Films include 'Swim,' 'Vegas'

VENICE — Irish shingle Parallel Pictures is bringing together the cream of Irish film talent for a brace of projects.

First up is an adaptation of Irish author Flann O’Brien’s seminal metaphysical novel “At Swim-Two-Birds.” Irish thesp Brendan Gleeson will make his directorial debut with the pic, a coming-of-age tale about a 19-year-old student who sees the fictional characters in the play he’s writing intertwining with the people in his life. Colin Farrell, Cillian Murphy and Gabriel Byrne have all boarded the $11 million project. Gleeson adapted the book for the screen and will also co-star.

Parallel topper Alan Moloney is also producing “The Virgin of Las Vegas” with U2 frontman Bono. Liam Neeson is attached to star in the $14 million project, which affectionately recalls the Irish pop culture phenomenon of show bands. Show bands, which became popular across Ireland before the onslaught of TV, used to play cover songs in the early days of rock ‘n’ roll and amassed large followings across the country. Neeson will play an aging show band singer, prone to drink and living in Vegas, who finds his life turned on its head following the arrival of a mysterious stranger. Barry Devlin is penning the script.

This year, Parallel Pictures produced a pair of pics world preeming in Toronto: “Triage,” a dark drama directed by Danis Tanovic and starring Farrell, and “Perrier’s Bounty,” directed by Ian Fitzgibbon and starring Murphy. U.K.-based Hanway Films is handling international sales on both projects.

The healthy state of Parallel’s current slate also belies the uncertainty over the future of the Irish Film Board, which may be shut down if a proposal published this summer in a government-commissioned report is adopted. As things stand, producers filming in Ireland can expect to receive up to 40% of their production budget offset by the Irish Film Board and the Section 481 tax incentive.

“I would be amazed if they actually shut it down,” said Moloney. “The film board, and film industry in general, contributes so much to Ireland’s economy. It more than makes its money back when you consider the bigger picture.”

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