Stella Days

Stella Days

Martin Sheen (Father Daniel Barry) in STELLA DAYS, a film directed by Thaddeus O'Sullivan and distributed by Tribeca Film. Photo credit: JC Roselund.

Stella Days

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Inspired by the Memoir:
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Stills Photographer:
  • John O'Donnell
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* Most external filmography links go to The Internet Movie Database.

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Stella Days (2011/2012)

Opened: 06/22/2012 Limited

Quad Cinema/NYC06/22/2012 - 06/28/20127 days

Trailer: Click for trailer

Websites: Home

Genre: Drama

Rated: Unrated


A small town cinema in rural Ireland in the 1950s becomes the setting for a dramatic struggle between Rome and Hollywood, and a man and his conscience. Martin Sheen (THE WAY, THE DEPARTED, "The West Wing") stars as Father Daniel Berry in a story about the excitement of the unknown versus the security of the familiar, as those in the town find themselves on the cusp of the modern but still clinging to the traditions of church and a cultural identity forged in very different times.

Director's Statement

Reading an early draft of the Antoine O'Flatharta script of STELLA DAYS I was surprised how much I identified with the priest and his crisis of faith. I thought this may be the perfect character to dramatize the contradictions at the heart of the 1950s in Ireland and of our remembrance of it (real and imagined).

Antoine always said it was hard to write a 1950s priest today, colored as our attitudes are by the recent revelations about the Church. Anyway, Catholic priests in movies -- even the most innocent priests in the most innocent movies -- have always had, it seemed to us, "something of the night about them". For me, the particular "darkness" that Father Barry wrestles with is a loss of purpose, a loss of conviction in his vocation, and it was exactly this confusion that attracted me. Stubborn and proud as he is, Father Barry is a man who comes to doubt profoundly in his right to judge, to exercise power and authority within the community, as much as he doubts that he knows the will of God -- while remaining deeply spiritual. This makes him deeply human, and a Humanist. If it was the priest's crisis that first attracted me to the project, it was his opening of a cinema in the town and his belief that this would be a superior way to communicate with his congregation that convinced me this was a film that would be fun to make. Brought up a devout Catholic I knew about faith, but by the time I got out of Ireland (at age 18) I think I too had more trust in the cinema than I ever had in the church!

The film opens in 1956 when The Rural Electrification Scheme was still pushing into the far corners of Ireland, wiring up every home, church and cowshed. So, while factions within the Church and State conspired to keep Holy Ireland in social and cultural darkness, there was some light appearing on the horizon -- though very little in the way of enlightenment. Irish life and culture at that time had to be protected from 'foreign influences.' Anyone growing up in the country then (and for a long time after!) knew that that phrase was an open invitation to seek out what was not on offer-- to find the banned book, to see the film, or listen to the music that was causing such consternation. Growing up in 1950s Ireland most of us submitted to a world defined by the Church and to a State whose politicians were in its thrall. Many of these were pious devotees of the fantasy vision of its President (de Valera) - "A land whose countryside would be bright with cozy homesteads, joyous with the sounds of industry, ...with the romping of sturdy children, the contest of athletic youths and the laughter of happy maidens " -- a vision of little relevance to the ordinary people of Ireland then.

So, in this time, when there was much insidious oppression and not so much to laugh about, there was much fun to be had in the film, depicting the pious Politician (a hilarious Stephen Rea) and the hypocritical Bishop (whose twin passions are building churches and renouncing Hollywood) pursuing their missions with myopic and deadly earnestness. Billy Wilder said, "If you are going to tell people the truth, be funny or they'll kill you". Looking back, you have to laugh...or else...

-- Thaddeus O'Sullivan, Director

Cast Biographies

MARTIN SHEEN (Father Daniel Barry)

One of America's most celebrated journeyman actors, Martin Sheen made his Broadway debut in 1964, originating the role of Mike in Never Live Under a Pretzel Factory. The next year, he earned a Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actor in a Play for the role of Timmy Clearly in the Pulitzer Prize-winning play The Subject Was Roses. Sheen reprised his role in the feature film version of the same name. Sheen went on to gain international fame for his star turn role as Captain Benjamin L. Willard in Francis Ford Coppola's landmark film APOCALYPSE NOW. Film credits also include THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT, BADLANDS, BOBBY, CATCH ME IF YOU CAN, THE DEPARTED, GANDHI, and WALL STREET. Most recently he starred in THE WAY, written and directed by his son Emilio Estevez. In July, Sheen stars as Uncle Ben Parker in Columbia Pictures THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. For television, Sheen is perhaps best recognized for playing fictional U.S. President Josiah Bartlet on the long-running series "The West Wing." For his acting, Sheen has garnered nearly 70 major awards and honors, including thirteen Emmy Award nominations and eight Golden Globe Award nominations. Sheen is also a passionate peace and justice activist. He is the 2008 recipient of Notre Dame University's Laetare Medal, the oldest and most prestigious award for American Catholics.


Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Stephen Rea's tenure at Dublin's renowned Abbey Theatre afforded him extensive stage work in England. In 1980, he co-founded the Field Day Theatre with Irish playwright Brian Friel.

Stephen Rea appeared in several TV productions before making his first notable performance on the big screen in 1982's ANGEL, Neil Jordan's directorial debut. But it wasn't until THE CRYING GAME, a decade later, that Stephen Rea would make Hollywood sit up and take notice. His performance as an IRA gunman who falls for the fiancee of his victim earned Rea an Oscar nomination as best actor.

Notable films followed, including INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE, MICHAEL COLLINS, THE BUTCHER BOY, THIS IS MY FATHER, and THE END OF THE AFFAIR and BREAKFAST WITH PLUTO, his eighth collaboration with Neil Jordan.

Stephen Rea continues to do strong work on television and in the theatre. In 1996, he gave an acclaimed performance as the accused Lindbergh baby kidnapper Bruno Richard Hauptmann in HBO's "Crime of the Century." More recently, he directed and starred in an adaptation of Sean O'Casey play The Plough and the Stars at the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin. In 2011 he appeared to chilling effect in the British television thriller "The Shadow Line."


Trystan trained at RADA and has played leading roles at The Royal Shakespeare Company, The Globe and most recently two stand out leading roles at The National Theatre in Edgar and Annabel and 13.

His film credits include THE REAL AMERICAN and ANONYMOUS and he is currently shooting the leading role of Victor Colleano in the highly anticipated "Mr. Selfridge" for ITV.


Born in Wicklow, Marcella Plunkett has worked extensively in theatre, television and film in the UK and Ireland.

At the National Theatre in London, Marcella appeared in Exiles and Aristocrats, and at the no less prestigious Donmar Warehouse, she appeared in Phaedra. In Ireland, she has played many venues including the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin in The Plough and the Stars, the Lyric, Belfast in Shadow of a Gunman and the Red Kettle in Waterford in Mackerel Sky. Her most recent appearance was as Sister James in the London premiere of Doubt directed by Nicolas Kent at the Tricycle Theatre, London.

Marcella's film credits include Zonad, Once, On the Edge, Cinderella, Country, Falling for a Dancer and A Kind of Hush. She recently played a leading role in Swansong: Story of Occi Byrne, an independent Irish feature film directed by Conor McDermottroe. She has a leading role in The Rafters, written and directed by John Carney. On television Marcella is best known as Alison on all three seasons of the Irish hit series "Bachelors Walk." She appeared as Maura, a leading role in "Single Handed III - The Drowning Man" directed by Antony Byrne and Ellen in the third series of "Raw." Most recently she filmed a lead role in a horror film with French director Marina de Van called DARK TOUCH due for release later this year.

TOM HICKEY (Bishop Hegerty)

Tom trained with Deirdre O'Connell at the Stanislavski Studio, Dublin, and with Deirdre was a founder member of Dublin Focus Theatre.

He has worked extensively at Ireland's national theatre, The Abbey, from the seventies onwards, notably in Brecht's Galileo (title role), Of Mice and Men, Saint Joan, Ionesco's What a Blood Circus. He created leading roles at The Abbey in the world premieres of significant new Irish drama, including Tom Murphy's The Gigli Concert, Brian Friel's Give Me Your Answer Do, Frank McGuinness's Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme, Michael Harding's Misogynist and and in the world premiere of Tom Muphy's The Last Days of a Reluctant Tyrant. For writer Marina Carr he appeared at The Abbey in Portia Coughlan, By the Bog of Cats and On Raftery's Hill directed by Garry Hynes for Druid Theatre and performing at Dublin's Gate Theatre and on tour to the US.

At The Abbey, all through the eighties, he played in and collaborated with writer Tom MacIntyre and director Patrick Mason on several Theatre-of-the-Image plays, including the sensational and highly acclaimed The Great Hunger, as well as The Bearded Lady, Dance For Your Daddy, Rise Up Lovely Sweeney and Snow White. These plays introduced a whole new populace to a radical and unique form of theatre. Subsequently Hickey directed MacIntyre's Sheep's Milk on the Boil (Abbey Theatre) and Chickadee (Red Kettle Theatre Company). He appeared in MacIntyre's one-man play The Gallant John-Joe at the Edinburgh Festival in 2002 and in New York in 2003.

