Making its world premiere at the Toronto Intl. Film Festival, “Wildfire,” which is the big-screen debut of writer/director Cathy Brady and was co-financed by the BFI, Screen Ireland, Northern Ireland Screen, Film4, Great Point Media and the Wellcome Trust, tells a poignant and emotionally affecting small-town story of sisters who are facing some serious life obstacles, and because Brady’s uncompromising narrative, which is laced with secrets and twists, and never backs down from a challenge. Co-star Nika McGuigan passed away from cancer while the film was in the editing process, further cementing the project as a labor of love for all involved. Brady spoke with Variety about the film’s creation, what she hopes people will pull from it, and what she has coming up in the future.
How did this project get started?
This is a very personal and political film, and it very much deals with the baggage of the troubles, and the everlasting effects of everything that’s occurred in Northern Ireland. And because I wanted the story to be set in the Borderlands of Northern Ireland, I wanted the film to be reflective of that area and environment. So it all came down to doing the proper research, and the appropriate scene and script building with my two actresses, and while I do have writing credit, it was most definitely a very collaborative process, in terms of how we found the characters, and allowed the story to build and progress.
Nora-Jane Noone and Nika McGuigan had to create a strong emotional relationship in order for the film to be effective. How was this accomplished?
I had my cast before the idea was fully fleshed out, and I’d worked with both of them separately. The first time we got together it was true creative fireworks, and I knew that they’d be able to create that chemistry that was necessary to make us really care about these women. It really helps when you have two fearless actresses, and they both really had the desire to go deep.
What’s the biggest thing you want audiences to take away from “Wildfire”?
At the heart of this film, it’s about an intense bond between two sisters, who will almost go to the end of the world for each other, and it’s that closeness that’s the most universal thing about “Wildfire,” and I think that’s the heart of this film. What will you do for love?
What do you have coming up in the future?
I’m again going to work with Tempesta Films’ Carlo Cresto-Dina and Cowboy Films’ Charles Steel, who produced “Wildfire,” and this next one is going to be very different. It’s an ecological thriller set in the depths of the Amazon jungle, which is going to tell a very powerful story centering on the dark underbelly and illegal activity of volunteerism. It’s another project that I’m building from the ground-up, and it’s in the early planning stages, and I’ll go and write that very soon.