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Cillian Murphy’s ‘Small Things Like These’ Set as Berlinale Opening Night Film

Small Things Like These, featuring Oppenheimer star Cillian Murphy, will open this year’s Berlin International Film Festival.

Murphy plays Bill Furlong, a devoted father and coal merchant living in 1980s Ireland who discovers shocking truths about the infamous Magdalene laundries, the horrific asylums run by the Roman Catholic Church for “fallen women.”

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Tim Mielants directed Small Things Like These from a screenplay by Enda Walsh. Emily Watson, Eileen Walsh and Michelle Fairley co-star. Eileen Walsh also starred in Peter Mullan’s acclaimed 2002 drama The Magdalene Sisters, which focused on the Magdalene asylums.

Small Things Like These is based on the book by award-winning Irish writer Claire Keegan, whose novel Foster was adapted as the Oscar-nominated The Quiet Girl.

Murphy and Alan Moloney produced the film through their Big Things Films company along with Catherine Magee. The film was financed by Artists Equity and Screen Ireland/Fís Éireann and co-produced in Belgium by Wilder Content. Matt Damon and Drew Vinton produced via Artists Equity alongside executive producers Ben Affleck, Kevin Halloran, and Michael Joe. FilmNation Entertainment is handling international sales.

Small Things Like These will open the 74th Berlinale on Feb. 15, screening in competition.

“With Small Things Like These, Tim Mielants tells the story of a man of few words, with wide open eyes, as clear as the skies of Ireland,” says Berlinale’s Artistic Director Carlo Chatrian. “In The Quiet Girl we already had a sense of Claire Keegan’s skill in portraying small, apparently simple characters and making them unforgettable; here her delicate, rich, and yet down-to-earth writing finds a great interpreter in Cillian Murphy. We are confident that this story that allies the kindness to be directed to the more fragile, and the willpower to stand up against injustice, will resonate with everyone. We are looking forward to launching this ‘quiet’ yet quite exceptional film at the start of Zeitgeist Irland 24, a year-long celebration of Irish culture in Germany.”

Small Things Like These reteams Murphy with Mielants, who directed multiple episodes of Peaky Blinders. The Irish star is a frontrunner in this year’s awards season. He has already won best actor at the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards for his portrayal of nuclear scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer and his role in building the atomic bomb in Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer.

The Berlin Film Festival will announce its full competition lineup Monday, Jan. 22. The 74th Berlinale runs Feb. 15-25.

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