The IFTA Film & Drama Awards took place last night (14th Feb 2018) at the Round Room of the Mansion House.
Gabriel Byrne received the Irish Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by the President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins. Ros Hubbard, legendary casting director, received the Spotlight Casting Director Award. Jacob McCarthy (The Drummer and the Keeper) won the Irish Film Board’s Rising Star Award.
The show will be broadcast on RTÉ One on Saturday 17th February at 10.45pm.
The full list of winners is below.
Winners of the IFTA Film & Drama Awards 2018
Aisling Walsh, Maudie
Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE – FILM
John Connors, Cardboard Gangsters
ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE – FILM
Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE – FILM
Barry Keoghan, The Killing of a Sacred Deer
ACTRESS SUPPORTING ROLE – FILM
Victoria Smurfit, The Lears
GEORGE MORRISON FEATURE DOCUMENTARY
IRISH FILM BOARD RISING STAR
Jacob McCarthy, The Drummer and the Keeper
SPOTLIGHT CASTING DIRECTOR AWARD
SHORT FILM – LIVE ACTION
ANIMATED SHORT FILM
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Ethan Hawke, Maudie
Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
The Irish Film & Television Academy announced the Nominees for the 2016 IFTA Gala Television Awards, which is sponsored by Gala Retail, and takes place at the Double Tree Hotel in Dublin on Friday, 7th October 2016.
The Irish Film and Television Academy is delighted to announce the shortlist of nominees in 23 strongly contested TV categories for the IFTA Gala Television Awards from entertainment, comedy, Soap and Performance to factual, current affairs and news across all of the Irish broadcasters RTÉ One, RTÉ Two, TV3, 3e, TG4, Sky, UTV and BBC Northern Ireland. The Nominations have been shortlisted by Members of the Irish Academy along with Irish and international Jury panels of industry experts.
Academy CEO, Aine Moriarty stated that: “This year’s line up shows superb talent across a wealth of vibrant programmes produced by Irish professionals who are consistently delivering high quality TV programmes and new ideas to audiences both in Ireland and internationally year on year. The Academy is proud to showcase this great Irish-made television and acknowledge the hard work, creativity and spirit that goes into producing hundreds of hours of TV production each year.”
From entertainment to reality and from comedy to poignant and informative documentaries along with insightful news and current affairs, the nominated programmes this year show that Irish audiences have had a diverse choice of top-notch Telly to watch.
In Entertainment, Baz Ashmawy is trying new ways to kill Nancy in 50 Ways to Kill Your Mammy which is shortlisted alongside the unique musical talent that is The Imelda May Show, Brendan O’Connor’s Cutting Edge has cut its way into the shortlist and TV3’s flagship evening programme The Seven O’Clock Show has earned its nod for its eclectic mix and style of entertainment.
IFTA’s Comedy Award is now in its second year and has a very funny bunch of Irish talents in the mix who have delivered the best of comedy this year and made the nation ‘laugh out loud’ on their sofas and they include the renowned Mrs Brown’s Boys nominated alongside the hilarious Bridget and Eamon which is the Republic of Telly’s spin-off run-away success; also nominated in this category is, Apres Match Election ’82 (the Apres Match team are also nominated in Sports) and The Rubberbandits’ Guide to 1916 which see the grocery-shop bag heads give their riveting take on 1916.
Reality programmes have strong contenders keeping it real this year with Coco’s First Dates Ireland and VIP’s Operation Transformation who between them got the nation out dating, walking and eating healthy; Loosehorse’s Rugby’s Wheelchair Challenge follows four Irish rugby internationals travelling from Dublin to Limerick – in wheelchairs, and Motive Television’sToughest Place to Be which follows Irish workers re-locating to some of the toughest work environments in the world.
Programmes commemorating the 1916 centenary are well represented, with The State Commemoration, 1916 The Irish Rebellion, Centenary, Children of the Revolution, Rubberbandits, and 1916 Challenge all nominated across various award categories.
