The Irish and English-language production follows Clarke’s 2018 found footage horror The Devil’s Doorway, which was acquired by IFC for the U.S.
Billed as the first ever Irish-language horror, Fréwaka revolves around care worker Shoo, who is haunted by a personal tragedy.
Shoo is sent to a remote village to care for an agoraphobic woman, who fears both the neighbors and the Na Sídhe – sinister folkloric entities she believes abducted her decades before.
As the pair develop a deep connection, Shoo becomes consumed by the old woman’s paranoia, rituals, and superstitions, eventually confronting the horrors from her own past.
The title originates from the Irish word “fréamhacha”, meaning roots that are entwined underground.
The cast features Clare Monnelly (Moone Boy), Bríd Ní Neachtain (The Banshees of Inisherin, Róise & Frank), and Ukrainian actress Aleksandra Bystrzhitskaya (F20).
“This film is an original take on Irish folklore and contemporary Ireland, exploring the tension that exists between past and present, the personal and the public,” says Clarke.
The director, who works between Ireland, London and L.A., holds the Academy of Motion Picture and Science’s Gold Fellowship 2020, which supports emerging female filmmakers.
Fréwaka is produced by Dermot Lavery for DoubleBand Films and Patrick O’Neill for Wildcard.
It is funded through the Cine4 scheme, supported by Screen Ireland, TG4, Coimisiún na Meán (formerly the BAI), and Section 481 which is the same scheme which funded the Oscar-nominated Irish film The Quiet Girl.
“We’re excited to be part of a film, which combines an emotional story with great sense of eeriness and plays with folk iconography, which we personally love so much,” said New Europe CEO Jan Naszewski.
New Europe also represents sales on three Best International Feature Film Oscar submissions to the 96th Academy Awards : Poland’s The Peasants (Sony Pictures Classics), North Macedonia’s Housekeeping for Beginners (Focus Features) and Iceland’s Godland (Janus).