Irish actress Ella Connolly wins two awards for Eliot & Me at the 12th China International Children’s Film Festival: the International Jury Award for Best Performance by a Child Actress and the Award for the Children’s Favorite Child Performer.
Famous Chinese actress Jiang Wenli chaired the international jury and singled out Ms. Connolly’s performance as “compelling and authentic, with a naturalness rare in child acting. Her character was very believable”. The second award was voted by the children’s jury, which is made up of 200 children from local primary and middle schools.
The festival, the biggest of its kind in China, is held every two years. This year the festival took place in Siping City in northern China. Over 500,000 children watched the films in the weeks leading up to the festival. ‘Eliot & Me’ was the first Irish film to be selected for the festival and the only English language film screened in the competition. Funded by the Irish Film Board and RTÉ, the film tells the tale of 10 year-old Lucy and her efforts to find her missing dog.
Ms. Connolly (13) who attended the closing ceremony said she was exhilarated to win both prizes. She was competing with young actors in films from Belgium, Holland, Germany, Sweden, Russia, Canada, Switzerland, Iran, India, Singapore, Korea, Japan, Indonesia and China.
Called to the stage twice she thanked both juries for the prizes. “We flew to Paris, then to Beijing, then to Changchun and then drove to Siping. It’s a long way from Ireland but it’s so cool to be here.” Director Fintan Connolly and producer Fiona Bergin accompanied her to the festival.
“When we were making the film we had no idea we would end up travelling around the world screening it at film festivals. So many kids’ films have young boys as their central characters and I wanted to create a story that had a young girl as the hero for a change. I think the audiences like this”, said the director.
The film’s visit to China was supported by Culture Ireland.