Celtic Soul, a documentary that explores the fascinating fandom for the Scottish soccer club Celtic, is a history lesson stuffed into a buddy road trip movie.
The film, which has its western Canadian premiere on Friday at the Whistler Film Festival, stars Jay Baruchel, the Canadian actor and filmmaker, and Eoin O’Callaghan, an Irish journalist whose resume includes a short stint at The Vancouver Sun in 2010, as a pair of unlikely buddies who spend a week together, mostly cramped in a car, exploring sport and self.
Eoin O’Callaghan, who gained a following hosting Fox Soccer Report (2010-2012), “met” Baruchel, star of movies such as This is the End, Tropic Thunder and Knocked Up, on Twitter.
“I got this message on Twitter saying Jay Baruchel starting following me. So I followed him and sent him a message saying I was a big fan of his, and he sent me a message saying he was a big fan of mine, which kind of blew me away. This is so bizarre. Jay must have watched Fox Soccer Report that’s the only thing I can piece together,” said Eoin O’Callaghan
They later traded ideas and collaborated on the movie pitch through conversations on Skype.
“I knew Jay was a Celtic fan and that he was a very proud Montrealer and Canadian. I just sent him a message saying I’m doing this thing on sport and Celtic is one of the teams I am looking at.”
When he learned of Baruchel’s Irish ancestry — the actor’s family immigrated to Canada in the 1840s at the height of potato famine — O’Callaghan had the thread he needed to stitch a narrative together.
“The origin story of Celtic, this team in Glasgow, is basically the same thing. The team was set up as a charitable deed for Irish immigrants who came to Glasgow post-famine in the 1840s. It was something for the Irish community to get behind in this new city because they didn’t have anything,” he said. “So as soon as Jay mentioned the Irish ancestry, a little bell went off in my head and I thought hang on, now only can we chart Jay’s support of the team but parallel to that maybe he can also investigate is there a genealogical or DNA reason why he supports this team. Is it to do with Irish background and his Irish heritage.”
Jay and Eoin’s awesome sports adventure starts in Montreal with a trip to the Bell Centre, the home of the Montreal Canadiens, Jay’s other favourite team, and ends in Glasgow with Baruchel fulfilling a lifetime dream of seeing his beloved team play live at hallowed Celtic Park.
“We kind of look at how certain sports franchises transcend sports for some reason and how some organizations have this inextricable pull — this allure — for certain people,” O’Callaghan said. “There is a relatively straight line that you can draw between the Habs and Celtic in terms of having this special, unique, cultural, religious place within each country’s fabric.”
While sports and fandom are the backbone of the movie, and the only reason Baruchel and O’Callaghan even met, Celtic Soul’s heart lies with the self-discovery moments that occur during the film’s extended stretch in Ireland.
“It’s not necessarily a sports film. I’m sure sports fans will have those cool moments of ‘I can’t believe they got that access’ and ‘look how cool that looks’ but on the other hand the vast majority of people will pick up on the ancestry and the personal journey and finding out where you are from,” O’Callaghan said. “One word that comes up a lot, and it’s weird because we didn’t start out to make Citizen Kane, is immigration. When we showed the movie in Toronto, we fielded a lot of questions about immigration. Here’s this kind of film and seems to be fluffy and cuddly on the outside but it’s really about finding out who you are. In the current climate, particularly in certain parts of the world, that seems to be a no-go area and that term ‘immigration’ seems to be a swear word.”
HOLLYWOOD NORTH NOTES
School is in session: Public Schooled, a comedy starring standup comic Russell Peters, Judy Greer (Jurassic World, Antman) and Grace Park (Hawaii Five-O), started filming in Vancouver last week. Public Schooled is the story of a socially awkward boy, Liam, who has been home-schooled his whole life. When Liam falls in love with a popular one-legged girl, he abandons his mother’s suffocating love and enrolls in public school – entering an eye-opening world of sex, drugs and social mayhem. Newcomer Daniel Doheny, a veteran of Bard on the Beach productions, plays Liam.
Winslet, Elba sightings: A-listers Kate Winslet (Titanic) and Idris Elba (Star Trek Beyond) have arrived in Vancouver to shoot the plane crash/survival film The Mountain Between Us. The two stars were spotted dining at Ancora on Tuesday. The Mountain Between Us, which is scheduled to begin production on Monday, is being helmed by Palestinian director Hany Abu-Assad.
Thunderbird adapting Decker-Lazarus novels: Vancouver’s Thunderbird Studios, makers of the upcoming Blade Runner 2049 and the Netflix cartoon Beat Bugs, are bringing Faye Kellerman’s best-selling Decker-Lazarus mystery novels to television. David Salzman (MADtv and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air) will serve as executive producer. The show will focus on the first Decker-Lazarus novel The Ritual Bath. The story, set in the world of Orthodox Judaism, centres on hard-nosed LAPD Detective Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus, a widow and mother of two who witnesses a brutal crime and becomes embroiled in solving it.
Cage gets groceries in Osoyoos: Nicolas Cage created a stir in the Okanagan last weekend after being spotted buying fresh produce at the Osoyoos Buy-Low Foods. A photo of the movie star posing with Buy-Low staffer Denise Gray made the rounds on Facebook. Cage is in Okanagan, not for the overpriced avocados, but rather to film the sci-fi feature The Humanity Bureau. The story is set in 2030 with global warming wreaking havoc in parts of the American Midwest. In its attempt to take hold of the economic recession, a government agency called The Humanity Bureau exiles members of society deemed unproductive and banishes them to a colony known as New Eden. The Humanity Bureau is the second title in a six-picture slate deal between Minds Eye Entertainment, VMI worldwide and Bridgegate Pictures following Wesley Snipes’ The Recall, which was also shot in the Okanagan during the summer.
Space shooting: The Vancouver-made Netflix series Lost in Space, the Lionsgate update of the 1960s TV show of the same name, has been given a production start date of Jan. 23. The 10-episode family/sci-fi adventure will follow the Robinson family as they drift through space. Vancouver actress Molly Parker (Deadwood, House of Cards) will play Maureen Robinson, a role originated by June Lockhart.