Clare Dunne, the writer and star of the new Irish film Herself, has told RTÉ Entertainment that she hopes its story of a single mother trying to build her own home makes Ireland realise "how quick we can turn things around and possibly build again".

Herself, which is directed by Mamma Mia! and The Iron Lady director Phyllida Lloyd, will have its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in the US this weekend. It is the closing film at this year's Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival and will open in Irish cinemas later this year. Catastrophe's Sharon Horgan is among the producers.

Dunne said the homebuilding story came from "a very simple desire to unravel the chains that are around it in our heads" and was inspired by a friend and her children who had to leave their rented accommodation and move back home to her parents.

"It's feelgood but with a definite reality bite," Dunne said of the film. "It's what they call a 'dramedy', I think - the technical term!"

Dunne's character, Sandra, "starts out in temporary accommodation, wondering how she's ever going to move on and have her own home". 

"Something happens in the movie where she goes, 'I'm going to look up self-building'. She finds an eco design online that is available to download yourself and begin building. 

"It's fiction, but it's based on fact - I googled 'self-build cheap Ireland' and found [architect] Dominic Stevens' design online for free. Dominic has been a vital part of making the movie; he was the first person I met for my research."

"It's a hero's tale, and a redemptive one at that," added Dunne. "Full of hope.

"The phoenix always rises from the ashes. And I think, no matter what, and especially at a time like this, we need to realise how quick we can turn things around and possibly build again. Build in new ways, integrate together in new ways."

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