News from Cannes that Neil Jordan will film his adaptationof Pat McCabe's Breakfast On Plutolater this year may mark the resurgence of the literary adaptation in Irishfilm production. Jordan's earlier adaptation of McCabe's The Butcher Boy is often cited, in Ireland at least, as the bestIrish film of all time and expectations are understandably high for Breakfast On Pluto.

Jordan has also optioned Hugo Hamilton's autobiographical The Speckled People, a book whichrecalls Hamilton's childhood in an Irish and German-speaking household, an oddcross-cultural island out of sync with the uniformly English-speaking suburbsof 1960s Dublin.

The other Irish novel to be adapted for film this year isMaeve Binchy's Tara Road which NoelPearson's Ferndale Films is setting up as a Euros 10m European co-production tobe directed by Gillies McKinnon, probably in late Summer or early Autumn.Adapted by Cynthia Cidre and Shane Connaughton, Tara Road is currently casting and Pearson will be hoping toreplicate the performance of Pat O'Connor's adaptation of Binchy's Circle Of Friends, a film which afterten years remains one of the highest earning Irish films of recent times.

Pearson himself had earlier successes with adaptations ofexisting Irish literary properties My LeftFoot and Dancing At Lughnasa, andhis current slate includes My Boy,Philomena Lynott's memoir of her songwriter son Phil Lynott who fronted ThinLizzy, Ireland's first internationally successful rock band.

A number of other books by Irish writers have been optionedas film projects in recent times. Notably James Stephens's The Crock Of Gold, Joe O'Connor's Star Of The Sea, Peter Cunningham's The Taoiseach, Mary Kenny's biography of Lord Haw Haw, Germany Calling, and Aislinn Hunter'sCanadian-Irish story Stay. They jointhe growing ranks of Irish writers whose work is increasingly seen as fertileterritory for big screen adaptation. Neil Jordan has said of his own recentnovel, Shade, that he's notinterested in making it into a film himself, but that anyone else is welcome tohave a go.

The caveat for writers and producers is that someproperties, such as Flann O'Brien's TheThird Policeman, have been under option for years but still manage to eludetheir producers' ambitions after umpteen drafts. In fact a Flann O'Brien shortstory, currently being adapted by Johnny Ferguson for Jim Sheridan at HellsKitchen is likely to be the first English language adaptation of O'Brien's workto reach the cinema.

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