The Refilmery Series podcast is the weekly show that takes you behind the year’s most exciting films and into the lives of the people who create them.

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Viva director Paddy Breathnach joins us from LA to speak about the highs and lows of being Ireland’s Official Submission in the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 88th Academy Awards.

Imagine you are an Irish film director on holiday in Cuba. You stop in at a night club and there decide to make a coming of age film about a Havanan drag queen.

As a foreigner, how would you find locations and cast? Not to mention language – because you have to translate your entire English script into Spanish.

That was the case for Breathnach with his film VIVA: the story of a Havanan youth who does hair for elderly women and makeup for a troupe of drag queens.

Hesus dreams of being a performer, but when he finally gets his chance to be on stage, a stranger emerges and punches him in the face.

That stranger is his father, Angel, a former boxer, who has been absent from his life for 15 years.

As father and son clash over their opposing expectations of each other, Viva becomes the love story of two men struggling to become a family again.

* * *

The show is recorded at our live event in New York at WeWork SoHo West – the perfect venue to meet fellow creatives and movie buffs.

Join us in person and you’ll receive complimentary beer and popcorn and get to see the film on the big screen. The intimate venue means you’ll actually get to meet the filmmaker.

Receive discounts by joining the community mailing list at See event photos at Subscribe to the Podcast at

Credits: project management and graphic design by Francesca Rimi; event photos by Thi Ho; produced by; hosted by David Joshua Ford.


About the Director

Viva-Director-Paddy-Breathnach PADDY BREATHNACH – Director Paddy Breathnach started his directing career making natural history documentaries. His first feature, Ailsa, won the Award for Best First / Second Film at the San Sebastian Film Festival. His second feature I Went Down (BBC films) starring Brendan Gleeson, also won the New Directors prize at the San Sebastian Film Festival in 1997. I Went Down screened at Sundance in 1998 and won the Best Director awards at Thessaloniki and Bogota Film Festivals.

He produced SouthPaw, a feature documentary that was selected for Sundance in 1999 and got a US and UK theatrical release.

Breathnach then went on to direct Blow Dry (Miramax), which was released in 2001. His next film was Man About Dog, produced by Robert Walpole and Simon Channing Williams (The Constant Gardner). It was released in 2003 and became one of the most successful independently produced Irish films.

He has also directed a number of horror films including Shrooms (2006). In 2012 he completed the feature length documentary An Oiche a Gineadh m’Athair for TG4.

He is a board member of The Dublin International Film Festival and is vice chair of The Screen Director’s Guild of Ireland. He is also on the board of the Irish Film Institute.


Viva-Poster IMDb
100-min | Drama | Ireland, Cuba (Spanish)
Release Date: April 29, 2016

Director: Paddy Breathnach
Writer: Mark O’Halloran

Héctor Medina … Jesus
Jorge Perugorría Jorge Perugorría … Angel
Luis Alberto García Luis Alberto García … Mama

VIVA stars Héctor Medina as Jesus, a young hairdresser working at a Havana nightclub that showcases drag performers, who dreams of being a performer himself. Encouraged by his mentor, Mama (Luis Alberto García), Jesus finally gets his chance to take the stage. But when his estranged father Angel (Jorge Perugorría) abruptly reenters his life, his world is quickly turned upside down. As father and son clash over their opposing expectations of each other, VIVA becomes a love story as the men struggle to understand one another and reconcile as a family.

VIVA was a hit at the 2015 Telluride Film Festival, and is Ireland’s entry for the Best Foreign Film Academy Award this year.

Event Photos

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See what others are saying about Viva:


The Hollywood Reporter

The Guardian

Screen Daily

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