Arracht director and lead actor attending Stockfish!
Arracht is Tom Sullivan’s first feature film after a string of successful shorts by the Irish director. Both Tom Sullivan and lead actor in Arracht, Dónall Ó Héalai will be present for a Q&A session after a screening of the film.
Given that Tom Sullivan was born in Dublin, the setting of Arracht speaks back to the history of the director’s native land. During the years of 1845-1849 Ireland was plunged into a situation of mass starvation, due to a massive blight on the potato crops that led to the death of approximately 1 million people and the emigration of about 1 million more. This period was known as “The Great Famine” or “Gorta Mór”.
It is in this scenario that the story of Arracht takes place. The character of Coleman Sharkley, played by Dónall Ó Héalai (Impossible Monsters, Loud Places, My Name is Emily), is a charismatic fisherman who has the trust of the village he lives in, but his life takes a tragic and violent twist as he takes in a former soldier from the Napoleonic Wars, Patsy (Dara Devaney), shortly before the aforementioned Great Famine strikes the land.
Plagued by both the blight and an incremental rise on the land’s rent he sets out with Patsy and his brother to talk with the English Landlord and request a stay on the rent increases. The events that follow the meeting change his life forever, making his future seem as bleak as the blight that is taking over the land.
The movie carries a dark tone, setting the frame for the story itself, be it in regards to Coleman’s quest or the horror of the Great Famine itself, in this fashion the narrative is presented in a way that the audience is bound to feel the mood of the story in full. Sullivan masterfully delivers part of Ireland’s history, using the country’s own language, as opposed to the usual English narration, while adding to the mix a relatively modern thriller.
If on one side the audience is faced with the blight as a natural tragedy on the country as a whole, on the other side the narrative delivers the consequences of greed and unbridled, inhumane capitalism, with unscrupulous landlords that care little, if at all, for the people living on the land, sadly a problem that is still all too relatable in many countries.
Dónall Ó Héalaí was also born in Galway, Ireland, thus also blending perfectly into his role. The actor delivers a chilling interpretation that speaks true to the character’s predicament adding much to the realism and urgency of the story.
A tale of Ireland’s harsh past and a testament to the bravery and endurance of its people, “Arracht” is a must see for fans of historical drama as well as those who enjoy thrillers. Director Tom Sullivan and lead actor Dónall Ó Héalai will both join us at Stockfish for a Q&A session.
The film won Best Irish Film at the Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival. The lead performance from actor Dónall Ó Héalaí was also celebrated, with the actor receiving the Aer Lingus Discovery Award. The film also received the audience Award at the 2020 Glasgow Film Festival.
“Premiere in Tallinn last November as part of the Black Nights International Film Festival, with critics calling the film “bracingly authentic” and “a striking feature debut”. Its Irish Premiere at the Dublin International Film Festival was met with praise from Irish critics and audiences, with the Irish Times calling it “unmissable and a beautifully crafted murder ballad”