Alan Gilsenan is an award-winning Irish film-maker, writer, and occasional theatre director based in the hills of County Wicklow, outside Dublin.
His innovative and acclaimed work covers an eclectic range from hugely sensitive documentaries about very difficult subjects to mainstream feature film, from experimental visual “poems” to provocative cinema documentaries as well as - more recently branded content - for companies such as Vodafone.
Recent productions include the feature film Unless, starring Catherine Keener, which received it’s world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival and a cinema documentary about radical psychiatrist Ivor Browne Meetings with Ivor.
Gilsenan graduated from Trinity College Dublin with a First Class Honours in Modern English and Sociology. While studying for a M. Litt in Drama Studies, he made his first film, Samuel Beckett’s Eh Joe. He then directed - at the invitation of Britain’s newly-founded Channel 4 - a number of landmark documentary films about Ireland including The Road To God Knows Where (a controversial film which won the Dziga Vertov Jury Prize at the European Film Awards), Stories from the Silence, Prophet Songs and Between Heaven and Woolworths.
His other highly diverse documentary work includes the drama-documentary Eliza Lynch: Queen of Paraguay, which premiered at the London Film Festival; God Bless America for ITV in Britain, six highly personal portraits of U.S. cities through the eyes of American authors; A Vision: A Life of WB Yeats, an experimental life of the famous poet; The Ghost of Roger Casement, a feature documentary on the international humanitarian and Irish rebel; and The Irish Mind, a four-part look at the defining qualities of the Irish across the globe.
He has also made a number of documentary series on highly sensitive social issues for Irish television: The Asylum (a four-hour portrait of Portrane Psychiatric Hospital), The Hospice, I See A Darkness (about suicide) and A Time to Die (on euthanasia).
Alan Gilsenan’s film drama also includes the short thriller Zulu 9 as well as two low-budget and experimental feature films All Souls’ Day (which he also wrote) and Timbuktu. He received an Irish Film & Television Award (IFTA) nomination for Timbuktu as both director and production designer. He has received three IFTA awards, six IFTA nominations and two Jacobs’ Awards.
Other work in the arts includes a cinema documentary on the legendary folk singer Liam Clancy entitled The Yellow Bittern; as well as intimate portraits of other artists including the poet Paul Durcan in The Dark School, the visual artist Sean Scully in The Bloody Canvas and the playwright Tom Murphy in Sing On Forever.
Alan Gilsenan has also served on the Irish Film Board; as Chairman of the Irish Film Institute; as Chairman of Film-Makers Ireland - now Screen Producers Ireland; and as a member of the Board of the International Dance Festival Ireland. He is currently on the Board of Fighting Words, a creative writing centre for young people.
He is currently finishing a drama film entitled The Meeting.
Gilsenan’s range and interests are varied and diverse: light opera and musicals, Latin America, nature writing, dogs, athletics, Japan, coffee, mountaineering (in his dreams), Great American novels, ecology, books (especially unread), the Caribbean, contemporary dance, land rovers, Antartica, chocolate (expert), boxing and Paddington Bear…