In the Soap & Continuing Drama Award category RTE’s Fair City, which recently celebrated its 4000 episode is nominated alongside TG4’s Ros na Run which celebrated its 21st birthday this year bringing the Irish language soap to audiences for the past 21 years. TV3’s new kid on the block Red Rock now in its second year, completes the trio of Irish Soap all vying for the accolade of Ireland’s Best TV Soap. Each of the soaps havs multiple contenders across all of the craft and performance categories also.
The stand-out Female Performance in a Soap or Comedy sees Aisling O’Neill (Fair City) deliver a stellar performance as her character Carol in Fair City and also Jane McGrath as rule abiding Garda Officer Sharon Cleere in TV3’s Red Rock alongside Andrea Irvine who plays the hard working Garda Sargent Angela Tyrell; and Sharon Horgan receives a nomination for her comedic performance in Catastrophe airing on Channel 4 and Jennifer Zamparelli as the chain-smoking and mischievous 80’s mammy in RTE’s comedy hit Bridget and Eamon.
Male Performance in a Soap or Comedy sees the hilariously funny Brendan O Carroll as everyone’s favourite mammy inMrs. Brown’s Boys; Sean Mahon’s villainous performance as Garda Brian McGonigle in Red Rock alongside Patrick Ryan’sperformance as the constantly trouble-entangled Garda Paudge Brennan, who are all nominated with Karl Shiels who delivers a poignant performance as Robbie Quinn in Ireland’s longest running soap Fair City. This category also sees The Hardy Buck’s Chris Tordoff receive his first nomination for his performance as Francis ‘The Viper’ Higgins in the mockumentary small-town comedy.
Among the very competitive categories is Documentary Series which sees Coco Television deliver its landmark series, 1916 The Irish Rebellion which was narrated by Liam Neeson, examines the Rising and subsequent events that led to an independent Irish State; Tile Films’ Bas na Saoirse explores Irish patriots who were banished to Australia as punishment for their crimes; Independent Pictures’ Crumlin and RTE’s The Joy are observational documentaries with unprecedented access following the daily lives at these Irish institutions.
In the Best Single Documentary category, which is presented in association with BAI, the nominees are Joe Duffy’sChildren of the Revolution, a very moving and informative doc based on his best-selling book; also nominated this year is David McWilliams’ Ireland’s Great Wealth Divide which graphically reveals to the nation just who owns the bulk of Ireland’s wealth; I Am Immigrant which explores what it means to be Irish, John Connor’s honest and heart-felt I Am Traveller, andThe Story of Yes, marking the first anniversary of the same sex referendum.
In a year of terror attacks, Brexit, a General Election, Apple and NAMA, Irish news and current affairs broadcasting is excelling – the News category sees the best of News coverage in the running for and Award including BBC Newsline: Brexit Special; RTE Six One News: Paris Terror Attacks; Nuacht TG4 Vóta 2016; TV3 News: Brexit along with UTV Ireland Live Brexit Special are in contention.
Current Affairs nominees include BBC NI’s Spotlight: Selling Northern Ireland; Claire Byrne Live – Leaders Debate,along with Vincent Browne’s The People’s Debate; and RTE’s Investigates Standards in Public Office.
In the Factual category, broadcaster John Creedon explores the west coast in Creedon’s Wild Atlantic Way; VIP’s Daniell and Majella’s B&B Road Trip follows Daniel O’Donnell and his wife Majella on their road trip through Ireland; Ear to the Ground, now in it’s 16th season, explores rural, countryside and environmental issues, and The Guards takes a frontline look at policing in Dublin city centre.
The nominees in the Specialist Factual category newly introduced last year specifically for arts, religion, history, natural history and science, are A Fanatic Heart: Bob Geldof on WB Yeats, Bypassed, Crainn na hEireann, and Wild Cities – Galway.
Nominated in the Animation category this year is Boulder’s Danger Mouse, Wigglywoo’s The Day Henry Met, Sixteen South’s Lily’s Driftwood Bay, and Brown Bag Films series Peter Rabbit; the Irish animation industry is going through a golden age – currently employing over 1600 people, with Irish studios producing award-winning shows that are broadcast all over the world.