A frequent player at the renowned Gate Theatre Dublin, Hickey has appeared in Heartbreak House, Waiting for Godot, Aristocrats, Three Sisters, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Lady Windermere's Fan and Endgame. He played in That Time and Piece of a Momologue in the Gate's Samuel Beckett Festival at New York's Lincoln Center.

His most important roles on the British stage include Jack in Conor McPherson's The Weir in London's West End and UK tour, Joxer in O'Casey's Juno and the Paycock at the National Theatre, Ephriam Cabot in O'Neill's Desire Under the Elms at the Greenwich Theatre, The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other by Peter Handke at the National Theatre and Nagg in Theatre de Complicitie's Endgame at the Duchess Theatre


Television credits include "Black Day at Black Rock" (RTE), "The Bill" (ITV), "Seascape" (RTE), "The Treaty" (RTE), "Valentine Fall" (Channel 4), "Saracen" (Central/ITV), "The Manions of America" (ABC), "Play for Today" (BBC), and "The Riordans" (RTE).

Tom most recently appeared on on stage in Sebastian Barry's Boss Grady's Boys at the Gaiety Theatre and in Hugo Hamilton's The Speckled People at the Gate.


Dublin born Amy Huberman made her first appearance on television in the RTE drama "On Home Ground." She went on to appear as Bella in "The Showbands" directed by Ian Fitzgibbon for Parallel Films/RTE, "Dream Team 80's" (ITV), "Camera Cafe" (RTE) and "George Gently "(BBC). On Irish television Amy is perhaps best known as the much loved character Daisy O'Callaghan who appeared in all seven season of "The Clinic" produced by Parallel Films for RTE Television and for which she was nominated as Best Supporting Actress at the Irish Television Awards in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Other television credits include comedy sketch show "Your Bad Self" directed by John Butler for Treasure Films/RTE and Channel 4's "Comedy Lab."

On film Amy has appeared in independent Irish features SATELLITES AND METEORITES directed by Rick Larkin for iWire Films (for which she won the Jury Award at the Ft.Lauderdale Film Festival), A FILM WITH ME IN IT opposite Dylan Moran and Mark Doherty and directed by Ian Fitzgibbon for Parallel Films and REWIND directed by P.J.Dillon for which she won the IFTA for Best Lead Actress Film in 2011.

Amy recently appeared in a leading role opposite Fionuala Flanagan in "Three Wise Women," produced by Parallel Films for Hallmark Channel (US) and as the female lead in "Chasing Leprechauns" also for Hallmark Channel/Parallel Films. Her most role in STELLA DAYS she has been nominated for a Best Supporting Actress (Film) Award in the 2012 IFTA's.

Amy most recently appeared on television in the lead role of Alice in the Comedy Central (UK) comedy drama "Threesome" which attracted rave reviews and record viewing figures and for which she has been nominated for a Glamour Award (2012) for Comedy Actress. Season two of "Threesome" is expected to shoot in Spring 2012 in the UK.

Filmmaker Biographies


Jackie Larkin is a highly experienced and sought after producer who has been involved in Ireland's film and independent television industry for the past 15 years. Jackie is joint managing director of Newgrange Pictures a film company formed in December 2003 and is currently developing a slate of feature film projects for the international market.

She started out as a line producer working with EMDEE Productions on documentaries such as WATERWAYS IV (Broadcast on RTE, Channel 4, Discovery Europe), THE LAST WALTZ (RTE, Channel 4) and FROM THE HORSES MOUTH (RTE, The Travel Channel, Discovery Europe). She then joined COCO Television to produce successful series such as "Our House" and the award winning documentary series "The Gap in the Mountain." Jackie was particularly interested in the field of creative documentary and went on to produce one off projects such as "Needle and the Damage Done" (RTE), "Ahakista" (RTE, Vision TV Canada), "When Peace Talks" (RTE, UTV), and the specially commissioned millennium series "Nation Building." She also produced the critically acclaimed drama documentary A CALL TO ARMS.

Jackie's interest in drama started when she worked as line producer on the BBC 10 x 10 short film THE ROPE TRICK. Since then she has clocked up a range of drama experience from television dramas such as "Ballykissangel" and the award winning factual drama "No Tears" (starring Brenda Fricker), to short dramas such as "Before I Sleep" (RTE, Irish Film Board), "Waterloo Dentures" (Irish Film Board) and the short film THE FIRST TELEVISION which has screened at many international film festivals and was distributed nationwide by Buena Vista. Other short films include THE FAMILY TREE and LAST NIGHT which recently screened at the prestigious Manhattan Film Festival.

