Sophie Hyde

Win passes to see Dublin movie Animals

Animals, directed by Australian Sophie Hyde, opens nationally on September 12.

The movie, based on the novel by Emma Jane Unsworth, is shot entirely in Dublin and showcases the Irish capital’s growing reputation as a cool, cosmopolitan city.

“Dublin is a very vibrant city. It's very romantic,” director Hyde said.

“It can be quite raw and rough as well. It has a kind of old world and a new world charm all at the same time, and it would be easy to be distracted there. It's very social. And yet, there's this great love of writers and literature.

“So it was a very perfect city to set our girls' world in because all of those things combine, and there is a history of lauding these great writers and loving the idea of drinking and the party and being in the world in a certain way.”

The film is a fierce and unapologetic celebration of female friendship, an intmate, funny and bittersweet examinaton of the challenges of turning talent into action, and being a modern woman, with faults, longings and competing desires

Alia Shawkat and Holliday Grainger play best friends Tyler and Laura in Animals, directed by Sophie Hyde.

Alia Shawkat and Holliday Grainger play best friends Tyler and Laura in Animals, directed by Sophie Hyde.

Laura (Holliday Grainger) and Tyler (Alia Shawkat) have been flatmates and best friends for 10 years, marauding around the streets of Dublin, rejectng the expectatons that bombard modern women and actng purely on desire.

For Tyler, this is the best version of life, even with the inevitable hangovers, but when Laura's (younger) sister Jean gets pregnant... on purpose... Laura panics.

Should she still be partying into her mid-thiries? And where has her supposed talent as an aspiring writer got her, apart from notebooks full of scribbles?

In an inky-dark bar she meets rising-star pianist Jim, who falls for Laura’s wit and passionate attitude to life, and the two soon become engaged.

Inspired - or maybe intimidated - by teetotaler Jim’s commitment to his work, Laura knuckles down to finish the novel she’s been writng for a decade.

Tyler, however, is convinced that marriage is the wrong thing for Laura and that her literary success depends on a life of excess, adventure and - crucially - variety... startng with the devilishly handsome Marty.

Holliday Grainger, Alia Shawkat and Irish actor Fra Fee in a scene from Animals.

Holliday Grainger, Alia Shawkat and Irish actor Fra Fee in a scene from Animals.

As Laura tries to balance these precarious pieces of her life, she only makes things worse.

Can she really have it all? Or is her life of debauchery with Tyler ruining her attempts to create something meaningful?

As Laura struggles to come to grips with what it is that she really wants, she begins to realise that living a life for herself might mean leaving someone else behind.

Alia Shawkat, who plays Tyler, said she loved shooting in Dublin.

“I love Dublin. I'm so happy that the film ended up here. I think it's a special place. Very special. It feels like a small town that I can't believe I never knew about before. It's like a big city at a small town. And yeah, the Guinness is great, people are nice. It rains a little too much, but makes the sun more worth it.”

We have ten double in-season passes to see Animals, which opens around Australia on September 12. To be in with a chance to win a free double pass, just fill in the entry form below. All entrants will be added to our Irish Echo email newsletter database.

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Irish movie treats at Sydney Film Festival

Holliday Grainger and Alia Shawkat in Animals, which will be screened at the Sydney Film Festival.

Holliday Grainger and Alia Shawkat in Animals, which will be screened at the Sydney Film Festival.

The forthcoming Sydney International Film Festival will feature several movies with an irish connection.

The Nightingale, directed by Jennifer Kent, is an Australian feature which has won praise in Europe.

Set in 1825, Clare, a young Irish convict woman, chases a British officer through the rugged Tasmanian wilderness, bent on revenge for a terrible act of violence he committed against her family. On the way she enlists the services of an Aboriginal tracker named Billy, who is also marked by trauma from his own violence-filled past.

It stars Dubliner Aisling Franciosi in her first lead role and won the Special Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival.

Dubliner Aisling Franciosi in The Nightingale.

Dubliner Aisling Franciosi in The Nightingale.

Animals is another Irish Australian feature set in contemporary Dublin.

Directed by Australian director Sophie Hyde and based on the popular novel by Emma Jane Unsworth, Animals stars Alia Shawkat (Arrested Development, Whip It) and Holliday Grainger (Cinderella, My Cousin Rachel).

Criticizing the minutiae of female friendship, Animals focuses on two untamed, party-crazed roommates living it up in Dublin whose friendship is tested when one of them falls in love.

Papi Chalo, directed by Irish filmmaker John Butler (Handsome Devil), stars Golden Globe winner Matt Bomer (White Collar, Magic Mike) as a gay lonely TV weatherman who strikes up an unusual friendship with a straight middle-aged Latino.

A Dog Called Money is a documentary about Grammy Award nominee musician PJ Harvey.

Irish director Seamus Murphy, whose film A Dog Called Money screens at the Sydney Film Festival.

Irish director Seamus Murphy, whose film A Dog Called Money screens at the Sydney Film Festival.

Directed by Irish filmmaker Seamus Murphy, it is a glimpse into the writing and recording of the 2016 album The Hope Six Demolition Project in a London recording studio.

For details of screenings and venues, visit www.sff.org.au