Aislinn Clarke

Filmmaker
Headshot of a woman.

Photo by  Joanne Mullin

Music Credit: “NY” written and performed by Kosta T, from the cd Soul Sand, used courtesy of the Free Music Archive.

<Music up>

Aislinn Clarke: I like a horror film that's about something, that isn't just horror for horror's sake. I like it to be thoughtful and intelligent and I like a horror film that I come away thinking about things in a new way. I like things that shine a light on the darker elements of human behavior.

Jo Reed: That’s film director Aislinn Clarke, and this is Art Works, the weekly podcast produced at the National Endowment for the Arts. I’m Josephine Reed. Let me begin by saying that the world of horror is not where I dwell. But at the Capital Irish Film Festival, I was intrigued by The Devil’s Doorway, the first feature length horror film in Northern Ireland to be directed by a woman because Aislinn Clarke would set her film in the Magdalene laundries—institutions that were real-life horror stories for untold numbers of women. Run by the Catholic Church, the Magdalene Laundries were compulsory workhouses for women of supposed ill-repute. They were haunting grim places, and they are at the center of Aislinn’s film. The film’s action unfolds in Ireland in 1960. In a Magdalene laundry, a statue of the Virgin Mary has been said to weep blood. The question is: is this miraculous or is it a hoax. Two priests are sent to the laundry to investigate to investigate: a world-weary older priest, Father Thomas, and an idealistic young priest, Father John, who is eager to witness a miracle and capture it on film. That’s all I’m saying about the plot—no spoilers here. But I was eager to meet the director who created such a marriage of real-life and imagined horror. Luckily, Aislinn Clarke came to The Capital Irish Film Festival, presented by the Contemporary Arts organization, Solas Nua, and the AFI Silver Theater and Cultural Center. Aislinn and I we were able to meet and talk. I had many questions, but I began with the Magdalene laundries.

Aislinn Clarke: Magdalen laundries were institutions where women were kept, ostensibly they were for women of low morals, you know, prostitutes, single mothers; but actually, in reality, all kinds of women could end up in these places. You could end up in there; basically all you needed was a male member of your family to sign you in. So there were women who ended up in Magdalen laundries that could not leave because their parents died and the brother wanted to inherit the whole property, this kind of thing happened as well. Women were put in there because they were considered to be a moral risk to the men of the community. They were basically a dumping ground for women who were in some way or another considered to be difficult or not useful. While they were there they had to perform labor for the church. There were other forms of labor, but the laundry was the most common one and that involved washing sheets, which is a nice metaphor for cleaning your sins, you know. But the truth is, that they were washing them for restaurants and hotels and private homes and whatnot. And the last one closed in 1997-- no, in 1996, apologize-- and that was not so long ago, you know.

Jo Reed: No.

Aislinn Clarke: By that point there were very few and people weren't really being sent to them anymore, but there were still some women who were in there who had been in there for some time. So there are women alive today who are 40 who have been in Magdalen laundries, so it's not ancient history.

Jo Reed: In doing some research about it, knowing that we were going to speak, I was stunned by two things. One, that they were for-profit organizations. I had no idea about that. And the second thing was that they were worldwide. They were in the United States. They were in Sweden, Australia.

Aislinn Clarke: Yeah. A lot of people think that they were a specifically Irish phenomenon.

Jo Reed: Yes, I did.

Aislinn Clarke: But it was basically anywhere we had a concentration of a Catholic population that you would have the Magdalen laundry. As you say, they had them in Spain. They had them in South America. They had them in the States. They had them in I think Canada might have had a couple as well.

Jo Reed: Yeah.

Aislinn Clarke: So, yes, they were all over the place.

Jo Reed: Stunning. Now for you, what came first, wanting to make a horror movie or wanting to make a movie about the Magdalen laundries?

Aislinn Clarke: I think for me it was wanting to make a movie about the Magdalen laundries. I actually did a lot of research. I used to work in TV and more in the documentary area and about 2005 I had done a lot of research into development for a documentary which never ended up getting its finance and it was about Magdalen laundries. I spoke to a lot of survivors and women who'd been in these places but also people who had been born there that were trying to find their mothers, people in the States a lot of the time, and ever since, I'd just been fascinated by them. I had my son when I was 17 and that was 1997, the year after the last laundry closed, so I always felt close to it. I always felt like I could have been one of those women in a different, a slightly different time or with a different family. My parents would never have done that to me, but if I'd been in a slightly different family it could have been what happened to me. And I felt a kinship with these women and I was interested in their stories.

