Welcome to Yellow Asylum Films, the award-winning Irish film and television production company.
Over the course of more than 20 years Yellow Asylum Films has produced a series of innovative and acclaimed documentaries filmed both in Ireland and around the world and tackled subjects as diverse as emigration, euthanasia, the Catholic Church and mental illness. We have also made a number of dramas including the feature film Timbuktu.
Yellow Asylum Films has produced work for (among others) BBC, CHANNEL 4, RTÉ AND PBS and has a number of major projects in development.
The Story of Yellow Asylum
Yellow Asylum Films is one of Ireland’s leading films and television production companies. It was founded in 1986 by writer/director Alan Gilsenan and producer Martin Mahon to make an award-winning film of a Samuel Beckett screenplay Eh Joe, which featured Siobhán McKenna in her final performance.
The company has since made many documentaries for Channel 4, ITV, RTÉ and BBC. The first of these, The Road to God Knows Where, won both a European Film Award and a Jacobs’ Award. Other documentaries include Prophet Songs (about radical Catholic priests); Stories From The Silence (about the first people in Ireland to speak publicly about AIDS – it also won a Jacob’s Award); Between Heaven And Woolworths (a film about the tradition of story-telling); The Green Fields of France (remembering the forgotten Irish who died in World War One); Private Dancer (a behind-the-scenes view of Ireland’s first lap dance club); and Maura's Story (the extraordinary if tragic tale of a young Irish woman who became a Buddhist saint); and in conjunction with UTV, Yellow Asylum also made a history of Irish dance for ITV called Emerald Shoes.
Other television includes Home Movie Nights, 27 programmes of social history utilizing people’s home movie footage, also for RTÉ; as well as the opening sequence of the 1995 Eurovision Song Contest.
Also for ITV Network, Alan Gilsenan directed six one-hour films entitled God Bless America. These were highly personal profiles of United States’ cities through the eyes of American authors such as Gore Vidal, Neil Simon and Garrison Keillor. He also directed a major history of the Irish Diaspora The Irish Empire as well as a series on the life of Roger Casement in The Ghost of Roger Casement (winner of the Best Documentary at both the Irish Film and Television Awards and at the Celtic Film festival); Sing On Forever about playwright Tom Murphy and for Crossing The Line Films the feature documentary on the life and times of Liam Clancy, The Yellow Bittern (which also won an IFTA).
In recent years Yellow Asylum made a number of documentary series for RTÉ on major, previously unseen institutions: The Asylum, taking an intimate and personal look at St Ita’s Psychiatric Hospital in Portrane; The Hospice (another IFTA winner) set in St. Francis’ Hospice in Raheny and The Home in St. Monica’s nursing home in inner-city Dublin as well as a ground-breaking series on suicide, I See A Darkness.
They also made the historical documentary Fenian Fire and in the arts field three films: a portrait of Paul Durcan, The Dark School the painter Sean Scully (The Bloody Canvas) and a film on the writings of Pearse, Ó Pheann An Phiarsaigh.
They have also made a series of films for the National Library of Ireland as part of their James Joyce and WB Yeats exhibitions.
Recently Yellow Asylum made Two For The Road, which looked at disability though the world of adventure trips. It was screened on RTÉ television in Sep and Oct 2011 and was extremely well-received both critically and with the public and Masterpiece – Ireland's Favourite Painting which drew large numbers of extra people into galleries all over Ireland in 2012.
Martin Mahon also directed his own comedy series for RTÉ called Straight To Video as well as the short Happy Birthday To Me which was screened in competition in Cannes in 1998.
Alan Gilsenan is former Chairman of the Irish Film Institute, former member of Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board and the RTÉ Authority.
Martin Mahon is a former journalist and the former deputy Commissioning Editor at the Independent Production Unit at RTÉ as well as Programme Director of the Dublin Film Festival from 1992-97.