Principal photography has begun in Luxembourg on new Irish co-production Black ’47, from Kisses director Lance Daly. The shoot will continue there until December 22nd, with production returning to Ireland during and after.
Black ’47 takes its title from the infamous summer of 1847, which was the worst year of the Great Famine in Ireland and saw upwards for 3 million Irish people on the verge of starvation rely on the poor houses and soup kitchens established by the British government. The film takes place during this tumultuous event in Irish history, and follows Feeney, a young Connaught Ranger, who returns from fighting for the British during the Afghan war. On his return he discovers that his family have been thrown off their land and left to die in a poor house. With little else to live for, he sets out on a destructive path to avenge his family, systematically working his way up the political and social hierarchy of Ireland. Hannah, an aging British soldier and famed tracker of deserters, is sent to stop Feeney before he can further stoke the fires of revolution. But Hannah and Feeney are old army comrades with a mutual respect forged by their times fighting together. Personal bonds and shifting allegiances cause both men to question their motives, as they are tested to the limit by the hellish landscape of “the great hunger”.
Australian star Hugo Weaving, who worked with writer PJ Dillon and producer Macdara Kelleher on Irish-Australian co-production Strangerland, stars as Hannah. Vikings and Patrick’s Day-star Moe Dunford will also feature in an unspecified role, while other actors are awaiting confirmation.
Producers Fastnet Films and Samsa Films have been casting for extras in Ireland and Luxembourg respectively to play famine victims, searching for men and women with gaunt faces and thin bodies. In addition to Luxembourg, shooting will take place in Wicklow and Connemara from January 6th to 28th.
Black ’47 is the feature adaptation of PJ Dillon and Pierce Ryan’s award-winning short An Ranger (pictured above), with Eugene O’Brien (Eden, The Flag) drafted in for additional material. Macdara Kelleher of Fastnet Film produces, alongside ArtCastle’s Jonathan Loughran and Bernard Michaux for Samsa Films. Kelleher has worked on Irish-Luxembourg co-productions before, most notably Mammal and Love Eternal, while Michaux also co-produced the Ireland-Luxembourg co-production The Runway in 2010. It has received funding support from Film Fund Luxembourg, Eurimages, and the Irish Film Board. Altitude Film Entertainment will handle international sales for the film.
For those who didn't make the connection, the the epaulettes of the protagonist identify him as a soldier of the 88th Regiment of Foot; the Connaught Rangers, better known in the British Army as the "Devil's Own" for good reason, not least their expertise in close quarter combat. Not someone you would want knocking on your door with a grudge against you...