Jo Reed: Your father, apparently, also had a connection with the Magdalen laundries, however tenuous. Explain that.

Aislinn Clarke: My dad delivered-- he was a bread man as we call it in Ireland, so basically he worked for a bakery that his father and his grandfather had worked for also, and he delivered bread. That was what he did from he was 13-years-of-age. One of the places he delivered bread to was a convent in the town that I grew up in, in Dundalk. On Saturday mornings I used to get up early like many kids do, to watch the Saturday morning cartoons and at the time, my mother had a part-time job in a credit union. So I would be watching the Saturday morning cartoons when I'm like 8-years-old, something like that, and he would come in and out on his runs, so he'd call background and he used to bring me home a chicken toasty <laughs> from the-- from the convent that the nuns used to make, you know, which was a nice thing for them to do and they would say, "Bring that home to your daughter." But I remember him telling me about the Magdalen laundries and describing what they were like. He didn't like walking through. He had to walk through the laundry, he described it as a kind of a white hot hell. It was full of daylight. Big, big windows, steam everywhere, very, very hot. Steam running down the walls, water on the floor. And the girls were lugging these huge, heavy, heavy wet sheets and they all just looked so worn and tired and beaten. And I always remember the images he described. And my father was a very empathetic person but I know that he found it very uncomfortable being in that space and he felt that there was something not right. But this was the eighties. These places existed in plain sight, you know. Everybody knew that they were there. Everybody. It wasn't just nuns or priests, it was the whole community and the threat of ending up in one was always hanging over everyone's head. Anybody could end up there. The perception was that the women who went there, there was a reason why they ended up there, but people kind of left it. It wasn't their business, and people weren't really talking about that then. They weren't really looking at these issues as they eventually have started to do. So it was something I had had on my mind since then. So when I met the producer, I'd never thought about it as a horror film, but I've always loved horror and I think horror can be very useful when it comes to looking at social trauma and helping us to unpack social trauma if it's handled in the right way. So I thought there was potential there to do something.

Jo Reed: I want to interrupt you. Why do you think horror can be particularly useful in doing that?

Aislinn Clarke: Because I think it helps us to confront things in a more visceral way rather than talking about them in an academic sense or in a distant way. It makes them very immediate and visceral. And I think that's something that horror has always done. I'm talking about horror as literature as well and even way back to fairy tales from hundreds of years ago. It's been a tool that we've used to learn about ourselves and the horrible things that we can do in real life. A lot of those classic horror tales are really very gory as we know.

Jo Reed: Yes, indeed. <Laughs>

Aislinn Clarke: Yeah.

Jo Reed: And is that what draws you to horror? You like horror? Do you watch horror?

Aislinn Clarke: Yeah, I love horror. I like all films. I studied film and I did a master's degree, so I'm not solely a horror person, but I do like horror and I see the value in it. And that is what I like, specifically, about horror.

Jo Reed: Did you grow up watching horror films?

Aislinn Clarke: Oh, yeah. So my dad was big into movies. He was, my dad was-- I'm not from a very well-off family and we're very working class and but my dad was very-- he wasn't an educated man but he was a very intelligent man. He left school when he was 13 to go and work, you know. But he loved movies. He loved horror films. He loved Westerns, especially. And we would watch movies together. On Friday nights, we would rent a VHS and watch movies together and we were both really into it and so were my sisters and brother. My mom, not at all. <Laughs>

Jo Reed: Was there a horror film that was particular-- or a few that were particularly influential or that grabbed you when you were younger?

Aislinn Clarke: I distinctly remember seeing The Exorcist when I was much too young to have seen The Exorcist. <Laughs>. I think I was about 7 or 8-years-old. But I was the youngest of four and by the time my parents had all those kids, you know the way things kind of slide a little bit in terms of rules and so on. So I got to see it, but I was put out of the room at bits that were considered to be too extreme, so I would be--

Jo Reed: By yourself? <Laughs>

Aislinn Clarke: Yeah. <Laughs> By myself, which in many ways was probably worse. I remember sitting at the bottom of the stairs and you'd have to wait to be called back in, you know. But I'd be sitting on the bottom of the stairs filling in the gap. And I could hear what was happening, so I'd be thinking, "What's happening?" And I would be making up my own story in my head about what was happening then, so--

Jo Reed: Which was probably even scarier.

