“Penance” alternates between Ireland during the 1916 Easter Rising against British rule and the city of Derry/Londonderry in Northern Ireland in the 1960s, during what became grimly known as “the Troubles.” A Catholic priest is forced to confront his past as a firebrand preacher promoting violence against British rule in Ireland when a former protege who fell under his influence reappears 50 years later as a hardened IRA gunman.
Shot in English and Gaelic, the film stars Peter Coonan (“Love/Hate”), Barry Barnes (“71”), and Gerard McSorley (“Omagh”).
“In these times of loudly debating nationalism, borders and Brexit, I hope this film, through the central character’s story, underlines that we are always a few heartbeats away from violence and we can live to regret ill-judged rhetoric,” Collins said.
Collins is acknowledged as Ireland’s leading director of Irish-language content. His Derry-based De Facto Films produced “Penance” alongside Edwina Forkin’s Zanzibar Films. Broadcaster TG4, The Irish Film Board, Northern Ireland Screen, and the Irish Language Broadcast fund all supported the project.
The filmmaker’s 2007 Gaelic-language movie, “Kings,” was Ireland’s first foreign-language entry to the Oscars and garnered a record 14 Irish Film & Television Awards. His miniseries “The Gift” was also selected as the Irish foreign-language Oscar entry, in 2014.
“Indisputably one of the best directors working in Ireland today, Tom’s tremendous capacity for human insight has always been at the heart of his films, engaging audiences in the remarkable personal journeys of vividly realized characters,” said Starline co-founder Carey Fitzgerald, who worked with Collins on “Kings.”
She added: “’Penance’ more than demonstrates these unique gifts and we’re thrilled to be bringing it to a worldwide audience.”