Colm Bairéad interview: ‘The Quiet Girl’ director

“It’s an honor to have been selected by the Irish Film and Television Academy,” says director Colm Bairéad, whose film “The Quiet Girl” has been selected as Ireland’s official entry for Best International Feature at the 95th Academy Awards. “We’re incredibly proud that this is not only an Irish film, but it’s also an Irish language film. Historically the Irish language has been underrepresented in Irish cinema. It’s the official language of Ireland, but it’s actually a minority language and it’s UNESCO’s endangered languages list. We’re very proud to have a film that’s speaking to the world in our own native tongue.”

We talked with Bairéad as part of Gold Derby’s special “Meet the Experts” Q&A event with 2022/2023 awards contenders. Watch our exclusive video interview above.

“The Quiet Girl” takes place in rural Ireland in 1981. A quiet, neglected girl is sent away from her dysfunctional family to live with foster parents for the summer. She blossoms in their care, but in this house where there are meant to be no secrets, she discovers one. It’s based on the 2010 novella “Foster” by author Claire Keegan.

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The Super Neon film is not only Bairéad’s first feature, but the young star Catherine Clinch‘s debut onscreen. “It took us seven months to find her,” the director reveals. “We were seeing hundreds of people in open auditions. Then COVID came along and we had to shift to self tapes. Because it’s an Irish-language story, you need someone who’s fluent in the language. Luckily there is a network of primary schools in Ireland that are entirely Irish-language based. They are minority within the education system, but they do exist. We basically used that network. We put out a call to those schools for anyone who would be interested in auditioning.”

“We got a self-tape in from Catherine Clinch and it was just incredible,” Bairéad continues. “She just had this innate understanding of the character and she understood this was a young girl who had learned to push all of her emotions inward. Even though she had never acted in front of a camera before, she had this willingness to allow the camera to see her. She set the tone for the whole film. In a strange way we were all kind of following her. It was really quite extraordinary.”

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UPLOADED Nov 29, 2022 8:54 am