"Small Things Like These" will become the first Irish film to ever open the Berlin International Film Festival, also known as 'Berlinale,' tonight, Thursday, February 15.

Ahead of the film's screening, the movie's stars, including Oscar nominee Cillian Murphy, shared their thoughts on the film adaptation of Irish author Claire Keegan's best-selling novel during a press conference on Thursday.

Asked how the project came about, Murphy said he "really wanted to work with Tim [Mileants] again after working with Tim on 'Peaky Blinders' series three.

"I knew he was a real, true artist and we got on really, really well and he's such a phenomenal director.

"We were trying to find a project that we wanted to work on and he called over to me in Dublin and we were just throwing things around and then it was actually my wife said, 'Well, what about Claire Keegan?'

"I had read the book but I didn't realize that the rights were available. We checked and miraculously the rights were available."

Murphy said he brought the idea to Alan Moloney and Enda Walsh and they both loved it. Matt Damon, who Murphy co-starred with in the blockbuster "Oppenheimer," also loved it and greenlit the project through his studio Artists Equity.

"It happened really quickly but it was just kind of good karma," Murphy said on Thursday.

"Small Things Like These" takes place over Christmas in 1985, when devoted father and coal merchant Bill Furlong (Murphy) discovers startling secrets kept by the convent in his town, along with some shocking truths of his own.

The film reveals truths about Ireland's Magdalene laundries — horrific asylums run by Roman Catholic institutions from the 1820s until 1996, ostensibly to reform “fallen young women.”

Adapted from the Booker Prize-nominated novel by Claire Keegan, the film is an Irish/Belgian co-production, financed by Artists Equity and supported by Screen Ireland.

Murphy, a native of Co Cork, was asked during Thursday's presser how Ireland is grappling with the shame of Magdalene Laundries and what the mental cost could be.

While Murphy acknowledged he's probably not best qualified to speak on behalf of all of Ireland, he did say: "I do think that it was a collective trauma, particularly for people of a certain age, and I think we're still processing that.

"I think art can be a really useful balm for that wound.

"I think the book certainly was a huge seller in Ireland, seems like everybody read it.

"I think the sort of irony of the book is that it's a Christian man trying to do a Christian act in a dysfunctional Christian society and it asks a lot of questions about complicity and silence and shame and all of those things.

"But, I really don't think the duty of art is to ask those questions, it's kind of to provoke them. Maybe it's kind of easier to absorb than an academic report or a government report."

The film, which was filmed in Ireland and co-stars Eileen Walsh, Michelle Fairley, Emily Watson, and Clare Dunne, will open the 2024 Berlin International Film Festival tonight where it is also in competition.