10 December 2023 The Irish Film & Television Network
Eileen Gray biopic ‘The Price of Desire’ and companion doc ‘Gray Matters’ released to cinemas this weekend
25 May 2016 : Seán Brosnan
Orla Brady was IFTA nominated for her portrayal of Eileen Gray
Eileen Gray, a universally lauded Irish furniture designer, feminist icon, architect and pioneer of the Modern Movement (known as the Irish Mother of Modernism) in architecture whose influential contribution to 20th century architecture was almost entirely wiped from history, will see not one but two films released about her life this weekend.

This Friday, May 27th sees the limited theatrical release of the Eileen Gray biopic ‘The Price of Desire’ - written, directed and produced by Mary McGuckian and starring Orla Brady in the leading role. ‘Gray Matters’, a companion documentary by Marco Antonio Orsini and produced by McGuckian will also screen this weekend in Dublin and London.

‘The Price Of Desire’ is the controversial story of how Eileen Gray’s (1878-1976) influential contribution to 20th century architecture and design was almost entirely wiped from history by the egotistical ‘Father of Modernism’ Le Corbusier, and of how her relationship with philanderer Jean Badovici (Le Corbusier’s promoter by way of his influential architectural publication L’Architecture Vivante) further fuelled the rift between the two architects, both personally and professionally, consigning the Irish woman’s legacy to a century of neglect and long-overdue recognition.

Set substantially on the Côte d’Azur in and around her most abiding work, the villa e1027, ‘The Price of Desire’ explores the events and details surrounding Le Corbusier’s eventual erasure of Gray’s very ownership of the house, and re-attribution of its design by omission to the chauvinistic men in her life, essentially stripping Gray of the right to be recognized as the author of her own work.

Orla Brady’s performance as Gray was recognised by Irish Academy Members when she received an IFTA Award nomination. At the Academy screening of the film, McGuckian commended Brady’s performance stating “With a flawless Anglo Irish accent in both English and French, ageing from 30 years of age to her death at 98, Orla's instinctive intelligence and experience meet all the substantial demands of the narrative and remind us that she is an Irish actress of international stature to be reckoned with”.

The New York based publication The Upcoming also praised Brady’s performance writing that “Orla Brady depicts the architect exactly as one would imagine her: elegant, complex, and expressive through her talent more than with her words”. The publication went on to state that “The Price of Desire helps ensure that Gray’s legacy is not only recognised but that her name is brought to prominence in a field that she helped transform”.

‘The Price of Desire’, directed and produced by Mary McGuckian (who previously helmed lauded features such as ‘Words Upon the Window Pane’ and ‘This Is The Sea’) from her own script, also stars Swiss actor Vincent Perez as Le Corbusier. Canadian actress and singer Alanis Morissette and Italian actor Francesco Scianna play her lovers, the famous French singer, Marisa Damia and architectural critic Jean Badovici, respectively.

Filming took place in Eileen Gray's actual French villa, the e1027 Villa in Roquebrune Cap Martin, which McGucian crucially helped get restored in advance of making the film - with other locations including Vezelay in France and Monev Studios in Brussels, where many of the Parisian interiors were re-created. Post-production took place at Windmill Lane Pictures. Other Irish talent involved include costume designer Peter O’Brien, and IFTA winner and Golden Globe nominated Brian Byrne (Albert Nobbs).

The film is a European co-production between EG Film Productions Limited of Ireland and Saga Film in Belgium, in association with Fabrica de Cine and Katie Heidy's US based Liberty Liquid Films and Rush River Entertainment. The film also has the support of The Irish Film Board, S481, BNP Paribas Fortis Film Fund with the support of the Media Production Guarantee Fund and Audiovisual Aval S.G.R.

‘Gray Matters’, a companion documentary by Marco Antonio Orsini and produced by Mary McGuckian, explores the long, fascinating life and complicated career of architect and designer Eileen Gray, whose uncompromising vision defined and defied the practice of modernism in decoration, design and architecture.

In Ireland, screenings of ‘The Price of Desire’ take place in the Light House Cinema, Dublin, Triskel Arts Centre, Cork and Eye Cinema, Galway. ‘Gray Matters’ will also screen on Saturday, May 28th at the Light House Cinema.

For a complete list of screenings of both films, click here.

IFTN Festive Q&A with actor Albrecht Schuch
IFTN Festive Q&A with director Luke McManus
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