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'The Cathedral' reimagines sinister 14th century Irish tale into modern horror-thriller | Q&A


The Cathedral

Directed by Turlough Ó Cinnéide


A priest, haunted by his past, has his daily life disrupted by an ancient spirit of the damned who seeks to steal his soul.


Q&A with Turlough Ó Cinnéide

Turlough Ó Cinnéide, Writer and Director of The Cathedral
Turlough Ó Cinnéide, Writer and Director of The Cathedral

Q1: Tell us a little about The Cathedral, Winner of Best Short Film (11-30 minutes) in the festival.

"The Cathedral" is the story of a priest, Fr. Noel, played by Nigel Mercier, who encounters an ancient and evil presence that manifests itself in the image of a possessed monk. Fr. Noel, experiencing incredible loneliness on the anniversary of the tragic accident that claimed the lives of his young family before he entered the priesthood, is faced with this spirit of the damned who, taking advantage of his weakened emotional state, has come to steal his soul.

Q2: Where did the idea for this film come from?

Long ago, in 14th century Ireland, there was a monk who fell into temptation and freely relinquished his soul to Beelzebub, the Devil. Bound to the small church in the West of Ireland where he once worshipped, he was forced by his new master to reappear there every 100 years to steal a soul, until a local priest banished him in the year of 1864. It is said that, before he was exorcised, a single tear fell from the demon, leaving a mark on the church floor which can still been seen to this day. “The Cathedral”, is based loosely on this tale.

Q3: What were some key challenges when making this film? How did you overcome them?

Filming during the night as well as shooting during Covid lockdowns and regulations. It's not easy doing night shoots one after the other but to get the exact look we wanted, it was necessary.

Q4: Tell us a funny anecdote or a memorable moment from making this film.

In order to get the lighting I wanted in the woods for the external shots, I had to climb high into a tree and drape the light over a tree branch. Everyone below was expecting me to fall so the suspenseful silence was quite funny.

Q5: How did you get into the film industry?

I started making short films with my older brother when I was small, from there I guess the interest grew but I didn't take it fully until I'd come back from my stents at sea and started university studying film.

Q6: What films or filmmakers have been the most inspiring or influential to you and why?

Master and Commander is one as well as The Mission. I loved the historical accuracy in Master and Commander and it proves that you don't need to forgo accuracy in order to make a good film. The Mission is an amazing film but it's the ending scene that sells it. The most hard hitting scene in cinema history I think.

Q7: Do you have a favorite film project that you have done? Why?

My favourite to date would be The Breaking. It's my latest film and set in old Ireland and the story focuses on alcoholism but in an abstract way. The film takes place in a bog and the scenery is stunning.

Nigel Mercier in "The Cathedral" / Photo courtesy of Dolmen Films. All Rights Reserved.
Nigel Mercier in "The Cathedral" / Photo courtesy of Dolmen Films. All Rights Reserved.

Q8: What advice would you share with a new filmmaker about filmmaking or the industry?

Have a group of like minded filmmakers and don't rush a shot just because it's easy or you're running out of time. Nitpick your work because your work is a reflection of you.

Q9: Can you tell us about any of your upcoming projects?

We have two short films due to be put into development and we are currently working on a feature film script set in 1920s Ireland.

Q10: Where can people find out more about your work?

You can visit or my LinkedIn page.

Thanks for reading Cosmic Film Festival news! Check out our latest festival here.


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