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Bankside Films announce acquisition of sci-fi thriller Woken; Alan Friel's debut feature
10 Nov 2020 : Nathan Griffin
Writer/Director Alan Friel
Bankside Films has announced its acquisition of Woken, which will see Alan Friel make his feature debut as writer and director with the project due to begin principal photography in Ireland next year.

Friel has previously directed several shorts including Cake starring Maxine Peake and Letitia Wright, which won the London Independent Film Award for Best Comedy/ Dramedy short, and Best International Short at the Kinsale Shark Awards.

“We were captivated by Alan’s short film, Cake, which immediately announced him as one of Ireland’s most exciting new directors,” said Bankside Films’ Stephen Kelliher. “The story of Woken is as thrilling as it is emotive and we are thrilled to bring it to the world with such a dynamic cast and crew.”

The film reunites the Irish director with BAFTA Award nominee Maxine Peake (Peterloo, Funny Cow, The Theory of Everything, The Falling) who will star alongside BAFTA Award winner Naomi Ackie (Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker, End of the F***ing World, Yardie, Lady Macbeth).

“I am excited to be working with my ideal main cast Naomi Ackie and Maxine Peake who are two of the most talented actors at the moment and who will bring great depth to their roles as Anna and Helen,” said Director Alan Friel. “I’m also very delighted to be working with Fantastic Films and Bankside Films who have been wonderfully supportive in bringing this story to the screen. Woken will be a tense sci-fi thriller with a strong emotional heartbeat and surprises around every corner.”

The film is produced by Brendan McCarthy, John McDonnell, and Deirdre Levins of Fantastic Films whose credits include Vivarium (official selection at Cannes Critics Week 2019 and winner of the Gan Foundation Support for Distribution)TIFF Discovery 2019 opener Sea Fever, and Wake Wood.  The film was developed with the support of Screen Ireland.

An unfamiliar room. An unfamiliar bed. Faces she doesn’t recognise and a remote island she has no memory of.

When Anna wakes up from an accident without any memory of who she is or the family she left behind, she is forced to re-learn everything about herself, including her husband and the baby she is carrying. She is fed information by controlling, yet kind, strangers about an idyllic past life but a nagging uneasiness plagues her, leading her to question everything she is told.

When two disfigured men arrive on the island and there is a violent altercation, she discovers that the human race is close to extinction, forcing her to escape the controlling hands of the strangers to discover the truth about herself. When she learns that she is part of an experiment designed to re-populate the planet, she has to fight to save her life and that of her unborn child before her captors kill them both.

“Woken is an exciting sci-fi story shot through with nail-biting tension, a huge heart and marvellous plot twists,” said Producers Brendan McCarthy, John McDonnell, and Deirdre Levins. “We are looking forward to collaborating with visionary film-maker Alan Friel and our amazing cast to realise this stand out project.”

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