AS MODERNISING PEOPLE, we, as a nation, are continually trying to face our past, force through it, and hopefully arrive with a greater understanding of our times gone by.
Ireland has changed so much since the death of Ann Lovett in January 1984 that perhaps our parents and grandparents might not now recognise it. Ann was just a teen when she died alone in the cold in a grotto in Granard, County Longford, alongside her newborn boy who she had given birth to by a statue of the Virgin Mary.
I remember the day Ann Lovett died, but like any other teenager, was more interested in Top of the Pops than The Irish Times. At that age we were younger, more innocent, and less sure about everything.
When you reconnect with these stories later in life, you have the time and maturity to reflect on them through the benefit of hindsight. This moment transpired for me when I came across two excellent newspaper articles about Ann in 2018.
What struck me most was imagining the whole day and wondering what she must have thought and felt at that time. We will never truly know, but as a writer much time is spent in the shoes of others and, in this case, considering the fear and uncertainty of the tragic event – trying to rationalise her thoughts and actions on that consequential day.
Even though she was old enough to have a baby, she was still only 15, a child, but most incomparable to a 15-year-old girl in 2023. It is this alone that drove me to write this script.
Oddly enough, it was the most straightforward script I ever had to write. Perhaps this was because I remembered it so vividly from my youth, or likely, it is such a heartbreaking story that cinema appears to have decided to ignore.
Any film is challenging to fund, but this one was very challenging, and it took four years to get it from script to screen. However, from the script writing stage, we were fortunate enough to get both the immense support of RTÉ and the brilliant German sales agent, Media Luna.
It is a great honour for us, the team behind the feature film Ann, to have the opportunity to screen our film to audiences at the Dublin International Film Festival on Sunday 26 February. In reality, it is so much more, given that it concerns the tragic case of Ann, which has haunted Ireland for nearly forty years.
Often in the film industry, you are presented with a choice: do we give up and move on to the next project, or do we work hard to make it happen? Deep down, I felt it was a story that must be told. I could not sit by and do nothing, so I decided: let’s do it.
Everything is an uphill battle when you make a film for a fraction of what a standard Irish film costs. I always knew we would get the support of the cast and crew because you can rely on them for a film such as this. After all, they realise the importance of bringing it to the big screen.
Of course, we shot during COVID, which again brought a new level of pressure on our budget as we had no access to government support initiated during that time. If nothing else, the real stars in this film are the goodwill we received from the cast, crew, and so many others.
We shot the movie in Boyle, where the locals welcomed us. Some days we locked down the town, but all we were ever given was support. The Roscommon County Council was so good to the production, as were others such as An Garda Síochána.
We shot this film over 12 long days in one of the most beautiful summers in years. We aimed to convey the story in a straightforward, almost narrative documentary style and transport the audience back to a church-domineered Ireland that no longer existed but felt all too familiar.
The film got a fantastic start last November when it was shown at three category A film festivals: Tallinn Black Nights International Film festival, Cairo International Film Festival and the International Film Festival of India, all in the same month.
It baffles me that such a small Irish story could be accessible to many audiences worldwide. It highlights that people are more alike than not and can resonate with the unspoken truth found at her story’s core.
This was the dream start for Ann as it started its festival journey. So many great Irish films are being made right now and being part of the Dublin International Film Festival, we hope this will give Ann Lovett’s story a chance to be part of this new wave of Irish cinema everywhere.
Ann screens at 5.40pm on Sunday, 26 February as part of the Dublin international Film Festival, running from 23 February – 4 March. For more information and tickets visit
. Ann will be released in cinemas on Friday 14 April.