Cillian Murphy said filming "Small Things Like These," the adaptation of Irish author Claire Keegan's acclaimed novel, was a "labor of love."

Murphy, who this year became the first Irish-born actor to win the Best Actor Oscar, was speaking about the Irish film after it was announced that Lionsgate had acquired distribution rights in North America, the UK, and Ireland.

Lionsgate will partner with Roadside Attractions for North American theatrical distribution.

Cork native Murphy said: “Especially since 'Small Things Like These' marks the first project from Big Things Films, I’m particularly pleased Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions will bring it to audiences in Ireland, the US, and UK.

"Making the film was labor of love; I can’t wait to talk about it.

"We are enormously grateful to Artists Equity for their unwavering support throughout this process. From the moment we shared the script, they have been there for us, and we are immensely grateful for their philosophy and partnership.”

"Small Things Like These," which was the opening night film playing in competition at the Berlin Film Festival this year and won a Silver Bear for Emily Watson’s performance, takes place over Christmas in 1985, when devoted father Bill Furlong (Murphy) discovers the startling secrets being kept by the convent in his town, and some shocking truths about his own life as well.

"Small Things Like These" was filmed in Ireland last year. Murphy produced the film with his producing partner Alan Moloney through their production company Big Things Films.

The project reunited director Tim Mielants and Murphy, who previously worked together on the BAFTA Award-winning series “Peaky Blinders.”

Enda Walsh, a longtime collaborator of Murphy’s, wrote the screenplay adaptation. Catherine Magee also serves as a producer along with Murphy and Moloney.

"Small These Like Things" was financed and put into production by Artists Equity, the artist-led studio founded by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. Damon produced the film with Drew Vinton, while Affleck executive produced alongside Kevin Halloran and Michael Joe.

The film is an Irish/Belgian co-production with additional funding coming from Screen Ireland. Belgium’s Wilder Films co-produced.

Adam Fogelson, Chair of the Lionsgate Motion Picture Group, said this week: “We are incredibly proud to bring this film to audiences.

"Claire Keegan’s book is a captivating, heart-wrenching, and empathetically told story of a character who uncovers not only a local mystery, but also discovers who he really is.

"Cillian is at the peak of his powers, both as an actor and a producer, and it’s exciting to work with Matt and Ben to distribute a film they have shepherded so lovingly.

"It’s especially meaningful for us to be distributing in Ireland, where we are confident audiences will embrace the film.”

Affleck and Damon, Co-Founders of Artists Equity, said, “When Cillian and Alan Moloney brought this project to us, we instantly said we wanted to help bring it to life. We couldn’t be prouder of that decision.

"This is simply a wonderful film, one that we think really does justice to Claire Keegan’s astounding, poignant novella.

"We are elated to partner with Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions so audiences across the US, UK, and particularly Ireland will be able to see it.”

Roadside Attractions’ co-presidents Eric d’Arbeloff and Howard Cohen added: “Seeing Cillian Murphy, one of the world’s greatest actors, back on his home turf in Ireland in such a powerful film will be a joy for film lovers.

"While everyone knows Emily Watson is also extraordinary, her performance in 'Small Things Like These' left us stunned when we saw the film in Berlin.

"We are so excited to be partnering with Lionsgate and Artists Equity on the release.”

Kaycee Holcomb and Elin Madadian along with Lauren Bixby negotiated the deal for Lionsgate.

"Small Things Like These" was published in 2021 by Grove Press and quickly went on to critical acclaim, having been shortlisted for the 2022 Booker Prize and the Rathbones Folio Prize. Keegan's novel also won the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction, the Ambassadors’ Prize for best Irish novel published in France, and The Kerry Prize for Irish Novel of the year. It was also longlisted for the Dublin Literary Award.

In 2023, the adaptation of Keegan’s previous novel “The Quiet Girl” marked Ireland's first international film nomination (and the first time an Irish-language film has been nominated for an Academy Award).

Keegan’s additional works have won numerous awards and have been translated into more than 30 languages. “Antarctica” won the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature and “Walk the Blue Fields” won the Edge Hill Prize for the finest collection of stories published in the British Isles.

Her novella “Foster,” after winning the Davy Byrnes Award — then the world’s richest prize for a story — was chosen by The Times of London as one of the top 50 works to be published in the 21st Century; it is now part of the school syllabus in Ireland.