In the Children’s category, RTE’s 1916 Challenge is nominated alongside Tyrone’s My Life Champion of the World for CBBC, GMarsh’s Out and About, and Magamedia’s teen drama Eipic.
It wasn’t all World Cup this year, as Ireland’s love of sports is well reflected in this year’s Sport nominees which include Looshorse’s All Day Ireland; along with Apres Match of the Day; Wildfire’s Hidden Ireland: Rugby and Concussion and Strike Films Road to Rio.
The Live Event nominees this year predominantly focus on the centenary celebrations, with RTE’s coverage of the State Commemoration of the 1916 Rising nominated alongside Centenary; Tyrone’s Laochra 1916 GAA Commemoration and Independent’s Big Week on the Farm for RTE.
TG4 celebrates 20 years in October, and Irish Language programming is well represented especially across Irish drama Abu’s An Klondike, Eipic, and Ros Na Run are all nominated alongside Gifted Empire’s Fleadh TV.
Documentaries chronicling Irish life are a theme in the Director Television category. Darragh Byrne’s My Homeless Family,Gerry Hogan’s Ireland’s Great Wealth Divide, Máire Kearney’s Life Before the Rising, and Gerry Nelson’s Wild Cities – Dublin.
The Nominees of the Writing for Soaps and Comedy shows are Sharon Horgan (Catastrophe), Brendan O’Carroll (Mrs Brown’s Boys) Jason Butler, Jennifer Zamparelli and Bernard O’Shea (Bridget and Eamon) and Paul Walker (Red Rock); In Directing for Soap or Comedy – Lisa Mulcahy and Diarmuid Goggins are both nominated for their work directing Red Rock, Jason Butler is nominated for Bridget and Eamon and Louise Ní Fhiannachta for Eipic.
For Camera Television, Colm Hogan (1916 The Irish Rebellion), Paddy Jordan (Death of a Son – The Killing of Michael Dwyer), Alistair Neely (Voices ’16) and Michael O’Donovan These Walls can Talk; Editing Television – Jamie Fitzpatrick(Wild Cities – Galway), Derek Holland (A Fanatic Heart: Geldof on Yeats), Iseult Howlett (I Am Immigrant) and Una Ní Dhonghaile (Invisible Man); For Sound Television – 1916 The Irish Rebellion (John Brenna, Garret Farrell and Michelle Fingleton), Danger Mouse (Sol O’Carroll, Dominic Lawrence and Andrew Kirwan), Deoch an Dorais (John Brennan, Dean Jones and Colm O’Rourke) and Hup (Stephen McLoughlin).
A list of all of the nominees.
Apres Match presents Election ’82
Bridget & Eamon
Mrs Brown’s Boys
The Rubberbandits’ Guide to 1916
BBC NI Spotlight: Selling Northern Ireland
Claire Byrne Live – Leaders Debate
The People’s Debate
RTE Investigates Standards in Public Office
1916 The Irish Rebellion
Bas Na Saoirse
Children of the Revolution
I Am Immigrant
I Am Traveller
Ireland’s Great Wealth Divide
The Story of Yes
50 Ways to Kill Your Mammy
Brendan O’Connor’s Cutting Edge
The Imelda May Show
The Seven O’Clock Show
Creedon’s Wild Atlantic Way
Daniel and Majella’s B&B Road Trip
Ear to the Ground
Big Week on the Farm
Laochra 1916 GAA Commemoration
The State Commemoration of the 1916 Rising
BBC Newsline: Brexit Special
RTE Six One News – Paris Terror Attacks
TV3 News Special – Brexit
UTV Ireland Live News @ 5:30 – Brexit Special
Reality & Constructed Factual
First Dates Ireland
Rugby’s Wheelchair Challenge
Toughest Place to Be
A Fanatic Heart: Bob Geldof on WB Yeats
Crainn na hEireann
Wild Cities – Galway
All Ireland Day
Apres Match of the Day
Hidden Ireland: rugby and Concussion
Road to Rio
Ros na Run
Sean Mahon – Red Rock
Brendan O Carroll – Mrs. Brown’s Boys
Patrick Ryan – Red Rock
Karl Shiels – Fair City
Chris Tordoff – Hardy Bucks
Sharon Horgan – Catastrophe
Andrea Irvine – Red Rock
Jane McGrath – Red Rock
Aisling O’Neill – Fair City
Jennifer Zamparelli – Bridget and Eamon
Animation – Children’s & Young People’s
The Day Henry Met
Lily’s Driftwood Bay
Peter Rabbit: The Tale Of The Unexpected Discovery
Children’s & Young People’s – Live Action
My Life Champion of the World
Out and About
Ros na Run
Jason Butler – Bridget and Eamon
Diarmuid Goggins – Red Rock
Lisa Mulcahy – Red Rock
Louise Ní Fhiannachta – Eipic
Writer – Soap /Comedy
Jason Butler, Jennifer Zamparelli, Bernard O’Shea – Bridget and Eamon
Sharon Horgan – Catastrophe
