair McMillan, s: mix: Simon J Willis, boom op.: Barry O'Sullivan, a. ed/s. ed: Mary Casey, a.s. ed: Dermot Diskin, trainee a. ed: Alan Duffy, 1st a.d: Brendan Geraghty, 2nd a.d: Charlotte Somers, 3rd a.d: Peter Agnew, trainee a.d: Barbara Mulcahy, Andrew Hegarty, focus puller: Conor Kelly, clapper loader: Shane Deasy, grip: Philip Murphy, trainee a.c: Simon Walsh, a. clapper loaders: Richie Donnelly, Ciaran Barry, prop.buyer: Tina Brophy, props master: Kate Hyland, stand-by props: Christina Brosnan, a. art dept team: Irene O'Brien, Paul O'Hare, Annette Murphy, cost: Marie Tiemey, make-up/hair: Linda Ní Mhaonaigh, a. make-up/hair: Moira O'Sullivan, ward: Sheila Fahey, p.a: Daime O'Sullivan, p. team: Daisy Fortune, Daisy Cummins, Andrew Douglas, Gavin Lyons, accnts: Muireann Murray, gaffer: Maurice Swan, elec: James Maguire, Noel Cullen, David Dumey, Niall Swann, stills: Pat Redmond, publicity: Tom Golden, armourer: John McKenna, sp. effs. super: Maurice Foley, sp. effs. a: Michael Doyle, Brendan Walsh, calligrapher: Simon Kavanagh, cnstr. adv: Russ Bailey, carpenter: Vivion O'Brien, Liam Ó Riain, painter: Christy O'Shaughnessey, Tommy O'Shaughnessey, Robbie Richardson, plumber: Brendan McGovem, rigger: Pascal Jones, Jack Keogh, s. mix: Pat Hayes (Purple Room), a.d.R: Paco Hayes, Dan Birch, a. voices: Paul Hickey, Alt White, a. Foley art.: Brian Fogarty, Alan Gregg, telecine op: Paul Holmes, legal adv: James Hickey, titles dsgn: John Power, titles/opticals: Howell Optical Printers.
LocationDublin City
Genre/CategoryUrban Drama
Psychological Drama
Feature Film Drama
KeywordsObsession
Madness
Insanity
Relationships
Suicide
Irish-Americans
Office Workers
georgian Houses

Contact: irishfilm@tcd.ie | Last updated: Nov 27 2006.