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“The Other Side of Sleep” and “This Must Be the Place,” the two films representing Ireland in Cannes, highlight the role of European co-production in broadening the creative and financial horizons of Irish cinema.

“The Other Side of Sleep,” Rebecca Daly’s debut feature about a woman afflicted with sleep-walking who gets caught up in a murder investigation, was co-produced by Ireland’s Fastnet Films with Dutch outfit Rinkel and Hungary’s KMH. Fastnet previously acted as minority partner on projects by both partners, so this was the chance for them to return the favor.

“We could have made it just within Ireland,” says producer Morgan Bushe, “but it would have been a three- or four-week shoot, six days a week. Everyone would (have been) burnt out and tired. Especially with first-time directors, they need support and the time that a larger budget can give you. We had €1.4 million ($2 million) instead of under €1 million ($1.5 million). That’s why co-production is invaluable to making good cinema.”

According to Daly, the benefit of having Dutch and Hungarian crew members and co-producers was more than financial. “It was interesting to get their cultural insight into this story, which is very Irish,” she says. “They didn’t make it less Irish, but it made me look at the story through their eyes. It always helps to be aware of your audience, at home and internationally.”

In Paolo Sorrentino’s “This Must Be the Place,” the retired rock star played by Sean Penn was originally supposed to live in London. But the Italian producers couldn’t raise any interest among British financiers, so toppers at the Eurimages co-production fund suggested a switch to Ireland.

The Irish Film Board was happy to oblige with funding to attract a prestigious European filmmaker and a major American star to Dublin. Element Films came aboard as co-producer to channel the Section 481 rebate.

Sorrentino was so taken with the pool of Irish actors that he even cast one, Kerry Condon, as an American in the U.S. section of the movie.

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