With the Oscar nominations announced tomorrow (January 14th), we caught up with director Paddy Breathnach to talk about ‘Viva’ which is on the shortlist for the Best Foreign Language Oscar.
Speaking at an event at the Clarence Hotel where the Irish Film Board launched their 2016 slate of productions – Breathnach said that the story of ‘Viva’ – which follows an eighteen year old Cuban, who is lost and struggling to realize his true identity – is inspired by his own trip to Cuba 20 years previously.
“We were in this club and we saw a drag performer on the stage and beside us was a woman crying. It turns out that she was crying because it was her brother on stage and she said the only time he was happy was when he was performing”, said Breathnach.
The seeds were very much sewn, and acclaimed writer Mark O’Halloran (‘Adam and Paul’) was brought in to write the script while Paddy and Treasure producer Rob Walpole sought funding.
‘Viva’ has so far screened to acclaim at Telluride and other international festivals with publications such as Deadline and Indiewire praising the film. Closer to home and the film screened for the first time in Ireland last week at an IFTA Members First Look Screening where it earned a standing ovation. Jim Sheridan called the film “the most poetic film I've seen in years. Liberating.”
Breathnach stated that he never thought about the possibility of the film being considered for the Foreign Language Oscar until it premiered to a rapturous reception at Telluride in September: “Well, it’s a Hollywood audience so when it premiered there and got such a good reception, we started to realise its’ potential and that we could put it into that conversation. But, it wouldn’t have really entered into our heads before that.”
The film was selected by the Irish Film & Television Academy (IFTA) as Ireland’s submission for the Foreign Language category in September 2015, along with 80 other films in contention worldwide. At the end of 2016 – a shortlist of nine was announced with ‘Viva’ on the list. With major US trades such as Indiewire predicting ‘Viva’ will be nominated, how does the director feel about the film’s chances?
“I think we are in with a reasonable chance but you just don’t know”, said Breathnach, who is currently developing productions with Treasure Entertainment and Element Pictures. “The film has already had a great life and to just be included in the Oscar conversation is fantastic and it obviously would be nice to go to the Oscars and celebrate the film. We hope that happens but we will have to wait and see.”
The Oscar nominations are announced on January 14th. Check out the trailer below: