Parker to film 'Angela's Ashes'

 

The English film director Alan Parker is to bring the award-winning Frank McCourt book, Angela's Ashes, to the screen. It will be the director's second film of Irish working-class life following his successful 1991 film of Roddy Doyle's The Commitments, in which he cast Irish non-professional actors in many of the key roles.

"We are still in negotiation regarding Angela's Ashes, but we're almost there," Mr Parker told The Irish Times last night. "I am very keen to make it into a film. I've always loved the book. It's a very beautiful story. And I'm looking forward to any excuse to getting back to working in Ireland."

The film will be produced by the major Hollywood studio, Paramount Pictures, as a co-production with PolyGram Filmed Entertainment, where Mr Parker's production company, Dirty Hands, is based. The screenplay for the film is by Frank McCourt himself and Laura Jones, the screenwriter who adapted the recent films of Henry James's The Portrait of a Lady and Peter Carey's Oscar and Lucinda.

McCourt's autobiographical book, which won him the Pulitzer Prize, has been at or near the top of the American hardback bestsellers chart for the past 78 weeks. Mr Parker said last night that he hoped to shoot the film in Ireland "probably in late summer or early autumn" of this year.

While the story is set in Limerick, no decision has been made as to which Irish locations will be used. Nor has Mr Parker made any casting decisions. "It's a kid's story, so the casting will be difficult," he said. "The main boy will be played by three different boys at different ages in the character's life. I haven't really thought yet about who will play the mother and father."

He anticipates the film will be a "medium-budget" production, but could not elaborate on the budget at this early stage. His other films as a director include Bugsy Malone, Midnight Express, Fame, Birdy and most recently, Evita. He is the present chairman of the British Film Institute.