Aislinn Clarke: I think it probably terrified me more and in some ways maybe contributed to me being a horror filmmaker now. So that and I also vividly remember seeing Nightmare on Elm Street and in the case of that I was about, again, about 7 or 8-years-old and just been completely fascinated that someone had created-- it was like playing, you know, someone had created this whole world and this whole story kind of like I did with my dolls every day and I thought that would be a really wonderful thing to do. I didn't know what a director was. I kind of thought that maybe the actors just made it up as they went along or I didn't understand how it operated, but I just thought it would be so much fun to make a whole world and allow people to live in it for a couple of hours.

Jo Reed: What makes a good horror film?

Aislinn Clarke: Well, I think a lot of people probably have different--

Jo Reed: Yeah, for you, obviously, yeah.

Aislinn Clarke: Opinions on that, but for me, a good horror film is something that-- I have a different opinion on this now than I did when I was 7, by the way. It was a very different thing. I like a horror film that's about something, that isn't just horror for horror's sake. I like it to be thoughtful and intelligent and I like a horror film that I come away thinking about things in a new way. And I think there is a perception that horror is very gory and it's just it's purely about the pleasure of watching violence or something like that, and those are not the kind of horror movies that I enjoy. I'm not really into exploitation. I like things that shine a light on the darker elements of human behavior.

Jo Reed: And so this project, The Devil's Doorway, doing a horror film about the Magdalene laundries, tell me how this project came together.

Aislinn Clarke: Well, I was approached by the producer of the film back when it was really just a kernel of an idea and the idea was to make a horror film set in a Magdalene laundry, but it was a very different horror film. It was modern day and it would be more like The Blair Witch Project in that it would be improvised and we would put some people into a disused Magdalene laundry or something that we could make look like a Magdalene laundry and we would scare the pants off them and then get a 90 minute film out of it. That was the original idea. I thought if you're going to do a horror film, something that's in a Magdalene laundry, you might think that you could do that without making any political comment or social comment, but I think you were still making a comment and that is that you don't care about it and I felt that that could easily be very exploitative if you're making these women who suffered in this place figures, the source of the live threat, what are you saying about them? I thought it was very-- it could be quite problematic. And also beside that, I thought it was a missed opportunity. There's so much found footage horror on the market and if it was contemporary and it has that same look, a bunch of kids in a scary place, no matter how good you made it, I think people wouldn't even watch it. It would just seem like another one of those movies. I felt that there was an opportunity to do something that sat aside of the subgenre in a way that was more aesthetically interesting and also that went into a human drama in the story.

Jo Reed: You mentioned found footage and that you used that technique in The Devil's Doorway. Can you explain what that is?

Aislinn Clarke: Found footage is when you shoot a film in a first person's perspective so one camera, first person film. Sometimes it's more than one camera, but it's always from a first person perspective and you present it as though it's almost like faux documentary style, I guess. So something like The Blair Witch Project would fall into that category of found footage.

Jo Reed: And in your film you had one of the priests, Father John, as the documentarian taking film of what they're trying to unravel at this Magdalen laundry about the mystery and is it a miracle or is it not.

Aislinn Clarke: Yeah. So my angle into it, into making it a found footage film, was to have this mystery in it where they're investigating is this statue or is it not weeping blood? Is it someone-- is it trickery or is it a real miracle and that they've been tasked with documenting that process, so one of the priests is a documentarian and he has a 16 millimeter camera and a lot of the film is shot on 16 millimeter film and that's kind of my way into making it found footage, which is a different angle. My aesthetic references were the Maysles brothers' documentaries of the early sixties. I was thinking more in that kind of line. It's more, it has more of a documentary feel rather than the kind of frenetic, very immediate feel of other found footage films.

Jo Reed: What opportunities were offered to you by doing it with found footage and what were the challenges, because I'm sure there were both?

