A White Horse – film explores homosexuality as a mental illness in 1970s Ireland
A scared and confused young girl enters a phone booth and rings home. Her parents are waiting for the call, and we soon discover a hidden truth. Shaun O Connor’s award-winning short film, A White Horse, tells the story of Bridget, a scared young girl who has escaped a mental institution. The reason for her incarceration: a romantic relationship with a fellow schoolgirl. Filmed in Ireland’s Cork city and county, the story explores how mental hospitals were once used as catch-alls for people considered ‘troublesome’ or ‘abnormal’, and touches on themes of mental health and homosexuality in the 1970s.
O Connor was inspired to tell the film’s story after discovering that gay conversion therapy was widespread in the British Isles in the 60’s and 70’s, and incredibly, is still legal in the UK and Ireland. He is currently writing his debut feature film and developing A White Horse into a TV series with writer Paul Cahill. He also has a personal interest in mental health issues, having suffered with chronic anxiety in his mid-20s, and later writing a book about his experiences in order to help others recover. Rounding out the creative team are producer Sinéad Barry and screenwriter Paul Cahill, with main actors Cora Fenton (The Young Offenders) and newcomer Amber Deasy.
The film has won numerous awards including Best Irish Short at the Foyle Film Festival, putting it on the longlist for the Oscars 2021. It has also won Best Irish Short at the Kerry Film Festival, Best Overall at the Richard Harris Film Festival, Best Independent Short at the Underground Cinema Film Festival, and Best Production Design at Kinsale Sharks. It has also been selected for numerous other prestigious film festivals including the upcoming St. Louis Film Festival in the US. It is eligible to be considered for an Oscar after winning an Oscar-qualifying Award at Foyle Film Festival.
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Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.