Archive of films The Magdalene Sisters / The Magdalene Sisters

United Kingdom / Ireland
2002, 119 min

Section: Horizons - Award-Winning Films
Year: 2003

Ireland, the 1960s. In the cloister of the Sisters of Mercy young women do penance for the sins society says they’ve committed. With realistic and expressive impact, the director captured the conditions in which the girls lived, as well as their individual destinies. The film was awarded the Golden Lion at the 2002 Venice IFF.  


Ireland, the 1960s. If a girl was guilty of becoming a single mother, behaved provocatively, or was even the innocent victim of rape, she was sent to a cloister of the Sisters of Mercy. None of these unfortunates, however, can imagine what lies behind the walls where they must do penance for their “sins.” Hard labour is perhaps the least of the evils. Their stay also brings humiliation and the nuns’ despotic treatment. This includes a mother superior shielding herself behind the assertion that she acts in accordance of God’s will, and only for the good of her charges. Director Peter Mullan says of his film: "I couldn´t possibly have made it up. I´m not that good a dramatist. And what disappoints me is the attitude of those who claim that nothing like this ever happened. But I don´t regard the film as anti-Catholic. I regard it as an attempt to right the injustices done to thousands of young girls over a great many years. It amazes me that the Magdalene sisters´ last reformatory was only shut down six years ago."

About the director

Peter Mullan (b. 1954, Glasgow) was interested in directing movies from an early age. He wasn’t accepted, however, to the National Film School and decided on an acting career instead. He debuted in theatre in 1988, then in the films Riff Raff (dir. Ken Loach, 1991), Braveheart (dir. Mel Gibson, 1995) and Trainspotting (dir. Danny Boyle, 1995), as well as in television. For his starring role in Ken Loach’s My Name is Joe (1998) he took Best Actor at Cannes. As director he shot episodes of the BBC television series Cardiac Arrest. The Magdalene Sisters is his second feature; it received a 2002 Golden Lion at Venice and the Toronto IFF’s Discovery Award. Filmography: Good Day for the Bad Guys (1995, short), Fridge (1996, short), Orphans (1997), The Magdalene Sisters (2002). 


Wild Bunch
65 rue de Dunkerque, 75009, PARIS
Tel: +33 143 132 130
Fax: + 33 1 431 321 30

SPI International Czech Republic
Branicka 1950/209, 140 00, Praha 4
Czech Republic
Tel: +420 261 216 318
Fax: +420 261 221 375

About the film

Color, 35 mm

Section: Horizons - Award-Winning Films
Director: Ajay Devgan
Screenplay: Peter Mullan
Dir. of Photography: Nigel Willoughby
Music: Craig Armstrong
Editor: Colin Monie
Producer: Frances Higson
Production: PFP Films Ltd.
Cast: Geraldine McEwan, Anne-Marie Duff, Nora-Jane Noone, Dorothy Duffy, Eileen Walsh
Contact: Wild Bunch, SPI International Czech Republic


Ivana Vrbíková

Producer, Producer

Ivan Hronec


Nora-Jane Noone


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