VIVA was a hit at the 2015 Telluride Film Festival, and Ireland’s entry for the Best Foreign Film Academy Award.
VIVA stars Héctor Medina as Jesus, a young hairdresser working at a Havana nightclub that showcases drag performers, who dreams of being a performer himself. Encouraged by his mentor, Mama (Luis Alberto García), Jesus finally gets his chance to take the stage. But when his estranged father Angel (Jorge Perugorría) abruptly reenters his life, his world is quickly turned upside down. As father and son clash over their opposing expectations of each other, VIVA becomes a love story as the men struggle to understand one another and reconcile as a family.
In this episode of PromohHomo.TV, Nicholas Snow interviews VIVA director Paddy Breathnach. Says the director, “I was inspired to make VIVA when I saw some drag shows in Havana. A sheet hung up in a suburban backyard and a single light bulb created a theatre and a world of dreams out of nothing. This power of transformation and creation was driven by a desire to express identity in a raw, unabashed passionate voice. It was intoxicating.
I wanted to take that vivid romantic tone and place it in a world of naturalistic cinema. When I discovered the great wealth of Cuban acting talent it allowed me to push that mix of an exuberant emotional tone and an aesthetic of authenticity and naturalism even further.
Screenwriter Mark O’Halloran and I wanted to explore a theme of transformation and the alchemy of connecting to deeper truths through the use of artifice. At the heart of the story is a battle for identity and love between a father and son. The romantic plaintive female voice in Jesus’s mother’s record collection almost serves as another character and occupies a higher order that inspires the men of the story to become truly themselves. I wanted to tell a story where we find light in a dark place and where what is perceived as weakness transforms to be seen as strength.
PADDY BREATHNACH – Director
Paddy Breathnach started his directing career making natural history documentaries.
His first feature, Ailsa, won the Award for Best First / Second Film at the San Sebastian Film Festival. His second feature I Went Down (BBC films) starring Brendan Gleeson, also won the New Directors prize at the San Sebastian Film Festival in 1997. I Went Down screened at Sundance in 1998 and won the Best Director awards at Thessaloniki and Bogota Film Festivals.
He produced SouthPaw, a feature documentary that was selected for Sundance in 1999 and got a US and UK theatrical release.
Breathnach then went on to direct Blow Dry (Miramax), which was released in 2001. His next film was Man About Dog, produced by Robert Walpole and Simon Channing Williams (The Constant Gardner). It was released in 2003 and became one of the most successful independently produced Irish films.
He has also directed a number of horror films including Shrooms (2006). In 2012 he completed the feature length documentary An Oiche a Gineadh m’Athair for TG4.
He is a board member of The Dublin International Film Festival and is vice chair of The Screen Director’s Guild of Ireland. He is also on the board of the Irish Film Institute.
Filmography – Director (10 credits)
- 2015 Viva
- 2012 An oíche a gineadh m’athair (Documentary)
- 2008 Freakdog
- 2007 Shrooms
- 2004 Man About Dog
- 2001 Blow Dry
- 1997 I Went Down
- 1996 W.R.H. (TV Series documentary)
- 1995 The Long Way Home
- 1994 Ailsa
MARK O’HALLORAN – Writer
Mark is a writer/ actor and is from County Clare, Ireland. As an actor he has worked with all the major theatre companies in Ireland, most recently in the acclaimed production of “The Shadow of a Gunman” with The Abbey Theatre in Dublin. On screen he has appeared in numerous films, most notably as one of the eponymous heroes in Adam & Paul for which he also wrote the screenplay and the lead role of MP in History’s Future directed by Fiona Tan. He also appears in The Guard and Calvary.
Mark‘s other writing credits include the multi award-winning film Garage and the television series “Prosperity.” For the stage he has written the play “Trade” and most recently he contributed text to the award-winning theatre production “Lippy.” Mark has been nominated for numerous awards including a European Film Award for the screenplay of Adam & Paul, Irish Film and Television Awards where he won for both “Best Screenplay“ and “Best TV Writer“ in 2007. He also won the London Evening Standard award for “Best Screenplay“ in 2005. “Trade” was named “Best Play” at the Irish Theatre Awards 2012. “Lippy” won “Best Production” at 2014 Irish Theatre Awards as well as winning a Fringe First at Edinburgh and 2 Obie Awards in New York.