9 July 2020 The Irish Film & Television Network
Shooting wraps on Zanzibar Films ‘Sanctuary’ in Galway
21 Jan 2016 : Seán Brosnan
Lead actor Kieran Coppinger playing Larry in ‘Sanctuary’
Filming has been completed in Galway on Christian O’Reilly’s ‘Sanctuary’, the feature film of his acclaimed stage play, which was originally commissioned and produced by Blue Teapot Theatre Company. The film was produced by Zanzibar Films’ Edwina Forkin, directed by Len Collin and DP was Russell Gleeson.

The cast was led by Kieran Coppinger and Charlene Kelly. It also stars Michael Hayes, Emer Macken, Paul Connolly, Frank Butcher, Patrick Becker, Jennifer Cox and Valerie Egan. All are members of Blue Teapot, a multi award winning theatre company for people with intellectual disabilities.

Edwina Forkin of Zanzibar films stated: “Principal photography has finished on ‘Sanctuary’ after a fabulous five week shoot. I was blown away by the Teapots (the Blue Teapot actors), who worked so hard and who were utter professional every step of the way. I loved the way the cast and crew gelled and I’m thrilled by the work of Len Collin, Director and Russell Gleeson, DP, and costume designer - Sonja Mohlich and production designer Eleanor Wood, who made Galway look like a magical Christmas wonderland. I am also grateful to the people of Galway, who made shooting so easy for us; we couldn’t have made this film without their extraordinary energy and participation.”

Director Len Collin commented: “The cast and crew of ‘Sanctuary’ have been nothing short of exceptional. The actors in particular have faced incredible challenges as they tackled long days, lots of lines and the artifice of a working film set for the first time. It’s been a very special experience for all of us.”

Lead actor Kieran Coppinger said: “Len is just Len. He’s amazing. Great to work with. A gas ticket. Everyone in the crew was amazing. Such fun to work with. Let’s do it again!”

‘Sanctuary’ is a unique film in that it employs a large cast of actors with intellectual disabilities, ranging from Autism to Down's. According to Len Collin, “At the moment there are a handful of actors with Down Syndrome in the world that have careers in front of the camera. Five of our actors have down's and they are all defined by their ability as actors rather than their disabilities set against societal norms. This film will go some way to changing people’s perceptions of those with autism and down's in particular. It is beautifully written and well observed with a great deal of humour and pathos.”

‘Sanctuary’ tells the story of Larry (Coppinger) and Sophie (Kelly), (who has severe epilepsy) Who are attracted to each other and, through a care worker Tom (Robert Doherty), they sneak away during a supervised cinema trip, to a hotel room.

What do they do once they are there? Are they aware that in Ireland they are about to break the law? While these questions are posed, the rest of their colleagues seek out their own challenges: an impromptu shopping trip, pints in the pub and a surreptitious cuddle in front of a movie screen. These simple challenges and triumphs offset the dramatic challenges that take place in a Galway hotel room between two people who refuse to be defined by their disabilities.

Writer Christian O’Reilly commented: “When Blue Teapot’s artistic director Petal Pilley commissioned the play, she wanted to start a conversation about the discrimination people with ID experience in having relationships. My hope is that our film will continue this conversation while also entertaining audiences. I am grateful to Len, his crew and the cast for their extraordinary work.”

Alan Maher on Producing
Fiona Graham on Cinematography
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