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Lenny Abrahamson Takes his Giant Headed Frank to Sundance

Abrahamson, known for his innovative style of film direction, is presenting one of his more unusual visualizations to date at the Sundance Film Festival.

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BFI 51st London Film Festival: Film Makers Breakfast

Lenny Abrahamson / Getty

Lenny Abrahamson is undoubtedly among  the  film industry’s most unusual new generation of  directors, with the movies he has released to date creating considerable audience impact, particularly in the United Kingdom.

To begin with, Abrahamson was born and raised in the city of Dublin in Eire, far away from the bright lights of Hollywood. To date the Irish producer has released just three “ fringe” movies,  “Adam & Paul”, ” Garage” and “What Richard Did” all of which enjoyed  critical acclaim as well as  relative box office success, mostly catering for UK audiences.

However Abrahamson’s latest release, and possibly his most bizarre yet, a quirky tragicomedy, entitled Frank, based on a character created by the late and often controversial Chris Sievey,  an English musician and comedian who created a fictional comic persona  under the alias of  Frank Sidebottom is looking likely to attract a wider audience, with at least one third of it being shot in the United States.

Frank Sidebottom became something of a cult figure in the UK especially in the North West of England, around 20 years ago, making regular TV appearances as a singer and comedian.

What made  Frank (or Chris Sievey) stand out from the crowd was that whenever he appeared in public, he would be wearing an oversized  and obviously fake head.

Now almost a quarter of a century later Lenny Abrahamson has taken up the gauntlet, or more accurately the giant fake head, and placed German born actor Michael Fassbender inside it, to take the role of Frank, backed up by Maggie Gyllenhaal  as well as some of his Southern Irish compatriots, in  particular Domhnall Gleeson taking supporting roles.

Frank was co-written by Peter Straughan a well known playwright and author, based in the North-East of England with inside information coming from Jon Ronson, who had been a member of Sievey/ Frank Sidebottom’s band.

Frank was shot on location in Southern Ireland as well as in New Mexico and is set to make his world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on Friday, January 17th.


Frank / Sidebottom

Discussing the film the recent interview, Lenny Abrahamson admitted that his Frank is only loosely based on the  Frank Sidebottom character, from which the writers to inspiration, especially in the slapstick aspect of his humor. One major difference is that Michael Fassbender, who will be playing Frank, has a broad American accent having lived there for many years, while  Chris Seivey was from the North West of England has made no attempt to hide the fact in his accent.

While most of the film was shot in southern Ireland,  in and  around Dublin, although the last third takes place exclusively in the United States.

According to early reports, Frank is indeed an unusual film, a mixture of comedy and music, yet one with the potential to make  considerable impact at  the box office.

The Sundance Film Festival, one of the largest independent film festivals in the United States and in its 35th year has marked the launching board for many successful films and film directors, there is no reason to suspect that Frank or Lenny Abrahamson should not be joining them.


Lenny Abrahamson was born in Dublin, Southern Ireland (Eire). While in his twenties Lenny was awarded a scholarship  by Stanford University, to study for a PhD in Philosophy.

However, even then his heart was in the film business and Lenny returned to Dublin without completing his degree. Lenny cut his teeth, making commercials for the local market, before directing his first local movie “Adam and Paul”, a black comedy on the Dublin underground scene which enjoyed considerable critical approval, particularly among local audiences

Lenny rapidly followed that up producing another cult movie, “Garage” in 2007. Garage told the story  of a lonely gas station attendant living in rural Ireland. Both of Lenny’s first productions were recipients of the Irish Film & Television Awards( IFTA) award for best film.

In 2012, after some time out directing television dramas , Abrahamson turned his attentions back  to the world of movies succeeding in winning his third IFTA for best film with “What Richard Did” ,  classed as being  the most commercially and critically successful Irish film of 2012.




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