Dan Ireland Sees Traces of His Own Past in “Passionada”
by Wendy Mitchell
For Dan Ireland, his third film “Passionada” (opening Friday from Samuel Goldwyn/Fireworks) wasn’t exactly autobiographical — it’s about a community of Portuguese-Americans in New Bedford, Mass. But he found he had more in common with these characters than he first thought.
When reading producer David Bakalar’s story (with a script by Jim and Stephen Jermanok) about a young widow who’s romantic life has stalled, Ireland thought of his own past. “In a very strange way, I thought of my mother,” says Ireland, who co-founded the Seattle International Film Festival and worked in production and acquisitions before making his directorial debut with “The Whole Wide World” in 1996. “My mother was a very, very, very beautiful woman at the point in her life when my father deserted her with four children, and everyone kept asking, ‘Why aren’t you going out? Why aren’t you moving on? And she couldn’t.”
In the film, widow Celia (Sofia Milos) does move on when she meets a mysterious stranger (Jason Isaacs) who comes to town to talk to his shady business associates (Teresa Russell and Seymour Cassel). Celia is helped along by her daughter Vicky (Emmy Rossum) and her mother-in-law (Lupe Ontiveros).
Ireland tells indieWIRE that he was also drawn to this story by the unique world in which it is set — in New Bedford, a Portuguese-flavored New England enclave where the world of fado music rules. “I was completely blown away by the world of fado,” the director says. “And I went to New Bedford and I realized that this was a character in the film. I couldn’t believe this place was in America.”
Ireland will really be leaving America for his next projects. He’s currently at the casting stage on “The Beauty of Jane,” a romance set in 1912 England; and he’s also polishing the screenplay for “Fine Lines,” which he describes as a “Hitchcockian thriller set in England.”