Brendan O’Carroll – Mrs Browns Boys
Paul Walker – Red Rock
Colm Hogan – 1916 The Irish Rebellion
Paddy Jordan – Death of a Son – The Killing of Michael Dwyer
The Filmbase and RTÉ-funded short film, Love is a Sting, is up for an IFTA Award for Best Short Film this coming Saturday 9th of April. Vincent Gallagher’s film tells the story of a struggling children’s book writer named Harold Finch. At his lowest point, Harold gains an unexpected houseguest in the form of Anabel- an ageing, hyper-intelligent mosquito. Anabel has literally been the fly on the wall throughout history but has never managed to communicate with a human being. She will attempt to do so now even if it kills her, and will teach Harold that sometimes the smallest voice can make the biggest noise.
Love is a Sting is written by Academy Award winner Benjamin Cleary, narrated by Irish actor Ciarán Hinds and stars Sean T. Ó’Meallaigh.
The film, which is a mix of live action and animation, began its festival run last October and has already won numerous awards, including Best Short Film at both the Clones Film Festival and the Waterford Film Festival, along with the Audience Award at the Richard Harris International Film Festival.
In November, Love is a Sting won the Grand Prix Irish Short at the 60th Cork Film Festival, putting it on the longlist for the Academy Awards in 2017. “We are absolutely delighted with the response our film has gotten so far”, says producer Ian Hunt Duffy, “Getting nominated for an IFTA was an honour. Everyone did an incredible job on Love is a Sting so it’s great to see all of their hard work being recognised.”
Love is a Sting will have its North American Premiere on April 9th at the Cleveland International Film Festival, followed by screenings at the Newport Beach Film Festival and Belfast Film Festival later this month.
For more information, visit www.facebook.com/loveisasting.
Winners of the 12th IFTA Awards for Film and Drama were announced at a ceremony in Dublin last night.
Hosted by actress and television presenter, Caroline Morahan, the Awards Ceremony will be broadcast on TV3 on Monday, June 1st.
This year’s winner for Best Film went to Song of the Sea, which goes on release in Irish cinemas on 10th July. Also among the awards was Jim Sheridan, who received the Lifetime Achievement Award.
FULL IFTA 2015 WINNERS’ LIST:
Best Film: Song of the Sea
Best Director Film: Lenny Abrahamson for Frank
Best Script Film: Terry McMahon for Patrick’s Day
Irish Film Board Rising Star: Sarah Greene
Best Lead Actor Film: Moe Dunford for Patrick’s Day
Best Lead Actress Film: Deirdre O’Kane for Noble
Best Supporting Actor Film: Domhnall Gleeson for Frank
Best Supporting Actress Film: Sarah Greene
George Morrison Feature Documentary: In A House That Ceased To Be
Best Animation Short: Somewhere Down The Line
Best Short Film: Rockmount
Best Drama in association with BAI: Love/Hate 5
Best Director Drama: Ciaran Donnelly for Vikings
Best Script Drama: Stuart Carolan for Love/Hate
Best Lead Actor Drama: Aidan Gillen for Charlie
Best Lead Actress Drama: Charlie Murphy for Love/Hate
Best Supporting Actor Drama: Stephen Rea for The Honourable Woman
Best Supporting Actress Drama: Aisling Franciosi for The Fall
Best Director of Photography: James Mather for Frank
Best Costume Design: Lorna Marie Mugan for Peaky Blinders
Best Editing: Emer Reynolds for One Million Dubliners
Best Make-Up and Hair sponsored by M.A.C.: Vikings
Best Original Score: Stephen McKeon for Queen and Country
Best Production Design: John Paul Kelly for The Theory of Everything
Best Sound: Patrick’s Day
Best International Film: Boyhood
Best International Actor: Eddie Redmayne for The Theory of Everything
Best International Actress: Julianne Moore for Still Alice
The Irish Film and Television Academy have announced the shortlist of nominees in 40 strongly contested categories for the 11th annual Irish Film and Television Awards, which takes place on Saturday 5th April at the DoubleTree at Hilton Burlington Road and broadcast primetime on RTÉ ONE (reaching 1.24 Million viewers last year).