Aislinn Clarke: I think that found footage, it comes with its challenges but also has some benefits. If you plan well, you can shoot quite quickly. We shot the film in 15 days, which is not a long time for a feature film. Some of that is to do with the format. For example, when you're doing interviews or in my case, it's interviews, but it would be conversations if it was a more straightforward narrative fiction film, you don't have to worry about the reverses. It's okay to have the off-camera voice that is the other part of the conversation and just have that one face, so you don't have to shoot three or four setups in each scene, you can have one and really focus on the performance in that one character. So that's one way that it makes it simpler. The difficulty is that you always must have a reason for why the camera is here now, why, what is it doing now, why is it there, what is it capturing. You don't have the freedom to tell the story in whichever way you please when you have the removed eye of-- that you have in a narrative fiction film normally. You have to have an explanation for what this eye is doing now and why all of the time, so that brings its own challenges as well. In terms of what it opens up to you, I think for this film and the way that it is, the way that we approached this film, I feel that it allows you to really get into the character, particularly of Father Riley, Lalor's character.

Jo Reed: And that's Lalor Roddy who plays--

Aislinn Clarke: Yeah.

Jo Reed: Father Thomas Riley, because Father John is typically the documentarian, the camera is typically trained <laughs> on Father Thomas, yeah.

Aislinn Clarke: And to some extent, it becomes confessional. It's like the camera is the eye of God to some extent and that's how I thought of it throughout.

Jo Reed: And you shot in 16 millimeter. How was that for you? Is that a film that you were used to using? Was that, was there a learning curve for you? Again, I'm sure benefits, I'm sure challenges.

Aislinn Clarke: I'd actually done quite a bit of film. A lot of the films that I made as a student were 8 millimeter. I had my own 8 millimeter camera, so that was <laughs> largely, at first, it was the only thing I had. I had no access to any other kind of equipment so I got used to using film and I liked the tactile quality of it. So film is something I like to work with but I also made some shorts in 35 millimeter as well. So for me, it wasn't scary. I was used to that. I'm used to being economical with how I shoot. I'm used to thinking about shooting from a film point of view and I don't like to in any case in how I operate, I don't like to shoot reams and reams. I like to know what I'm going for all the time rather than working it out on the day. I do that so that I can be open to sometimes things happen that are unexpected in a good way and you can take the time to capture those things. I don't go for quantity, I try to shoot small amounts of quality and know what I'm going for each day, but also be able to pick out the things that were unexpected that are happy accidents.

Jo Reed: And I wonder about the music and your choices of when to use it because obviously it is very important to any film. But somehow with horror because everything is so heightened and there's this growing tension and release, it just strikes me as even more integral.

Aislinn Clarke: I think sound is very, very important and I've done a lot of audio theater in the past.

Jo Reed: Ah.

Aislinn Clarke: So I'm very aware of sound and I think--

Jo Reed: Yeah, because, I don't mean to interrupt, but I was very aware of sort of the soundscape of it.

Aislinn Clarke: Yeah. I think about that. I think about sound. And I think sound is sometimes overlooked in horror films and I think it's so important in horror films. So much of it is driven by the sound and that's very often overlooked, I think.

Jo Reed: I wonder if that has to do with you being sent out to sit at the bottom of the stairs <laughs> during parts of it--

Aislinn Clarke: Yeah.

Jo Reed: So you could hear it?

Aislinn Clarke: Someone has posed that before and I think there might be something in it because I was building a sound, I was building a story from the sound in my head, you know. But especially in this film because, because it's found footage and it's a single person camera. You're limited in some ways because you can't show everything that you could show if it was a straightforward narrative fiction film and you can't get all the coverage that you would normally get, but you can get coverage with sound. You can show so much of that world that's outside of the camera with the sounds of what's happening. And I'm just always because of having done audio theater, in particular, I'm always aware of what story is coming from the sound. It's not just the visual people tell you, what people say, the dialogue; it's what's going on in the auditory world as well.

Jo Reed: Just very briefly, how did you get funding for The Devil's Doorway? What was that process like?

Aislinn Clarke: Northern Ireland Screen had a scheme which was called a New Talent Focus. I don't think they do it anymore. But they had £230,000 sterling to give to a director and producer team to make a first feature film, so that's where we got it from.

Jo Reed: What drew you to become a filmmaker?

Aislinn Clarke: That's an interesting question. I think I was always interested in films. I was always interested in visual storytelling. Even when I talk about my dad and his 16 millimeter camera, there's one film that he did and these were always silent films back then, and we had arranged this little scene together basically, where I'm about 6-years-old, I think, and we're at this old castle in Dundalk. We were there and it looks as though I'm falling off a precipice, you know, so I'm holding on with my hands and I'm, like, doing the silent movie <laughs> overwrought acting. And then the camera comes around and I smile and I, you can see my feet are on the ground, and then I run off, you know. And there's dramatic music. He put dramatic music on it, you know. It was kind of to scare my mother or something, so that's kind of an early <laughs> horror film that I had a hand in.

