Two kids living on the outskirts of Dublin run away from home and spend a night of magic and terror in the city at Christmas.
"On the fringes of Dublin two kids, Kylie and Dylan, live in a suburban housing estate devoid of life, colour and the prospect of escape. Kylie lives with five other siblings and her overworked mother. Next door, Dylan lives in the shadow of an alcoholic father and the memory of an elder brother who ran away from home two years earlier.
After a violent altercation with his father, Dylan runs away from home and Kylie decides to run away with him. Together they make their way to the magical night time lights of inner city Dublin, to search for Dylan's brother, and in the hope of finding, through him, the possibility of a new life.
Lance Daly's vision of Dublin, as seen through the innocent eyes of our protagonists, is a kaleidoscope of magic, wonder and mystery. But as the night wears on, and Dublin takes on a darker character, the two kids have to rely on the kindness of strangers, the advice of Bob Dylan and their trust in each other to survive the night."
Shot on location around Dublin City, with some scenes shot for Dublin in Goteberg, Sweden, Kisses is the third feature film from Lance Daly.
Director Lance Daly Lance Daly has been hailed as an innovative and imaginative auteur filmmaker since his beautifully envisioned no-budget debut feature Last Days in Dublin was filmed on the streets of the capital in 1999.
Work previous to that film was in theatre, music video, documentary and editing but Lance has since focussed entirely on writing and directing feature films. He shot a critically acclaimed second feature, The Halo Effect, as part of the Irish Film Board's low-budget initiative in 2003.
Writer & Director Lance Daly
Lance Daly was born and educated in Dublin and spent time as an actor, a musician, a photographer and editor before taking the leap into making films, something he had aspired to since childhood. Lance wrote and directed his first feature film, Last Days in Dublin, in 1999 with a shoestring budget on the streets of Dublin, with additional scenes filmed in Paris, New York and Cairo. The film starred Grattan Smith and Wuzza Conlon with appearances by John Kavanagh, Laurence Kinlan and Senator David Norris. It was enthusiastically received, described as "Fellini on a dollar a day", when it went on a limited but successful theatrical release in Ireland in 2002.
Following the release of Last Days in Dublin, Lance immediately shot his second film, The Halo Effect, in the winter of 2002. This film, shot on 35mm, starred Stephen Rea, Grattan Smith, Kerry Condon, Simon Delaney, John Kavanagh, Laurence Kinlan and Ger McSorley, amongst many other celebrated Irish actors. The Halo Effect was selected for the closing gala of the Dublin International Film Festival in 2004 and was released theatrically by Buena Vista International in Ireland in November of that year. It was nominated for five Irish Film and Television Academy awards, including Best Script.
Lance then spent some time raising money for his bigger budget Irish race car drama, Suckin' Diesel.
After a number of fruitless attempts to get that picture over the line, Lance went back to the lower budget template he understood well to make Kisses. The lead actors were found through auditions of thousands of young hopefuls in the winter of 2006, and the film was shot in sections from December 2006 through to July 2007. Post production took a long time as a huge amount of material had been shot and the film was finally finished in the late spring of 2008.
Lance is currently developing a new script to film in spring 2009. It is based on a true story, the nature of which is a closely guarded secret!
Director Lance Daly talks about making Kisses
At what stage do bad influences become bad habits? Dylan and Kylie's escape is a desperate attempt to tear themselves away from an inevitable fate fast approaching; a descent into the same world in which their families are trapped.
Reasons for making Kisses
"I was thinking about kids growing up in tough environments and wondering at what point does a child no longer have a chance to make something of their potential, at what point do they become an inevitable product of their environment? I wanted to tell a story about two kids on the cusp of that point, and how that potential might become a little voice in their heads that would urge them to escape, before that light goes out."
Dylan & Kylie
"Without role models, they have few truths to rely upon; that warmth is a sign of weakness, that adults make things up to control them, that somewhere out there there's someone who might care more about them. Their profound need for change is eventually satisfied by the only realistically attainable improvement in their lives - their discovery of each other. It is a less radical reinvention than they may have hoped for, but real, and perhaps just enough."
Every city has is own character and charm and Lance has used this backdrop of Dublin city for both his previous films. His unique representations of the city have been compared to the distinctive visions of Woody Allen in his portrayal New York and Fellini in his unmistakable use of Rome as a backdrop for his films.