Nominations are announced in categories across film and television, celebrating the highest standard of Irish talent over the past twelve months. All IFTA’s categories have been shortlisted by Members of the Irish Film & Television Academy alongside a select Jury panel of industry experts from around the world. IFTA received 311 titles submitted for consideration in the 2013 Awards.
Academy CEO, Aine Moriarty stated that: “This year’s Nominations showcase to the world what Ireland’s small but excellent film and television community has to offer. Their hard work over the last 12 months has delivered world-class standards with some of the most diverse and engaging Irish films, dramas and documentaries along with great entertainment and factual programmes. We look forward to acknowledging and celebrating the great work of the home industry on the Ceremony night ahead”.
The feature films nominated for Best Film are the visual horror feast of Byzantium; the blackly comic priestly dilemma of Calvary; the intimate and happy-go-lucky Run & Jump; thehaunting, poetic and uplifting drama The Sea; and comedy hurdles of the Irish groom-to-be in The Stag; Four of the five best films also get nominations for Best Script; John Banville for The Sea; Ailbhe Keogan Run & Jump; John Michael McDonagh for Calvary and the duo of John Butler & Peter McDonald for The Stag.
Ruiri Robinson is nominated for Director Film for his debut Sci-fi feature film The Last Days on Mars alongside John Butler, Neil Jordan and John Michael McDonagh.
In the Actor in a Leading Role Film category, Brendan Gleeson is nominated for Calvary alongside Domhnall Gleeson’s performance in the Richard Curtis film About Time; as is Ciarán Hinds shortlisted for his skillful turn in The Sea and The Stag’s leading-man performance by Andrew Scott.
Antonia Campbell-Hughes is in good company within Actress in a Leading Role Film with her 3096 Days performance alongside Saoirse Ronan’s turn in Byzantium; Both are joined by new acting talents Jane McGrath who performs in the Irish boy-racer film Black Ice and Kelly Thornton for her achievement in the lively family saga of Life’s a Breeze.
Nominee Actors in Supporting Roles in Film are Colin Farrell for Saving Mr Banks, Michael Fassbender for Twelve year’s a Slave; Edward MacLiam for Run & Jump and Peter McDonald who is nominated for The Stag.
Sinead Cusack is nominated for Supporting Actress in Film for The Sea alonside Fionnula Flannigan for Life’s a Breeze; Amy Huberman for The Stag and Orla O’Rourke for her performance in Calvary.
Television Drama being produced across Ireland north and south, continues to enthral both Irish and International audiences with compelling scripts, great direction and performances all round. Northern Irish based police investigations drama The Fall is nominated alongside the epic fantasy Game of Thrones and the new historical action drama Vikings which is shot in Co Wicklow. Dublin based Dramas also feature strongly with the period-set crime investigation series Quirke being nominated as well as the gritty urban drama Love/Hate.
Actor Lead role in Television sees Gabriel Byrne being nominated for his performance in Quirke, Jamie Dornan shortlisted for the Fall, Chris O’Dowd for Moone Boy, and Tom Vaughan Lawlor for Love/Hate.