Jo Reed: <laughs> Yeah.

Aislinn Clarke: You know, I think maybe it could have been my idea, you know. I don't remember. I remember shooting it. I remember seeing the film. But I've always been interested. And then later when we had other movie cameras when I was older and allowed to use them myself, I was always walking around the house, you know, bothering my brothers and sisters and my mother and just shooting things. I always had an interest in it. And then I went to Queens to study film but it was very much academic. It was film theory.

Jo Reed: Ah.

Aislinn Clarke: You know, we was watching a lot of films rather than a practical course. I think that was actually a very crucial stage in developing my eye for film and my understanding of cinematic language, much more so than a practical course would have been.

Jo Reed: Yeah. No, I agree.

Aislinn Clarke: Yeah.

Jo Reed: I would think that would be incredibly useful.

Aislinn Clarke: I think for a director in particular,--

Jo Reed: Yeah.

Aislinn Clarke: I think it's crucial to just watch lots and lots of really great films. And then I did an M.A. as well, a master's degree. And I was making movies then but I mean, I wasn't really sharing them with anybody. I had a little Super 8 camera and I was kind of just shooting things that I found interesting or, you know, beautiful or in some way and then I would put them together and I made some visuals for nightclubs. I made some music videos for people and things like that. But I wasn't really thinking about myself as a filmmaker. I was a film academic who was interested in shooting things sometimes. I remember actually someone telling me at some point when I said, "Maybe I would like to actually make <laughs> films," and being told that I didn't have the right personality.

Jo Reed: Ooh.

Aislinn Clarke: Yeah. I think there's--

Jo Reed: And did they tell you what the right personality was?

Aislinn Clarke: Oh, it was someone who's-- Because I'm quite a gentle person and I think the perception was that directors are--

Jo Reed: Men.

Aislinn Clarke: Are men.

Jo Reed: <laughs>

Aislinn Clarke: I think that was a big part of it. And also have a very masculine energy that come in and kind of boss everybody around and everyone lives in terror of them; rather than being someone who's like me, quite soft and gentle. And I did take, I took that to heart at the time and I thought, "Well, maybe it's not for me." So it took me a while to actually think about myself like that. But when I finished my master's, I had made a short documentary about the-- I grew up on the border, basically, and our--

Jo Reed: Of Northern and the Republic in Ireland, yeah.

Aislinn Clarke: Of the North and the South. Yeah. So I was born, like, one, two miles south of it and then I spent my teenage years two miles on the other side. You could walk from one to the other, you know. So I say that I'm from the border rather than being from the South or the North. It's its own distinct place.

Jo Reed: I bet.

Aislinn Clarke: So there was huge army barracks in our tiny village. Beautiful, and area of outstanding natural beauty, the Ring of Gullion in South Armagh, and this massive army barracks that completely overshadowed the whole village and our lives, you know. And when it was being taken down I made a documentary about it and it got put on TV a number of times and I got contacted by a company who had a commission, a very unusual commission, to make a slate of short documentaries. So I went and did that and that's when I started to think of myself as a filmmaker rather than somebody who just shot things.

Jo Reed: You know, you are, which you do know you are, but you are the first woman in Northern Ireland to direct a feature length horror film.

Aislinn Clarke: Yeah.

Jo Reed: How are women being seen and heard in the Northern Ireland film industry?

Aislinn Clarke: Well, I think Northern Ireland is a special place as well in that there was no industry. I mean, we had a civil war for a long time.

Jo Reed: But now?

Aislinn Clarke: And now, there is an industry. But there wasn't even like 15 years ago. So when I was a film student there wasn't really very much happening. There were some people who had made some very interesting documentaries but we didn't have the infrastructure, you know.

Jo Reed: Yeah.

Aislinn Clarke: So people who had the desire or the talent to become cinematographers and editors and so on, they went somewhere else. They didn't stay. There was the brain drain, as they say, for a long time for lots of disciplines, not just film. But then basically what changed everything was Game of Thrones. <Laughs> So Game of Thrones, a lot of it was--

Jo Reed: In so many ways.

Aislinn Clarke: Yes.

