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Category: Edition 2020

In the deepest countryside of Ireland, the former boxer Arm has become the most feared defender of the Devers, a family of drug dealers, while at the same time striving to be a good father for Jack, his autistic son of only five years. Divided between his two different families, Arm finds himself faced with a difficult decision when asked to kill for the first time. His attempt to do the right thing will endanger all around him.

Category Official Competition
Section Generator +18
Tipology Feature Film
Duration 101'
Production Year 2019
Nationality Ireland, United Kingdom
Directed by Nick Rowland
Screenplay Joe Murtagh
Based on the short story by Colin Barrett
Director of photography Piers McGrail
Editor Nicolas Chaudeurge, Matthew Tabern
Production Design Marcel Bonewald, Isabelle C. Schnabel
Costume Design Damien Creagh
Sound Matis Rei
Music Blanck Mass
Main cast Cosmo Jarvis
Barry Keoghan
Niamh Algar
Ned Dennehy
David Wilmot
Produced by Daniel Emmerson

regista Nick RowlandNICK ROWLAND
After leaving behind a motorsport career in rallying, Rowland studied at Arts University Bournemouth, where his graduate film DANCING IN THE ASHES (2012) received a Royal Television Society Award for ‘Best Student Fiction’. He then went on to study directing at the National Film and Television School. His short film work earned him critical acclaim from Sundance Film Festival to BAFTA. His eclectic and engaging array of short films explore varying genres and narratives — from psychological thriller OUT OF SIGHT (2014) to coming-of-age drama SLAP (2014) — the latter earning him a BAFTA nomination in 2015. CALM WITH HORSES is his debut feature film.

Director's statement
"At first glance, CALM WITH HORSES can be seen as a tense crime thriller, which has one foot planted in visceral genre filmmaking. However, the heart of the film is about loyalty, family and fatherhood. It is a film about how bad relationships dictate the life of the abused and sedate their self-awareness through fear and habit. I wanted to explore how a community can misunderstand, or even take advantage of vulnerable people, and show how it's also possible to turn your back on these abuses. I was fascinated by how the characters are chained together by co-dependence and a selfish love. Dympna is best friends with Arm because he uses him for his dirty work. Arm wants Ursula and Jack to stay close because it suits him; not because it is good for his son. Paudi hates that Hector may, one day, fall in love with the widow and run away, leaving him alone. Breaking this cycle is, I guess, in part what the film is about. During the adaptation process and planning of this film, my focus has been on staying true to the elements of the source material that make it so unique and rich, while developing and expanding the story to make it an emotional and cinematic experience for the audience. It has been great to have Colin Barrett’s advice and support throughout the process, and it was a huge honour to be able to play with the world and characters he created. The challenge has been to retain the sense of poetry and sensitivity found in the prose, and translate it into the language of film. The world of CALM WITH HORSES is energetic, eccentric and beautiful as much as it is dark and threatening. It is a place where violence or laughter could erupt at any moment. I loved how the audience are propelled forward by the youthful energy and spirit of the central characters. Above all else, I wanted to take the audience on a deeply emotional journey, as we explore this brutal world through the eyes of our deeply vulnerable protagonist, as he grapples with his conscience and desire to do what is best for his son".


Element Pictures

international distribution
Altitude Film Sales
(United Kingdom)

festival contact
The Festival Agency