Deirdre O’Kane has been shortlisted for her role as Mrs Moone in Moone Boy. Eva Birthistle’s performance in Amber has ensured her nomination alongside Love/Hate’s Mary Murray andCharlie Murphy.
Allen Leech is shortlisted for his role as Tom in Downton Abbey in the supporting Actor Television category along with Liam Cunningham and Aidan Gillen for Game of Thrones as isPeter Coonan for his performance in Love/Hate this series. Victoria Smurfit is nominated for Dracula alongside Michelle Fairley for Game of Thrones; Elaine Cassidy for the Paradise and Coilfhionn Dunne of Love/Hate.
The TV Entertainment category this year shortlists very popular audience programmes that are entertaining and engaging the nation; Irish Pictorial Weekly and Mrs Brown Boys are nominated alongside Moone Boy and The Late late Show’s episode which featured Majella O’Donnell’s brave charity act.
A great mix and diverse programmes have come through in the single TV Documentary category with Danny Boy: The Ballad that Bewitched the World receiving its nomination alongside the Belvedere College The Scholarship – Class of 2018; Also nominated is The Disappeared which tells the story of those killed and secretely burried in Northern Ireland and shortlisted too is Donal Walsh – My Story documentary about the brave young Kerryman.
In Current Affairs/ News, Tonight with Vincent Browne’s programme on the IBRC debate is nominated alongside RTE’s Breach of Trust programme exposing the créche industry in Ireland as is their Inside Irish Nationwide programme with Richard Curran and BBC Northern Ireland’s Spotlight: Housing – Whatever It Takes about corruption within the Housing Executive in NI.
The Irish Film & Television Awards Ceremony will showcase the best of Ireland’s creative talent both in front and behind the scenes, and will acknowledge Irish excellence and achievements. The ceremony will welcome a host of film stars, TV personalities, directors, producers and distinguished guests to celebrate the undisputed talent that exists within the film and television industries in Ireland.
The full list of IFTA nominees is below.
11th Annual Irish Film & Television Awards
Byzantium (Alan Moloney, Stephen Woolley, Parallel Films, Number 9 Films)
IFTA presented an exclusive screening of new Irish feature The O’Briens in September at Dublin’s Savoy Cinema. James Phelan was there to catch a first look at Richard Waters’ film, shot entirely in Galway on a shoestring budget and financed independently by the film’s producers.
DIR: Richard Waters • PRO: Slaine Kelly, Emmett Hughes, Richard Kearney, Ciara Byrne, Alison Scarff • ED: Richard Waters • DOP: David Laird • Music: Nicky Royston • CAST: Liam McMahon , Slaine Kelly. Emmett Hughes, Tommy O’Neill, Kellie Blaise, Amber Jean Rowan, Paddy C. Courtney, Lochlainn O Mearain
We’ve all become accustomed and almost immune to Irish low-budget features because of an overwhelming sameness in both approach and subject matter. Sci-fi and horror are attempted regularly, often without adequate resources and with wildly varying results. Less common is the rom-com, but still a few are made on a shoestring per year. Rarest of all perhaps is the family drama which is hardly ever tackled at all – let alone with next to no budget.
That’s the situation that actors turned producers Slaine Kelly and Emmett Hughes found themselves in when promised funding fell through at the last minute. With a crew and cast assembled on location in Galway, the easy decision would have been to pull the plug. Instead, they pulled the trigger and went ahead and shot.
The gamble has already paid dividends with the film scooping the Outstanding Filmmaking Achievement Award at the Newport Beach Film Festival in California, where the film also received a second screening due to audience demand.
What really sets The O Briens apart though is how well it looks. Usually any Irish film with a bare bones budget employs the ‘Festen’ approach – all rough handheld and heavy pixallated digital footage. This film eschews that in favour of a composed and colourful aesthetic that miraculously borders on glossy at times.
It undoubtedly helps that a ridiculously photogenic cast depict the central family. Summoned home from around the globe, this clan gathering is more like a model convention. Seriously, this must be the most attractive Irish family since the Corrs. Crucially though, the purely surface appeal of the players is backed up with some real talent. There is an especially luminous turn from Kellie Blaise that could well be a star-making role if seen by enough people. Lochlainn O Mearain is equally excellent as a sexually frustrated husband striving to save his business and his marriage in the same weekend.