Casting Kylie Kelly O Neill
As they were coming to the final stages of casting, during which the filmmakers visited scores of schools and saw over a thousand children, they set up a test to find their Kylie - they placed an uncomfortable wooden chair in the middle of the room with a padded leather one set over by the wall. All of the kids who came in to read for the part sat where they were told, in the uncomfortable chair, except for Kelly, who almost immediately crossed the room to the better chair and dragged it into place. This act of independence immediately endeared the budding actress to the filmmakers.
Casting Dylan Shane Curry
Casting director Nick McGinley saw over a thousand children, choosing the most independent, headstrong characters with the strongest personalities. In the process of casting Kylie, Kelly O'Neill emerged as a front runner, but the filmmakers were worried that the prospective young Dylans were being outshadowed by her larger than life presence. She instructed her potential co-stars to make her tea and bring her biscuits during auditions - instructions which most followed without question. The only candidate who seemed immune to Kelly steamrolling them with the sheer force of her personality was Shane Curry, who without a second's thought told her to get lost and make her own tea.
Producer Macdara Kelleher talks about producing Kisses
From the beginning we set out to make a local film that both the international film community and audiences would get excited about; a film that might allow Lance to be recognized as an emerging world class director, capable of creating great films in the same way as the previous generation of filmmakers like Jim Sheridan and Neil Jordan have done. Of course there is often a gulf between aspiration and realization. But in the end the film has proved to be even more successful than we had anticipated.
We approached Simon Perry at the IFB (Bord Scanan na hEireann/ The Irish Film Board) as the key financier. He came on board straight away, believing in Lance as a truly talented filmmaker. Their support throughout the process has been invaluable.
Fintan Maguire, Commissioning Editor, at TV3, also responded very positively and agreed to back the film. That enabled us to then apply for BCI (Broadcasting Commission of Ireland) funding, who were equally supportive, realising the importance of a film like Kisses.
The last piece of the finance came together through Tomas Eskilsson at Film I Vast, a Swedish Production fund and Zentropa, the production company of Lars Von Trier. Again they recognised the quality in the script and in Lance's work.
From a production point of view there were four key moments in the life of the film that contributed significantly to its success.
The casting. Making the decision to cast two young inner city kids with no acting experience can be a very daunting prospect. But as Shane and Kelly proved with their remarkable performances, the gamble certainly paid off.
The Music. Lance had written a number of Bob Dylan songs into the script to be performed by various characters in the film and also needed two original Dylan tracks plus there are numerous references to Dylan throughout. We sent the script to Dylan's manager, Jeff Rosen and then a rough cut of the film (with Dylan songs already included). Jeff really liked the film, approved all the Dylan references and we came to an agreement on the music rights. Ultimately the film celebrates Bob Dylan - the spirit and freedom of his music and they recognized that.
The festival success began with the award for Best Irish Feature at the Galway Film Festival in the same week that Kisses was invited to Toronto. This created a flurry of interest from international sales companies and distributors. The film was then selected for other A-List festivals Locarno, Telluride and London, where it received great reviews and a overwhelming audience response, including a standing ovation in the three-thousand seat auditorium in Locarno. This was really the beginning of the international acclaim.
Focus Features International. We had huge interest from several international companies wanting the film. When we screened the film for Focus, they fell in love with it and immediately made an offer. As one of the most successful and respected film companies in the world, we knew they were the right home for the film.
Producer Macdara Kelleher
Dublin-born producer Macdara Kelleher received a BA in English Literature and Classical Studies from University College Dublin in 1998 and, a year later, graduated with an MA in Film from the Dublin Institute of Technology.
In 2003, he was appointed Managing Director of Fastnet Films. Macdara has produced six feature films, several documentaries, series and short films. In 2004, he produced The Halo Effect, starring Stephen Rea, which was premiered as the closing gala at the Dublin Film Festival. The film was distributed by Buena Vista International and sold throughout the world.
Macdara produced the first Irish-Kosovar co-production, Brendan Grant's Tonight is Cancelled and the first Irish-Hungarian co-production The Investigator which won five awards at the Hungarian Film Week 2008.
In 2008 Macdara was selected as the Irish representative for the prestigious Producers On The Move at the Cannes Film Festival.
His most recent film, Lance Daly's Kisses, a co-production with Lars Von Triers' Zentropa, won best Irish film at the Galway Film Festival 2008. It followed this success with selection at the Toronto, Locarno, Telluride, London and AFI Film Festivals. The film is being sold by Focus Features International.
Macdara is a member of the ACE European Producers Network and Screen Producers Ireland.
THE ART OF WORLD CINEMA