Irish Short Film Review: Gridlock

Stephen Porzio reflects on the Irish short film Gridlock, directed by Ian Hunt Duffy, who won a Young Directors Award in Cannes last week.

Atmospheric and tense, Ian Hunt Duffy’s short film Gridlock finds terror in the every day. Moe Dunford (so terrific in Handsome Devil) plays Eoin, a father – travelling with his daughter – caught in a traffic jam. Leaving the car briefly to discover the cause of the gridlock, he returns to find his child missing. Suddenly, everyone becomes a suspect.

Like any good short, Gridlock is brief but leaves an impact. Darach McGarrigle’s script does an effective job at highlighting the many different ways people react in traumatic situations. Gridlock shows how, in the event of a potential child disappearance, mob mentality can take over. As with the character played excellently by Love/Hate’s Peter Coonan, certain people’s eagerness to find the child mutates into hostility – often aimed at the wrong person. They can accuse others without any serious evidence to back up their claims. Also, personal views or prejudices may colour how they act. They jump to conclusions, quickly regarding alleged “culprits”.

McGarrigle’s script also feels natural and organic. Characters don’t immediately fly off the handle. Instead, events gradually intensify as people begin to grow more agitated and frightened, eventually tipping over into violence.

Duffy’s direction is solid too. Not only does the short look and sound great, it wisely isn’t flashy – a good choice as it makes the events feel realistic to the audience. Any overt stylistics could have perhaps made the viewer more aware they were watching a film.

Without spoiling, there is a stinger in the tail – a final moment which will leave the film lingering long in the memory. Ultimately, Gridlock is a compact short – one which leaves a distinct mark in little time. In the way Lorcan Finnegan and Garret Shanley moved from short filmmaking with Foxes to feature length with Without Name, I hope Duffy and McGarrigle make a similar transition.




Irish Filmmaker Wins Top Prize at Foyle Film Festival

©/Lorcan Doherty Photography - 20th November  2016.  Eavan King and Bernie McLaughlin from the Foyle Film Festival and Eamonn McLaughlin from  Brunswick Moviebowl present the Light In Motion Award for Best Irish Short Film to the filmmakers of Gridlock.  Photo Lorcan Doherty Photography
Eavan King and Bernie McLaughlin from the Foyle Film Festival and Eamonn McLaughlin from Brunswick Moviebowl present the Light In Motion Award for Best Irish Short Film to the filmmakers of Gridlock.
Photo Lorcan Doherty Photography

Northern Ireland’s Oscar-affiliated Foyle Film Festival has announced the winners of its Light In Motion awards, with a host of local and international cinema celebrated at the annual event in Derry.
Taking home the top prize for Best Irish Short was Ian Hunt Duffy for Gridlock, a thriller set during a traffic jam on a country road, featuring some of Ireland’s finest actors including Moe Dunford, Peter Coonan and Amy De Bhrun. The short fought off stiff competition from three other Irish films – Strangers in the NightFoxglove and runner-up Pause.


The film, along with winner of the Best International Short Grandma’s Day from Polish director Milosz Sakowski will now qualify for consideration of the Academy Awards.


Grandma’s Day focuses on Tomek who needs money and tries to pull a ‘grandparent scam’ on an elderly womanEverything is going fine until she locks him in her apartment and threatens to expose him, unless he pretends to be her grandson when a social worker comes to visit.


The award for Best Animation went to South Korean director Seongmin Kim for Green Light, which follows Mari who does all she can to rebuild after a nuclear disaster.
Ransacked from director and former banker Petur Einarsson about the financial crisis in Iceland in 2008 was named as the winner of Best Documentary.


The awards, sponsored by City of Derry Crystal, were followed by the screening of The Eagle Huntress in Brunswick Moviebowl, bringing to a close five days of premieres, special events and industry networkingSpecial guests at this year’s festival included; filmmakers John Maclean (Slow West), Tony Cranstoun (I Give It A Year, Mr Bean’s Holiday) and Ciáran McMenamin (Made In BelfastTo End All Wars) and James Northcote (A United Kingdom, The Imitation Game, Belle, Wuthering Heights).


The Foyle Film Festival is one of only a handful of International festivals with Oscar® affiliation and BAFTA recognition.


Bernie McLaughlin, director and programmer of the Foyle Film Festival, said: “We are proud to honour the winning filmmakers of our Oscar®-affiliated Light in Motion awards. We’ve been privileged this year to enjoy a really impressive array of short films, documentary features and short animations from around the world.


“I’d like to thank all our competitors for sharing their work at Foyle Film Festival and we wish them all the very best in their careers going forward.”


