Cottoning on to a bally miracle

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The Independent Online
The last prop van had barely left the set of the aborted Marlon Brando film "Divine Rapture" in Ballycotton, County Cork, this week when rumours of its surprise resurrection were gathering pace.

In mid-week actors such as John Hurt were convinced the black comedy was buried for good when production finance failed to materialise, leaving film crew and businesses in the picturesque fishing village unpaid.

The movie's rebirth would have an uncanny echo. The script is about a machinist in a bra factory, played by Debra Winger, who dies during love making but comes back to life at her funeral, causing the local priest, Father Fennell, played by Brando, to declare a miracle has taken place.

Yesterday, a spokesman for Michael D. Higgins, Ireland's Minister for Arts and Culture, whose favourable tax treatment of production costs has secured 40 film projects for the republic worth IRpounds 170m in the last 18 months, confirmed interest had been expressed in resuming the production. But he said the contacts had so far been "very much exploratory." He would not confirm reports that Brando had been in touch with Mr Higgins this week to keep the film's officially-sanctioned tax package in place. The minister did however have a series of conversations with Brando before the film's demise on Monday, according to official sources.

The movie, directed by Thom Eberhardt, was almost half way through shooting when Paris-based backers Cinefin proved unable to deliver budget finance for the $16m production. Irish investors raised IRpounds 5m, but it was not yet due to be transferred to the production.

Brando is understood to have been paid only a $1m advance of his $4m fee. Only one cast member, a local mongrel called Snowy who earned the Equity canine rate of IRpounds 35 a day, is believed to have been paid in full.