<Laughter>

Aislinn Clarke: In so many ways, but it was shot, a lot of it was shot in Northern Ireland. And having that massive, huge production there for ten years did so much to just develop an industry in Northern Ireland. So now we have world class post-production facilities and we have the Paint Hall Studio, which is a big, massive studio space for shooting in. We have people who are trained to a world class level in all of the disciplines of filmmaking and they live there. They didn't have to go somewhere else. And a lot of Northern Irish people do want to stay there. They love Northern Ireland. It's home. So this gave them an excuse to not have to leave. So then those people when they're not shooting Game of Thrones, they were able to shoot my films and other people's films and we're only now beginning to see the fruits of that investment into our own filmmaking in Northern Ireland.

Jo Reed: Do women have to fight for a place or how--?

Aislinn Clarke: Well, I think we didn't have an industry at all until quite recently. And as is the case everywhere else in the world, it tends to be more difficult for women and they come along a little bit later. So I think we're seeing the same thing. There's a lot of complex reasons why women aren't at the forefront and there's a lot being done at the minute, hopefully, to address that. I know that Northern Ireland Screen, our film funding body, are concerned about and they are interested in bringing women up and supporting them and encouraging them to make films and I think in time, hopefully, we'll have more of that.

Jo Reed: Do you think about this, and maybe you don't and if you don't, that's fine, but how film and the films that are made would change if women were involved basically straight through?

Aislinn Clarke: Yeah. I think we have a lot of films that are very much coming from a male gaze. That's talked about a lot, but films that see the world in a very male way and have done historically for a long time. Those are the kind of films that we're getting and film is a very important part of our culture, the stories that we tell ourselves. There's a lot of people who don't even read books but they watch movies. So women are not contributing to the stories that we tell ourselves as a culture and I think that's a difficulty and I think things would change quite a lot. It would be really nice to have an all-female crew on something and to see how that changes dynamics and the feel of a production, and there have been movies that were very female-led that feel like that, and I think we've a long way to go, really, until we're seeing more. And the funny thing is that if you had an all-female crew, people would say, "Oh, wow, that striking," somehow, but we've had a lot of all-male crews throughout history and they don't seem unusual at all, you know.

Jo Reed: Because that's the way it is.

Aislinn Clarke: Yes.

<Laughter>

Jo Reed: And are you going to stay in the world of horror?

Aislinn Clarke: No.

<Laughter>

Aislinn Clarke: Well, no, I love horror and I love the horror community, you know, I could be making a horror film when I'm 70, you know. <Laughs> But I don't want to just make horror films.

Jo Reed: Yeah.

Aislinn Clarke: You know. I don't think I'll leave the genre and never return, but I would like to--

Jo Reed: It's not a one and done.

Aislinn Clarke: Yeah. I just want to tell a lot of stories and I don't want to hedge myself into any genre. I don't think I'll ever make a romantic comedy or a comedy at all, probably, but I am interested in dark stories. I'm interested, actually, in the extremes of human behavior and in human beings that are in extreme situations. That doesn't have to be horror.

Jo Reed: Well, Aislinn, thank you. Thank you so much.

Aislinn Clarke: Thank you.

<Music up>

Jo Reed: That’s director Aislinn Clarke —we were talking about her recent horror film: The Devils Doorway, which was shown at The Capital Irish Film Festival. Many thanks to Solas Nua and the AFI Silver Theater and Cultural Center. You’ve been listening to Art Works the weekly podcast produced at the National Endowment for the Arts. Subscribe to Art Works wherever you get your podcast and leave us a rating on Apple—it helps people to find us. For the National Endowment for the Arts, I’m Josephine Reed. Thanks for listening.

########

Aislinn Clarke is the first Northern Irish woman to direct a feature-length horror film The Devil’s Doorway, and she brought a particularly female point-of-view by setting it in a Magdalene Laundry in 1960 Ireland. The Magdalene Laundries were institutions run by the Catholic church that were real-life horror stories for an untold number of women. They were essentially workhouses for women of “ill-repute” which could mean unwed mothers, prostitutes, women who wouldn’t get out of the way…the list of women who could be put away is quite long and varied. Aislinn Clarke feels connected to the laundries—shockingly, the last one closed in 1996—there was one in the town she grew up in and her father worked for a bakery and would deliver bread to the place. His stories stayed with her…as did his love for film, particularly horror films. Aislinn and I have a wide-ranging conversation about the history of the Magdalene Laundries, women in the film industry, what makes a good horror film and not a word about St. Patrick!