Jackie's first feature film KINGS, starring Colm Meaney was Ireland's first ever official entry to the foreign language category of the Academy Awards. The film has been screened at many international film festivals to include Toronto, Taormina, Pusan, Dinard and the Hamptons. KINGS is one of Ireland's few bi-lingual films which was financed entirely within Ireland with funding coming from the Broadcast Commission of Ireland, TG4, The Irish Film Board & The Northern Ireland Film & Television Commission.

She is member of ACE Producers Network and graduated from the Media Business School 2003.

MAGGIE POPE (Producer)

Following a career in community development Maggie took a change of direction in 1989 when she joined Majestic Films, a leading feature film sales company, with responsibility for development and acquisitions. Feature films financed by the company included DRIVING MISS DAISY, V, and DANCES WITH WOLVES. Majestic had a growing slate of films in development and expanded into international television. In 1996 she joined Little Bird, an independent production company based in the UK and Ireland, whose feature credits included INTO THE WEST, A MAN OF NO IMPORTANCE, NOTHING PERSONAL, and MY MOTHER'S COURAGE. While based in the London office of Little Bird she worked on the development of a number of feature films including ALL FOR LOVE, ORDINARY DECENT CRIMINAL, CROUPIER, ADIOS and a a variety of TV dramas including "Dirty Tricks."

Maggie then went on to become Head of Development at the Little Bird Company responsible for feature film and television drama development. She was based in the Dublin office between January 2001 and December 2003 developing Irish based TV drama and feature projects. She was associate producer on "Relative Strangers," a four part drama for RTE and NRW(Germany) starring Brenda Fricker and directed by Giles Foster. She devised the original 8 part drama series for RTE, "On Home Ground," and was associate producer of the series. She developed and was associate producer of "No Tears," based on the Hepatitis C scandal in Ireland, written by Brian Phelan, directed by Stephen Burke and starring Brenda Fricker, Tina Kelleher and Maria Doyle Kennedy which won best mini-series at the Monte Carlo Film and Television Awards 2002. She has just completed developing a drama series for television based on short stories by Maeve Binchy and script editing a number of independent feature film projects in Ireland.

Maggie has just recently been appointed as Head of Development at Newgrange Pictures where she oversees all of the development slate in the company and progresses projects from development through to production.


Lesley McKimm has been working in film and television since 1991 and initially worked for many of the main Irish production companies including Temple Films (now Element), Treasure Films and Little Bird. With these companies she worked in a variety of roles including, producer, line producer, production manager, post-production supervisor and script development.

She became a producer in 1995 with the award winning short film 81, written and directed by Stephen Burke, which won numerous international awards. Other work in the late 1990's included "Relative Strangers" - 4 x 50 television drama series starring Brenda Fricker, for RTE and WDR (for Little Bird), "In Search of Ancient Ireland" -- 3 x 1 hour documentary series for PBS and RTE (for Little Bird & Cafe), "Home" - a series of six half-hour documentaries for RTE (for Treasure Films) and SOUTHPAW -- feature length documentary which was released theatrically in Ireland and the UK and screened at Sundance (for Treasure Films as Line Producer).

She set up her own production company Comet Films in 1998 where she produced the 6 part drama series "Any Time Now" in 2002, for BBC 1, RTE 1 & The Irish Film Board, and "No Tears" (4x1 hour) for RTE 1, in association with Little Bird, and the 35mm short film NO NO NO (directed by Stephen Bradley). She also produced the Arts Lives documentary TO BE OR NOT TO BE for RTE, the Arts Council of Ireland and the Irish Film Board, and the theatre show A Heart of Cork, for Cork 2005.

"No Tears" starred Brenda Fricker, Maria Doyle Kennedy and Tina Kellegher and was one of the most watched dramas on RTE. It won the Golden Nymph for best drama at Monte Carlo in 2002 and was selected as one of three Irish projects at INPUT in 2003. "Any Time Now" has sold to Australia (ABC), New Zealand (TVNZ), Finland (Channel 4) and Sweden (SVT) and won awards for Susan Lynch, Angeline Ball and Ruth McCabe.

She merged Comet Films with Newgrange Pictures in late 2006 and is now working alongside fellow producer Jackie Larkin. Newgrange Pictures was one of 10 Irish production companies to receive MPD (company slate) funding from the Irish Film Board in Dec. 2006

She co-produced the German-Austrian film KILL DADDY, GOODNIGHT, which had its world premier at the Berlin Film Festival. Lesley also executive produced the 2 part TV drama "Whistleblower" (with Saffron Pictures) for RTE 1, which won the best drama award in 2009.

