Greg Shapiro Options Tom Sullivan’s Opus About the Great Famine in Ireland
Writer/Director Tom Sullivan‘s Irish-language version of Arracht has been optioned by producer Greg Shapiro for an English-language remake for future release in the United States.
‘Arracht’ is an Irish-Gaelic word for ‘monster’ in English, and Monster is the perfect title for the English version of Tom Sullivan‘s film which Greg Shapiro wants to bring to the American public.
Monster examines the impact on a village on the west coast of Ireland in 1845 as famine sweeps the nation, pitting a tenant against his landlord, resulting in the tenant’s years of voluntary exile until a young woman rescues him from isolation.
This puts a human face on the sweeping disaster which eventually displaced millions, and explains Shapiro’s excitement in optioning for an equally dramatic English version to American audiences.
There are comparatively few examples of this catastrophic story to be found on celluloid. What is available are mostly documentaries, among them The Hunger, and by all accounts a very respectable narrative feature entitled Black ’47, which concerns itself with events during the nadir of the Great Famine, 1847, when the calamity was at its worst and features fine performances by a well-known cast; it also uses native Irish dialog liberally.
Generally speaking, however, what makes the work of Tom Sullivan–or Tomás Ó Súilleabháin in his native Irish–is his use of Irish Gaelic exclusively in his dialog, as he is a strong proponent of preserving Irish culture, its language in particular. Arracht stars Dónall Ó Héalai and Saise NÍ Chuinn, who had both earned praise for their performances.
As for adapting the American release, it’s fun to speculate if Sullivan comes aboard to translate his original screenplay for the American market, and if the pair will cast any of the Irish performers for the English version or follow in the footsteps of Black ’47 and choose performers more well-known for its release stateside.
It seems that Greg Shapiro would welcome the task of collaborating. He is best known as producer of The Hurt Locker, garnering an Academy Award for producing as well as a BAFTA in the same category, not to mention six more honors, including the one well earned by Kathryn Bigelow, the first woman to win in the Directing category.
The release of the original film Arracht has been delayed by the pandemic but has already evoked a great deal of interest and acclaim, and will be released in Ireland on October 15, 2021. At present, no release date for the United States has been announced by Gravitas Ventures.
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