10th Irish Film Festival, Moscow – meeting Seána Kerslake (‘A Date For Mad Mary’)

March has painted Russian capital city in emerald colors of the Irish Week – a mosaic of events united with Irish spirit and inspired by St.Patrick`s Day. And, as a good old tradition, Moscow hosts the 10th Irish Film Festival seasoned with special screenings and meetings with Irish famous actors and film directors.  For our special review we have chosen A Date For Mad Mary – the film by Darren Thornton, one of the most thrilling motion pictures of the fest with excellent performing of Seana Kerslake in the leading role.

This is a story about a girl who has returned home after six months in prison. Life of her neighborhood changed beyond recall – her best friend Charlene who was her schoolmate and age-long companion for hanging out and shaking foundations of a whistle-stop hometown is about getting married. Other people avoid her since her jail experience has not blessed her with handsome manners. Her mom and granny make no steps to understand her, her father left them ages ago. Even feeling a bit awkward about her, Charlene invites her to be a bridesmaid. Other girls will attend the wedding with their boyfriends, only Mary is single. She takes few attempts to find someone among her friends and even via local dating agency, but fails. Her friends have grown up from hanging out in the street, Mary is the only one who stalled into teenage black&white thinking. She suffers from loneliness, lack of understanding, being mad at the whole world and at herself. The spectre of her emotional palette appears with striking realism.

She meets an another forever-alone – a nice girl named Jess, a stylish photographer and singer. Their friendship moves on to something greater, but it is still more like a provocation and revenge. Mary is like a child, she needs warmth, support and someone who cares. The scene when mom embraces crying Mary makes believe that she truly lacked the feeling of a family, the possibility of unburdening herself, even in tears. She fights her demons that follow her – once she suddenly meets a girl with a scar, it reminds her about what she has done to be imprisoned.   Two girls just stare at each other, with no single word or even sign of anger or hatred. Even nothing has been said, Mary seems to be attacked by her demons: panic, hesitation, fear and conscience. She needs changes in her own life without ruining others` – this conclusion comes to her finally at her ex-best friend`s wedding, which she attends alone but beautiful and too different from her usual look in kicks and oversized hoodie.

In July, 2016 ‘A Date For Mad Mary’ screened at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in Czech Republic, then was assessed beyond praise at the Galway Film Fleadh in Ireland and won ‘best Irish film’ nomination. Within the framework of 10th Irish Film Festival in Moscow the audience was invited to meet Seana Kerslake in Q&A format. The meeting attracted a capacity house – Seana demonstrated the high level of acting skills and the unique stagecraft of psychological transformation and emotional expression. BlogProFilm`s foreign movies observer kot_pofigist relates on the meeting.

The Russian audience was truly surprised by that transformation of womanly charming Seana into rude and mannish Mary who served time in jail. The actress answered with a smile that to some extent it was easy since Mary did not have to care about manners or mind her language. But on the other hand the task was to set herself up for stages, and after the scenes not to take Mary back home.

Seana Kerslake at the Irish Film Fest, Moscow, March 19, 2017

By the way, the shooting was tight, it took six week to complete filming. Seana told that as a prep before shooting she with her colleague Charleigh Bailey who played Mary`s best friend Charlene went clubbing, but while shooting everyone was tired to the world. The movie about how desperate and trouble-making Mary can not find a place in her hometown has ignited some earthling questions. Seana admitted that she experienced a situation of losing friends, and in her view the most destructive thing for friendship is dishonesty.

Seana Kerslake answering questions from the audience, Irish Film Fest, Moscow, March 19, 2017

BlogProFilm has not stayed away from the discussion:

Q: – Hello Seana, I would like to ask maybe a more deep question from BlogProFilm, a Russian independent critics community. For us as the audience the most crucial point, let`s say a crossroad for Mary in her soul searching of life in a whistle-stop – you have been shooting in Drogheda, am I right? – so, the most important moment was meeting a girl with a scar. So which moments seem most significant to you, as a view from behind the scenes?

A: – Yes, we have been shooting in a small town of Drogheda. Well, I think that there are three major moments that turned on Mary`s recognition that things have changed: first, her release from jail. She comes back and realizes that nothing will be the same, and everything is against her. Then, meeting Jess as a blink of hope for understanding, and finally – sure, meeting a girl with a scar which was the reason why Mary got imprisoned. These three things make her scratch her head.

Seana Kerslake at the Irish Film Fest, Moscow, March 19, 2017

Seana herself is from Dublin, a district closer to suburbs. Except Drogheda in county Louth the film was partly shot in Dublin too. Answering one of numerous questions she said that Moscow deeply impressed her with beautiful architecture – that day guests of the fest had a walk around Moscow city center.

The soundtrack in this movie is magnificent like in all Irish films as well. The country breaths with music, so there is no surprise to hear talented and ear candy tracks with essential Irish spirit. After the official Q&A we have discussed the soundtrack with Seana, she told that one of the songs was performed by Tara Lee (played Jess in the film), she is famous all around Ireland as a singer. The author of the track is SJ McArdle, the album is called Year Of The Tiger – thanks, Seana!


Érin Go Bragh!


Mila S. & kot_pofigist


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