The multi-tasking creative duo of Kelly and Hughes also wrote the script so naturally enough, they crafted some meaty roles for themselves. Kelly is too impossibly pretty to ever be the dowdy wife but she displays a deft range as the put upon Una. It’s a graceful delicate performance that anchors the entire film but generously allows the spotlight to shine on the rest of the ensemble. Meanwhile, Hughes bravely takes on a character that is initially difficult to warm to but his snarky attitude continually provides big laughs as well as the emotional climax of the film.
Elsewhere, the film has fun with some tropes. The ubiquitous Paddy Courtney pops up as the local comic relief but the filmmakers work a wonderfully clever variation on his ubiquity by having him perform every role that should have gone to an extra. It’s a witty solution to a potential production problem. Likewise, director Richard Waters does an excellent job of concealing the lack of resources with clever staging and colourful compositions.
Like the family itself, the film has some issues. The script still contains the odd clunky line, albeit offset by some smashing exchanges and memorable quips. While the sound side of the film appears to have a few gremlins that have never been fully ironed out.
Overall, The O Briens is a bright and riotous ride emitting charm and humour in abundance. If ever a film is going to contribute to tourism, it’s a film like this. Without ever pushing the blarney button, it conjures a compelling and relevant image of the country while still retaining a real romanticism about living in the West of Ireland. This is a warm, vibrant and handsome drama that invites and can live with comparisons with movies like The Family Stone’ or even The Big Chill.
Having created a considerable something from close to nothing, the makers of this film deserve a chance with some real budget and some proper backing.
DIR/WRI: Gerard Barrett • PRO: Gerard Barrett • DOP: Ian D. Murphy • ED: Gerard Barrett • CAST: Keith Byrne, Muiris Crowley, Corina Gough, Kevin McCormack
There’s a part of Ireland still untouched by the 21st Century, where the Celtic Tiger’s roar was only a distant echo. So Gerard Barrett’s feature debut Pilgrim Hill shows us. We follow the daily life of rural farmer Jimmy (Joe Mullins) as he goes about his pastoral chores – if it weren’t for the Oreos stacked on the local shop’s shelves or his unemployed young friend Tommy’s (Muiris Crowley) shiny Beamer, Pilgrim Hill could almost be set in the 1950s.
Eschewing the high drama of John B. Keane’s The Field, Barrett’s story takes a more real and reserved approach, as it slowly but steadily reveals the wearying effect the world takes of Jimmy. He cares for his cows like family, even though in his own words they are barely pets. He looks after his stroke-addled father – never seen but ever present – but wishes he didn’t have to. Even his rare trip to the pub is a miserable one; a single pint sipped alone so as not to go over the legal limit. The only real energy in Jimmy’s life comes from the rhythmic pulsing of the milking machine; the rest is silence.
The film is punctuated by a series of almost-to-camera interviews with Jimmy, whose shyly averted gaze says as much as his words. These are great insights into the character, who has never truly bloomed as a person, and they allow Mullins to really get into Jimmy’s skin, but one can’t help but wish there was a more inventive way Barrett might have opened up this character to us.
The steady pacing of the story is accompanied by tidy, withdrawn framing that keenly demonstrates the isolation of the character, marred by some unfortunate lapses of focal depth. Jimmy’s house is littered with items from the life he might have lived – a Rod Stewart mug and a pair of polka-dot purple underwear reveal a side to the man that we will never hear from his lips.
As life takes increasingly cruel tolls on Jimmy, Barrett’s film becomes a study of how much a man can take before he breaks down and cries. Does healing come with tears?
Unambitious but well executed, Barrett reveals himself a filmmaker to keep an eye on, while Mullins, a sometime theatre actor with no prior features under his belt, carries the weight of the film with a sincere, world-weary performance, taut with closeted emotion.
Pilgrim Hill is an honest portrayal of a fragment of Ireland we all too eagerly like to pretend we have left behind us.