The life and times of a rural cinema in Tipperary is itself set to come to life on the silver screen as filming commences this month in North Tipperary and parts of South Tipperary on Stella Days, a feature-length film based on Michael Doorley's book 'Stella Days 1957-1967: The Life and Times of a Rural Irish Cinema. And the star of the film, other than the Stella, is Hollywood veteran and Golden Globe winner Martin Sheen, whose mother was a native of Borrisokane in Tipperary before emi
As well as Sheen, the Newgrange Pictures production which is directed by Thaddeus O'Sullivan (Ordinary Decent Criminal) will star Stephen Rea (The Crying Game), Romola Garai (Atonement) and it is believed that Amy Huberman (The Clinic) has also been signed up for it. The screenplay is written by Antoine O'Flathartha and will be produced by Jackie Larkin (Kings) and Maggie Pope of Newgrange Pictures.
Doorley's book was set in 1950s Ireland during an economic recession and tells the story of Daniel Barry, parish priest of Borrisokane who feels like the wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong time. Although he works hard to fulfil his duty, he has nothing in common with his parishioners and secretly fears he has lost his vocation. The things that make his life worthwhile - music, his daily swims in the lake and, especially, the cinema - he enjoys alone. When forced by his Bishop to start a big fund-raisingcampaign, he attempts to reconcile his passion for film with his duty to the Church through the creation of the Stella Cinema.
In Ireland in the mid-1950s rural electrification is underway, young people are leaving for work in England, and the Bishops are becoming worried about the position and power of the Church in this changing world. Bishop Hegerty wants to build bigger, new churches across the diocese that will be the focus of community life. Father Barry is in favour of modernisation, but doesn't see the need for a new church. Encouraged by the new schoolteacher, Tim McCarthy, he decides to follow his passion and establish a local cinema in Borrisokane, bringing light and joy to the town and, at the same time, raising funds for the new church. But he faces plenty of opposition: from the Bishop and a number of influential parishioners, led by Brendan McSweeny, who see film as a source of moral corruption; from locals who doubt they can transform a church hall into a proper cinema in a few weeks; and ultimately from his own crisis of conscience when he discovers that Tim has fallen in love with Molly Phelan, a married woman.