A widow who gave up on life is convinced that a stray dog is the reincarnation of her husband.
That’s the wacky plot of Róise & Frank, which is one of more than a dozen films on the Irish Film Festival (IFF) program starting today.
The IFF will be screened in Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra, Perth and Melbourne, with a selection of films available online.
Róise & Frank is part of the digital program.
Along with Rachael Moriarty, Peter Murphy is co-writer and co-director of the award-winning Irish-language film.
“I guess our goal was always to make a film that deals with grief, really important grief due to loss, in a light, comedic way,” Murphy told ABC News.
Grief was a topic Murphy and Moriarty wanted to explore because it’s something most people, including the creative team, had experienced.
“I guess it’s so universal,” Murphy said.
“We were fascinated by the idea of what people would consider excessive grief.
“We have a very strong tradition in Ireland, it’s probably the same in Australia, but there’s a very old tradition of the wake.
“And an Irish funeral is a special type of funeral.
“So you have a wake, where traditionally people would come to your house, the body would have been laid out. A lot of alcohol would have been consumed.
“Stories would have been shared about the person who died, the next day the person will be buried and then you are expected to move on.”
Murphy said that in addition to marking someone’s death a month later with another traditional event, people are essentially expected to get over it.
“So we were sort of fascinated by the idea that for some people it’s impossible,” he said.
“For some people, grief takes over their lives, they struggle and we wanted to tell a story about that.”
“Tragedy and comedy are so close”
Don’t be fooled though. Róise & Frank is not a dark film.
Murphy said they have also heard many stories from people about signs from beyond the grave, such as animals that have never appeared before, visiting mourners.
Róise & Frank takes this to the extreme in an easy-to-watch heartwarming film.
“We had quite a few people crying, people coming up to us and saying ‘oh my God, I don’t cry at the movies, and I was crying, but I was also laughing’ and I think people find that a very enjoyable combination .
“Tragedy and comedy are so close. I certainly appreciate when it’s close to reality, when it feels relevant, and yet there’s a touch of comedy.”
A nation “obsessed” with pleasure
Murphy said most Irish people can find humor in most things, but he’s not sure what he attributes it to.
“We’re very quick to say 800 years of oppression…you have to have a sense of humor,” Murphy said.
“But I do not know.
“But the Irish are sort of obsessed with being seen as having the craic (having fun).
“The worst thing you can say about a person is that they have no madness. So if someone has no madness, it is beyond belief. damnation.
“There’s nothing more damning than that about an Irishman. And that basically means they’re no fun. So we’re kind of obsessed with that as a nation.
“And I think we know our reputation as people who are supposed to be fun and have good crazy things. Where that comes from, I don’t know.”
The 2023 Irish Film Festival will screen from October 5 to November 5, with selected films screening online until October 15. For a full list of films, visit the Irish Film Festival website.