Full list of Light in Motion Awards Winners & Runners-up


LIM AWARD – BEST IRISH SHORT: Gridlock directed by Ian Hunt Duffy

Runner Up – Pause directed by Niamh Heery


LIM AWARD – BEST INTERNATIONAL SHORT: Grandma’s Day directed by Milosz Sakowski

Runner Up – Standby directed by Charlotte Regan


LIM AWARD – BEST SHORT ANIMATION: Green Light directed by Seongmin Kim

Runner Up – Way of Giants directed by Alois Di Leo


FFF BEST DOCUMENTARY WINNER: Ransacked directed by Petur Einarsson

Runner Up – How to Defuse a Bomb The Project Children Story directed by Des Henderson



Cork Film Festival 2016 Awards Ceremony


Irish short film Gridlock (pictured) is in contention for an Oscar®, after being selected as the Grand Prix Irish Short winner at the Cork Film Festival 2016 Awards Ceremony. The award was presented ahead of the Closing Gala screening of the sell-out, A United Kingdom, sponsored by Ford Ireland, at The Everyman.

Ian Hunt Duffy’s winning short will now go on the longlist for the 89th Academy Awards® in the Live Action Short Film category. Prize money of €1,500 was also presented by RTÉ.

Gridlock is a thriller set during a traffic jam on a narrow country road, and the desperate search by a father for his young daughter, after she goes missing from their car.

The winner of the Grand Prix International, Maria Luz Olivares Capelle’s Forest of Echoes (Austria), will also automatically qualify for the Academy Awards® longlist.

Other prize winners announced at the closing ceremony included Tatiana Huezo’s Tempestad, who won the Award for Cinematic Documentary, proudly sponsored by Ford. It follows the emotional journeys of two women victimised by corruption and injustice in Mexico.

The Shorts Jury, chaired by David (Dobz) O’Brien, the Programme Manager at the National Sculpture Factory, also selected Oonagh Kearney’s Oíche Nollaig na mBan, a visual response to the famous poem by Irish language poet Seán Ó Ríordáin, as the winner of the Best Cork Short, while Best Documentary Short went to Mike Hoolboom’s Scrapbook. The Best Irish Music Video went to Stevie Russell for The Coronas’ The Long Way and Best International Music Video to Steven Vander Meer for Boomerang, composed by Christopher “Bird” Jowaisas, and performed and recorded by The Absynth Quintet.

The Cork Film Festival Nomination for the 2017 European Film Academy Award was Andrea Harkin’s The Party.

The Features Jury, chaired by Associate Director of Programming at Hot Docs, Sarafina DiFelice, awarded Dark Night the Spirit of the Festival Award. Tim Sutton’s feature is a disquieting response to the mass shooting that took place in a cinema in Aurora, Colorado in 2012.

The Audience Award, presented by The River Lee hotel, was won by Tiffany Hsiung’s acclaimed The Apology – following the personal journeys of three former “comfort women” who were among the 200,000 girls and young women kidnapped and forced into military sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. The Cork Film Festival Youth Jury Award went to Ben A Williams for his debut feature The Pass. The film focuses on two young professional soccer players who share a hotel room the night before their first big game, when out of nowhere, one kisses the other.






Grand Prix Irish Short Gridlock
Grand Prix International Short Forest of Echoes
Best Cork Short Oíche Nollaig na mBan
Spirit of the Festival Award Dark Night
Award for Cinematic Documentary Tempestad
Audience Award The Apology
Cork Film Festival Nomination for the 2017 European Film Academy The Party
Youth Jury Award The Pass
Best Irish Music Video The Coronas – The Long Way
Best International Music Video Composer Christopher ‘Bird’ Jowaisas & performers The Absynth Quartet – Boomerang
Documentary Short Award Scrapbook

‘Gridlock’ Wraps

 1-IMG_4157-2L/R Lucina Russell, Arts Officer, Kildare County Council, Peter Coonan, Brenda Molloy, Film/TV Events Liaison | Coillte – Photographs by John Houlihan, Gonz Photography


Dublin-based Fail Safe Films have completed shooting the dramatic thriller Gridlock at Coillte’s Donadea Forest Park, County Kildare. The short which was commissioned by Kildare County Council now goes into post production with an expected release in November.


Gridlock  is a short dramatic thriller set amidst the chaos of an intense traffic jam. When a little girl goes missing from one of the cars, her father forms a desperate search party to find her, and soon everyone is a suspect. The film is directed by Ian Hunt Duffy with an all-star cast including IFTA winner Moe Dunford, Peter Coonan,  Amy De Bhrún  and Steve Wall, Joe Mullins, Ronan Leahy.


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