Oscars: Ireland Selects ‘Viva’ for Foreign-Language Category

Viva Still - H 2015
Courtesy of Treasure Entertainment

Paddy Breathnach's Cuba-set drama was a crowd-pleaser in Telluride and had Benicio Del Toro on board as exec producer.

The Irish Film and Television Academy has submitted the coming-of-age drama Viva as Ireland’s entry into the race for next year’s foreign-language Oscar.

Directed by Paddy Breathnach and written by Mark O’Halloran, the film tells the story of Jesus, an 18-year-old Cuban working in a drag bar in Havana whose life is shaken by the return of his long-lost father, a renowned former boxer who served 15 years in prison for murder. A crowd-pleaser at its world premiere in Telluride, the film was described by The Hollywood Reporter as having a "bittersweet conclusion" that "packs an emotional wallop."

Shot in Havana and Ireland with postproduction at Dublin's Windmill Lane, Viva was produced by Rebecca O’Flanagan and Rob Walpole of Treasure Films, Cathleen Dore and Nelson Navarro Navarro of Island Films. Oscar-winner Benicio Del Toro served as exec producer.

The project was also supported by the Irish Film Board, Windmill Lane Pictures, RTE and Treasure Entertainment.

“The Irish Academy is delighted that this wonderful film from Paddy Breathnach and Mark O’Halloran will represent Ireland for consideration in the Oscar Foreign-Language category — as it reflects the diverse creativity and vision of this Irish team in bringing such a tender Cuban story to the screen that is both intriguing and visually captivating,” said IFTA CEO Aine Moriarty.

Last year's nomination from Ireland was Tommy Collins' thriller The Gift.