Raindance Film Festival 2021
Shorts Programme: Maverick Senses

Shaun Dunne
& Zoe Ní Riordáin
You Said (Dúirt Tú)

International Premiere
October 28

raindance.org

Dúirt Tú (You Said) is the story of a break-up and a breakdown in communication. Two former partners are divided by distance. One wishes to reconnect, the other refuses. Structured in the style of a fever dream, this Irish language film explores reconciliation and coercion, love and control.

 

Hey Zoe & Shaun, it's great to talk with you, how have you been keeping during these strange times?  

Zoe: Great, thanks. Can't wait to get on a plane and get to London for the first time in 3 years! 

Shaun: Very well thank you! Luckily things have stayed busy enough, we're just coming out of a festival period in Dublin so it's been great to be across online screenings and some in-person events again recently. 

 

Has this time offered you the chance to find some new inspiration or opportunities?

Zoe: The shutdown of theatre and live events has given me the chance to work in film for the first time. Having limitations on space and form has pushed us as a group to create the energy of liveness in a new way. I consider myself very lucky to have been able to continue to make work under difficult circumstances. 

 

Shaun: I think it gave me a lot of opportunity to take a stock and a little breather too which was needed. But Dúirt Tú was an offer that came straight from this time thanks to Zoe and I bought being resident artists at Project Arts Centre in Dublin. This film was born directly out of the time we were in
 

Congratulations on having your International Premiere of Dúirt Tú at Raindance 2021, what does it mean to you to be at the festival? 

Zoe: Maud and I (co-directors of One Two One Two) are so humbled to have our debut film at Raindance. We see this festival as the home of independent film in the UK and beyond, so we are thrilled to be amongst such incredible art. And it's the first time we will see Duirt Tu in a real-life cinema with an audience!

 

Shaun: It's a real honour. We've both lived in London before so it's great to come back and present work here. Raindance is such a big and exciting festival, I love the programme so I'm so glad we get to be amongst it.

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Can you tell me a little bit about Dúirt Tú, what inspired your screenplay?

Zoe: Shaun and I talked about making a short film based on a couple who have separated and what energy the distance can create in both people. We wanted to include the atmosphere in the streets of Dublin and capture it during the strangeness of the pandemic. I was inspired by my experience of the pandemic, and the music of Lou Reed.  

 

Shaun: We'd been talking a lot about power and control in relationships and how that dynamic can often go very wrong - particularly in a breakup. The moments coming out of the first lockdown definitely inspired our representation of that mental space. The city felt very sharp and jagged so we took from that. We knew we wanted the film to move really fast, so the text needed to stay light and rely on the visual style more than the verbal offer

How important is the collaborative nature of co-directing a short film like Dúirt Tú?

 

Zoe: Our collaboration flowed from the first chat about the idea to the end of the process. We are both theatre makers who work in a very intertwined way across a lot of disciplines, so it felt natural to make Duirt Tu in this way. Co-directing the film meant we were always challenging each other's ideas to reach a new one, we were able to divide the work and focus on photography and music/movement with full trust, and it meant we share the joy that comes from watching what we both made have an audience. 

 

Shaun: It's very important always but in this case we were moving very fast on the actual filming days - so our development process and the fact that we had done some work with each other before helped us motor on.


Where did your passion for filmmaking come from?

Zoe: My mam used to watch a lot of foreign language films with us. I remember them feeling very exotic and I was probably taken in by a feeling of being transported to a different place. I've always wanted to direct a film, just to see if I can recreate that feeling. 

 

Shaun: Growing up, I loved cinema obviously but I was also massive into documentary and music videos. I love story and character but I think my work is somewhat a blurring of both those mediums too.

"Most of the advice I have is just mistakes I've made and hoping other people can learn from them."

In 2020 Dúirt Tú premiered at Cork International Film Festival and you were awarded Best Directors, what has it meant for you to get this type of recognition for your work?

Zoe: I felt very proud of the creative team when the award came through. We worked really hard at a difficult time and I think it's important to celebrate these moments when they come. It injects an element of fun into the proceedings!

 

Shaun: It feels great to have the work recognized- especially at such a strong festival where the panel and other people presenting work was truly so strong. It's encouraging towards the next piece. Awards and inclusion in festivals can sometimes help you feel like the work is landing and that can help you continue on and experiment more.

 

Do you have any advice or tips you would offer fellow directors?

Zoe: Watch, listen, learn-it's what I'm trying to do anyway. Most of the advice I have is just mistakes I've made and hoping other people can learn from them. 

 

Shaun: Stay flexible. I think that's a good lesson from the past 18 months anyway but I reckon it's one we should hold close. Things should change and shift across the shoot, try let the film surprise you.
 

And finally, what do you hope people will take away Dúirt Tú? 
 

Zoe: It would be really gratifying if people went away reflecting on the importance of listening. And what a talented cast and cinematographer we have! 

 

Shaun: It's an experimental piece, although for us it can also feel very straightforward at the same time- because we know where all the choices are coming from... But  I hope people will let themselves sit with the journey our characters go through, give themselves the space to interpret and decipher. What they take away is up to them.

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