London-based Mister Smith announced international sales rights on Directors’ Fortnight title “Mean Dreams.” Now word in the run-up to Cannes is that David Garrett’s four-year-old sales-financing company will be unveiling at least one more new title to Cannes, though it isn’t on its website and no trace of the title can be found on the Google: “The Devil’s Doorway.”
The film is described as a compilation of found footage attributed to two Irish priests who were sent by the Vatican to investigate a reported miracle of a weeping statue in a Magdalene laundry.
Opened from the eighteenth century onwards around the world – and portrayed memorably by actor-director Peter Mullen in “The Magdalene Sisters,” a 2002 Venice Golden Lion winner – the Magdalene Asylums were homes run by religious institutions for “fallen” women: Prostitutes, unwed mothers or women suspected of sexual promiscuity.
The footage of “The Devil’s Doorway” includes a recording of a 16-year-old girl exhibiting signs of what in films terms could be demonic possession.
One mystery about “The Devil’s Doorway” is what happened to the priests who, in classic “The Blair Witch Project” style, are never heard of again.
Another is who really shot the footage and made the compilation. That may be revealed at Cannes where Mister Smith will apparently stage a screening of the footage.
Peter Mullan’s “The Magdalene Sisters” was based on historical fact.
The historical context for “The Devil’s Doorway” reads, tragically, like a horror film. A mass grave was found in 1993 on the grounds of a former convent in Dublin, which moved the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child to request a government enquiry. Another mass grave, of children’s bodies, was discovered in the grounds of a convent run by the Bon Secours order of nuns in Tuam, Co. Galway in 2014.
“There’s no point investigating just what happened in Tuam and then next year finding out more. We have to look at the whole culture of mother baby homes; they’re talking about medical experiments there,” Dr. Diarmuid Martin, the Archbishop of Dublin, is quoted by The Telegraph as telling Irish state radio. The grave is now the subject of a judicial enquiry.