Private Project

Medicated Milk

A re-telling of the life of Lucia Joyce (26 July 1907 - 12 December 1982), daughter of Irish writer James Joyce.
Lucia Joyce was a talented dancer, writer and musician. She spent her life under the control of her father James, her family and multiple doctors. Her time in Ireland during the 1930s – particularly in Bray, Co. Wicklow – was one of her few moments of freedom. This film deftly interweaves Lucia’s story with the filmmaker’s own to explore accounts of loss and trauma spanning over 100 years.
Medicated Milk is a film by Aine Stapleton, made in collaboration with José Miguel Jiménez, and features an original soundscore by Somadrone.
“A must see“ Film Ireland
“Strange and startling” The Irish Examiner

  • Aine Stapleton, in collaboration with José Miguel Jimenez
  • Áine Stapleton
  • Áine Stapleton
  • Donal Dineen, Andrew Doyle, Ayla Stapleton, Áine Stapleton
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
    Experimental, Feature
  • Genres:
    Dance, experimental, feature
  • Runtime:
    46 minutes 33 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    June 15, 2016
  • Production Budget:
    12,000 EUR
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Museo Svevo E Museo Joyce
    June 17, 2017
  • NYU Tisch School of Arts
    New York
    United States
    June 25, 2016
  • Irish Film Institute
    June 16, 2016
  • Irish Film Institute
    January 9, 2016
  • Dublin Fringe Festival
    September 8, 2016
    Irish premiere
    Nominated for two Dublin Fringe Awards - Best Design and First Fortnight Award
  • Dublin Fringe Festival
    September 9, 2016
    Nominated for two Dublin Fringe Awards
  • Dublin Fringe Festival
    September 10, 2016
    Nominated for two Dublin Fringe Awards
  • Kinoteka Belgrade
    March 15, 2018
Distribution Information
  • N/A
Director Biography - Aine Stapleton, in collaboration with José Miguel Jimenez

Áine Stapleton works in dance, film, and music. She has a 1st Class Honours Degree in Dance Studies from the University of Surrey, London. Áine is currently creating her second film about Lucia Joyce, daughter of Irish writer James Joyce, which will be filmed in Zurich in late 2018. This project is supported by the Arts Council of Ireland, Arts and Disability Ireland, Dance Ireland, The James Joyce Centre Dublin, and the Irish Embassy in Bern, Switzerland.

Her first film Medicated Milk is inspired by Lucia’s later years at St. Andrews psychiatric hospital in England. Medicated Milk was made with José Miguel Jiménez and features an original sound score by Somadrone. Previous screenings include the Irish Film Institute in Dublin, Tisch School of the Arts in New York, The Joyce Museum in Trieste Italy, Light Moves Festival in Limerick Ireland, and most recently at Kinoteka Belgrade in Serbia - “succeeds in giving a voice to a woman from the past through a shared experience with a woman from the future, through the medium that has suppressed women for centuries, the creative arts...A must see" Film Ireland.

Áine co-directed Fitzgerald & Stapleton Dance Theatre, with dance artist Emma Fitzgerald between 2008 and 2015. The company have been critically acclaimed by the New York Times “Smart sophisticated movers" and described as “Touches deeper stranger chords" by The New Yorker.

For collaborative and solo projects, Áine has received co-productions, commissions, and residencies from; Abrons Arts Centre NYC, Centre for Performance Research NYC, Project Arts Centre and Dance Ireland Dublin, the Obie Award-winning Chocolate Factory Theatre NYC, Bakelit Multi Arts Centre Budapest, Mermaid Arts Centre Bray, Tanzhaus Zurich. Her work has been funded by the Arts Council of Ireland, Dublin City Council, Dance Ireland and Culture Ireland.

She has been invited to speak about her work at various conferences and events including; 'Women, War and Peace' at Trinity College Dublin, 'Body Stories' at University College Cork and 'The Book and The Body' at University College Dublin.

Áine is a member of the band Everything Shook. The group has been listed as Best Irish Act by The Irish Times, who also described their debut album as a “bittersweet symphony with a side-dish of menace".

Press extracts:

“...fuses dazzling dance sequences, radiant underwater cinematography and graphic scenes of nudity and animal butchery to create a distinctive, yet unflinching interpretation on the loss, trauma and marginalization suffered by both Lucia and the director herself…A must see” Film Ireland
“ ..a provocative experimental film...strange and startling” The Irish Examiner
“A choreographic touch makes spare use of speech...The film’s strategy is to summon Lucia through rare first-hand accounts while the camera tracks gestures of scorched skylines and the sea ...Perceptively, Stapleton observes that dancing granted Lucia freedom, and represents her institutionalisation as a tragic shutdown of the body “ Exeunt Magazine

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

'Medicated Milk' was an opportunity for me to explore the life of Lucia Joyce through her own words. The majority of Lucia's writings were destroyed by her nephew, Stephen Joyce, following her death. I gathered some of her remaining writings from the University of Texas in Austin and The National Archives in London in order to create 'Medicated Milk'. This film focuses on letters that Lucia wrote to friends and family between 1960 and 1982, as well as a dream diary, at St. Andrew's Psychiatric Hospital in England.

Lucia Joyce was a professional dancer in Paris in the 1920's. She trained with many avant-garde choreographers including Raymond Duncan and Margaret Morris. Much of her life was dictated by her father's writing career, and following an argument with her mother, she was incarcerated by her brother Giorgio in 1932. She was then left in psychiatric care for 47 years, during which time she had one visit from her brother and no contact with her mother. She was forced to undergo many experimental treatments for schizophrenia, although many of her doctors could not agree on a conclusive diagnosis about her.

The imagery and text for this film were inspired by Lucia's dream diary which she created as part of her therapy sessions at St. Andrews Hospital, as well as her biography and letters of communication between Lucia and her cousins in Ireland. Filming took place at locations where she spent time in Ireland during the 1930's, mainly Bray, Co. Wicklow. The music is inspired by songs she would have listened to or played on the piano.
I interspersed stories from my own life, in order to hint towards what I feel may have happened to Lucia, based on her writings.

I have recently been funded to create a follow-up film to 'Medicated Milk' by the Arts Council of Ireland, partnered with Tanzarchiv Zurich and the Irish Embassy in Bern, Switzerland. It will be filmed in Switzerland in Autumn 2018 and is due for release in March 2019. It will examine Lucia's life between 1915-1950. This film features NYC based performer Michelle Boulé, and an original soundtrack by David Best and Ed Chivers of UK band 'Fujiya and Miyagi'.

For every screening of 'Medicated Milk' to date, I have provided a post-show discussion and would be happy to do this for future screenings.