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Dance First starring Gabriel Byrne to close San Sebastian Film Festival
22 Aug 2023 : Luke Shanahan
Gabriel Byrne in Dance First
The Samuel Beckett biopic Dance First will close the San Sebastian Film Festival this year, playing out of competition. The film is directed by James Marsh, and stars Gabriel Byrne as the iconic Irish playwright.

Dance First, a portrait of Irish playwright Samuel Beckett, will screen out of competition at the San Sebastian Film Festival, marking its World Premiere. The film stars Gabriel Byrne (The Usual Suspects, Hereditary) as Samuel Beckett, and Aidan Gillen (Barber, The Dark Knight Rises) as James Joyce. 

The cast also includes Fionn O’Shea (Handsome Devil, Normal People) as a younger Beckett, Bronagh Gallagher (The Commitments, Pulp Fiction) as Nora Barnacle, Maxine Peake (The Theory of Everything, Black Mirror) as Barbara Bray, Barry O'Connor (Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, Game of Thrones) as William Beckett, Lisa Dwyer Hogg as May Beckett (The Fall), Caroline Boulton (Infinity Pool) as Sylvia Beach, and Gráinne Good (The Citadel) as Lucia Joyce.

Sandrine Bonnaire, winner of two Césars and a Volpi Cup from the 1995 Venice Festival for Claude Chabrol’s The Ceremony, plays Beckett’s wife, Suzanne Dechevaux-Dumesnil. 

Dance First will explore many aspects of Beckett’s life: Parisian bon vivant, World War II Resistance fighter, Nobel Prize-winning playwright, philandering husband, and recluse.

The film is directed by James Marsh (The Theory of Everything, Man on Wire) and written by Neil Forsyth (Guilt, The Gold). Dance First is a Belgium/UK/Hungary co-production, and was developed with Sky Arts. It is produced by Michael Livingstone and Tom Thostrup for 2LE Media, and Viktória Petrányi for Hungary’s Proton Cinema (Pieces of a Woman, Midsommar). It is a co-production of Proton Cinema, Umedia, and Constellation Production.

Dance First will have its World Premiere at the San Sebastian Film Festival, on September 30th.

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