Visit our official website at ancrannfilm.com
Listen to Emma talk about the film as Gaeilge on Raidió na Life: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/clar-24-2013-raidio-na-life/id686554838?i=241700702
Brendan and Aisling have lived together in the north of Ireland for twenty-five years. In their garden stands a quince tree, long forgotten... until one day, their new neighbour chops it down.
When Aisling informs their neighbour of her mistake, the woman invites Aisling to cut down one of her trees in retaliation. Brendan relishes the opportunity for payback, whilst Aisling is determined to forgive and forget. But the woman continues to wheedle her way into the couple's lives, and soon Aisling is forced to make a choice.
An Crann is an Irish-language thesis film by NYU Tisch School of the Arts student Emma Carlson, based on the poem 'An Crann' by Núala Ní Dhomhnaill.
Ní Dhomhnaill is one of Ireland's preeminent poets, and writes exclusively in Irish. Her work has been translated to English by Paul Muldoon, Seamus Heaney, and Medbh McGuckian.
The film will be shot on location in Falcarragh, Co. Donegal with a local cast. The funds raised here will be used to transport crew members from America to Ireland.
Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill is an exquisite poet, and An Crann is my favourite of her works. She writes exclusively in Irish: ‘the corpse that sits up and talks back’, a living dead tongue, and a language we share. Her words are not mine but I know them, could have felt them cool and hard between my lips like glass. A perfect specimen of God-struck sand. Irish is a visceral language, much of which is lost in translation to English. Its potency derives not only from syntax, but also from the knowledge that to speak Irish is an act of defiance against the march of time. This facet of Ní Dhomhnaill’s poetry both fascinates and excites me – enough so that I am compelled to make a film. It would follow that this film must incorporate this theme of defiance. The source material contains multitudes, but one of its principle concepts is the clash between traditional beliefs – superstitions – and modernity. Within its first line, the poem introduces the bean an leasa: the fairy woman, translated by Paul Muldoon as a ‘bright young thing’. She arrives at a couple's home and proceeds to take a Black and Decker to one of the trees in their garden without permission. In Irish folklore, there exist certain trees that are thought to be links to the ‘Otherworld’: a sort of magical realm that coexists with the known world. To fell one is to incur the wrath of the Fair Folk, and bring terrible misfortune upon oneself. Ní Dhomhnaill’s evocation of the bean an leasa and the anger of woman’s husband upon discovering the mutilation of the tree indicates both the superstition of the couple, and the either ignorance or callousness of the Fairy Woman. In the original text, the bean an leasa speaks in English, further implying her foreignness. It is crucial, then, also, to incorporate the theme of misunderstanding, of the complexity of communication. This is a very simple film. It is about a man and a woman who love each other, and who are suddenly and inexplicably confronted with change. It will be a quiet film. It will be grey and it will be green.
My favourite stanza of the poem contains the lines: 'Pé ar bith sa tsaol é, iontaithe bunoscionn'. Translated: 'whatever life is, totally irreconcilable'. This is what interests me about this poem – this story – this is what I am compelled to adapt, and to share: The knowledge that nothing is knowable and least of all life; that everything contradicts and nothing confirms and that we are living both in This World and the Other at once. One foot out the door at all times. In my final year as a student, I am approaching a tremendous unknown: impending graduation, and, afterwards, the vast expanse of life. So it feels right and true to tell a story about change and uncertainty. And about defiance. About looking square into the eyes of something new and unexpected and being unafraid.
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Le gach dea-ghuí,
An Crann is still in the early stages of pre-production, and has not yet been cast. Visit our website for up-to-date information on the casting process.
Risks and challenges
Casting the film will be difficult. In order to both facilitate authentic performances, and ease the complications of travel, casting sessions will be held within Ireland, where the film will be shot.
As the film is in Irish, it is also crucial to find an actor who is able to speak the language. This is for more likely in Ireland than in America, and we want to have the broadest talent pool possible to ensure we find the right actors to join our team.
However: the crew is comprised of students attending New York University. This necessitates an overseas casting process. Though it is always ideal to meet with an actor in person before casting them, the crew of An Crann is confident in their ability to both discover and rehearse with talent long before the film goes into production.
This is our only major challenge apart from funding the project. The script is simple, with only three characters and one location, and once the crew is successfully overseas everything should run smoothly! (Or, as smoothly as is possible on a film set.)Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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