Most recently she produced the feature film HAPPY EVER AFTERS, starring Golden Globe winner Sally Hawkins and Tom Riley. It was released theatrically by Disney in Ireland, Verve in the UK, Haut et Court in France, Lucky Red in Italy and Senator in Germany. It is being sold by Films Distribution.

She is graduate of EAVE 1998 and the Media Business School 2002 and sits on the board of the Irish Film Board and Pan Pan Theatre Company.


Antoine O'Flatharta was born in Leitir Meallain in 1953 and raised in Connemara. He has lived and worked in Britain and America and has been based in Dublin for the past 16 years. He has written for the stage and television in Irish and English and his works have been produced by many theatre companies, including the Abbey Theatre, Druid Theatre Company, the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh, the Cleveland Playhouse and the Ensemble Studio theatre in New York. Stage plays include Gaeilgeoiri, Imeachtai na Saoirse, Blood Guilty, An Solas Dearg, Grace in America and Silverlands.

His television and radio drama has been broadcast by the RTE and the BBC. He devised the TG4 series "Ros na Run" which he created originally as a pilot for RTE in 1992. He was series advisor and wrote the opening episode of the RTE family drama series "On Home Ground." He wrote the script for a short animated film entitled AN BONNAN BUI based on the sean-nos song of the same name which won the audience award at the Galway Film Fleadh in 1997. Last year Antoine's TV Drama "An Crisis" won numerous awards and has been re-commissioned for a second series by TG4.

His plays have been published by Clo-Iar Chonnachta and New Island Books. A children's book, The Prairie Train, was published in America by Random House and won the Western Writer of America Storyteller Award in the year 2000.

THADDEUS O'SULLIVAN (Director/Producer)

Thaddeus O'Sullivan was born in Dublin but moved to London after finishing school where he received his early film training at the Ealing School of Art and the Royal College of Art. As with some of his Irish contemporaries, his earlier films were influenced by avant-garde theories and experimental film-making. In the late 1970s he made two influential experimental films about the life of the Irish immigrant in London: the short film A PINT OF PLAIN and the feature-length ON A PAVING STONE MOUNTED. Using a combination of documentary footage and fictional recreation, both films explore the place of the exile in culture - never really belonging in the adopted country and yet drifting further from the home left behind. These films encapsulate O'Sullivan's own position as a film-maker caught between the two cultures of Britain and Ireland, and his best work has explored personal identities caught in complex cultural interplay.

During the 1980s, O'Sullivan developed into a highly-regarded lighting cameraman, working on important Irish independent films, including COMERFORD'S TRAVELLER (1981), BLACK'S PIGS (1984), and MURPHY'S ANNE DEVLIN (1984), for which he provided the atmospheric and highly effective long takes and tableau shots that characterize the film. His international breakthrough came as cinematographer on Andrew Grieve's ON THE BLACK HILL (1987), which was critically acclaimed for its beautiful and evocative landscapes.

He continued to direct his own films during this period - a documentary on the painter Jack B Yeats in 1981 and a critically-acclaimed short fiction film, THE WOMAN WHO MARRIED CLARK GABLE, which received a BAFTA nomination and presaged his move into more conventional narrative cinema. His first fiction feature as director was DECEMBER BRIDE (Ireland, 1990), an adaptation of Sam Hanna Bell's Northern Irish novel about a scandalous menage-a-trois set in a rural Presbyterian community in Ulster. It was an important film in the development of contemporary Irish cinema, notable for its exploration of an aspect of Irish rural life far removed from the romantic whimsy of Hollywood and shown in the Director's Fortnight in Cannes to great acclaim.

O'Sullivan subsequently tackled contemporary urban Ireland in two contrasting films. He became the first director to explore Loyalist paramilitaries in Northern Ireland in his stylish but somber political thriller NOTHING PERSONAL (UK / Ireland, 1995) for which Ian Hart won Best Actor at the Venice Film Festival. He revisited the Dublin gangster world of John Boorman's The General (Ireland / UK, 1998) in his own more light-hearted version of the Michael Cahill story, ORDINARY DECENT CRIMINAL starring Kevin Spacey and Colin Farrell (Ireland/Germany/US/UK, 2000). He then went on to direct THE HEART OF ME (UK/France, 2002) a costume film set in the 1930s about an upper-middle-class English love triangle (based on Rosamund Lehmann's novel The Echoing Grove and starring Helena Bonham Carter and Paul Bettany).

Thaddeus most recently directed the critically acclaimed INTO THE STORM for HBO on the life of Winston Churchill winning Emmys for music and for Irish actor Brendan Gleeson.