Launch of Screen Ireland’s 2020 Slate of 40 Film, TV and Animation Productions

Screen Ireland today revealed their slate of over 40 productions coming to the international market this year, at a briefing held in Dublin today.  The slate includes the first TV shows that Screen Ireland has supported, after funding for TV drama was announced last year. The agency also outlined their key priorities for the year.

The 2020 slate of productions features a number of high-end episodic TV drama productions, a new area of investment for Screen Ireland. In a bid to help build and support the TV drama sector, the agency aims to increase funding for TV drama in 2020 in collaboration with Irish broadcast partners at home – RTÉ, TG4 and Virgin Media – and international partners and platforms.

Screen Ireland funded productions coming to screens in 2020 feature a wide number of culturally relevant stories and exciting, entertaining projects. They include the highly anticipated TV series Normal People, the Lenny Abrahamson-directed adaptation of Sally Rooney’s bestselling novel of the same name, from Element Pictures and the South Westerlies from Deadpan Pictures.

The global success story of the Irish animation industry continues in 2020 with Cartoon Saloon’s Wolfwalkers, an animated feature-length film from Oscar-nominated director Tomm Moore and Oops 2 Back in the Deep End set for release.  Fresh from the Sundance Film Festival last weekend, feature film Herself starring Irish actor and screenwriter Clare Dunne is a redemptive story of the Irish housing crisis and domestic abuse. These human-led stories remain at the heart of Screen Ireland’s slate, with a range of documentary touching on issues relevant to Irish audiences – such as The 8th to Songs From While I’m Away, the first feature-length documentary about Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott.

In 2019, 37% of all projects across film, TV drama, documentary, animation and shorts produced with funding from Screen Ireland had female directors attached to them and 43% of all projects funded had female writers attached. While full gender equality is yet to be achieved, the figures represent a consistent improvement up from 10% and 27% respectively in 2015, when Screen Ireland first announced its six-point plan on gender equality.

The development of the film and television production activity and jobs across regional Ireland is also a key driver for Screen Ireland. Many of the film and TV productions in Screen Ireland’s 2020 slate were produced or filmed on location in regional areas, including, amongst others: animated feature film OoopsBack In The Deep End which is produced in Galway; Wild Mountain Thyme, filmed in Mayo; The Winter Lake, filmed in Sligo and Leitrim; and Death of a Ladies’ Man, filmed in Galway.

International productions filming in Ireland include Foundation, an Apple Original drama series that chronicles the epic saga of The Foundation, a band of exiles who discover that the only way to save the Galactic Empire from destruction is to defy it. The series is based on Isaac Asimov’s novel series of the same name.

The series is the largest production ever to film on location in Ireland, creating over 500 production jobs.  Several training initiatives are underway for new entrants into the industry in the Limerick region, with over 40 skills development participants on the show. Irish talent is represented across the production, including award winning costume designer Eimer Ní Mhaoldomhnaigh, who leads a large costume department.

Valhalla, a Netflix production, is also set to film in Ashford Studios in Wicklow.

Following the trade mission to Los Angeles with the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD last year, Screen Ireland has focused on the need to develop further studio infrastructure to drive inward production activity. The agency welcomes the recent expansions of Ardmore & Troy Studios and further plans for Ashford, with other opportunities also being explored.  To strengthen relationships in the US, as previously announced Screen Ireland will be appointing a representative based in Los Angeles later this year.

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Review of Irish Film @ Cork Film Festival 2019: Screen Ireland World Premiere Shorts

 

Loretta Goff was at the Cork Film Festival’s screening of short films produced under Fís Éireann/Screen Ireland’s Focus Shorts and Real Shorts schemes.

Ten short films produced under Fís Éireann/Screen Ireland’s Focus Shorts and Real Shorts schemes had their world premiere at the 64th Cork Film Festival on the 16th of November. Mags O’Sullivan of Screen Ireland introduced the programme of shorts by noting that 60% of them were directed by women and that 50% had female screenwriters, highlighting Screen Ireland’s commitment to diversity and gender equality, which was evident across these shorts. The films ranged in their mode of expression and style—encompassing animation, documentary and live-action—but all engaged with types of community and identity, making for interesting comparisons and showing off Irish talent.

Lorraine Lordan’s A Cat Called Jam opened the programme with the humorous tale of a cat who sees himself as a dog and just wants to be part of the pack. Despite reactions suggesting he doesn’t quite fit in, Jam is persistent in his mission, lightheartedly singing about meat and chasing his tale like the other dogs. A beautifully drawn and well-crafted animation, this short has an uplifting message about finding the place you belong for yourself and being who you want to be. This message carried across several of the other films, with A Cat Called Jam offering an excellent start to the group.

The second film of the selection, Bryony Dunne’s Above the Law, explored communities in transit, cleverly drawing comparisons between paths of migratory birds and the, usually fraught, journeys of refugees and migrants. While the birds move freely, as they wish, between locations, closely examined only by birdwatchers, the refugees are instead seen by surveillance cameras patrolling borders, or those who must be ready to rescue them from overflowing boats. Moving between Cairo, Lesvos and Donegal, with narration from both migrants and those looking out for them, the film lets us literally fly along with the birds (with cameras attached) as we are grounded by the words spoken by these individuals. Above the Law faces difficult realities in a poetic and hopeful way, drawing to a close with a Syrian refugee in Ireland commenting that his “Irish passport is now [his] wings”.

A Better You, written and directed by Eamonn Murphy, brings us to a well-designed modern steampunk world with the advanced technology of programmable carbon clones alongside computers that are cranked to scroll through pages as you would archival material. In this setting, a shy man, Douglas (Seán T. Ó Meallaigh) finally decides to purchase a “better version” of himself to go on a date with a girl he likes. Ó Meallaigh’s performance and the production design are both very strong and, after some light-hearted scenes setting up the clone, we are left with a similar message to that in A Cat Called Jam—that it is best to be yourself.

Ruari Robinson’s Corporate Monster takes a turn toward horror as an overworked and recently laid-off man in NYC takes some untested pills to help with his exhaustion. These further unravel him, causing him to see monsters all around him who pose as humans—from policemen to his former boss. Are the pills making him unstable, causing him to go on a rampage, or are they exposing the truth of the creatures living amongst us? The fast-paced Corporate Monster keeps you guessing with its impressive looking creatures, and makes you consider the perils of losing oneself in work and greed. It also offers some well-placed political commentary as the first appearances of these creatures are surrounding Trump on the stage during a televised speech.

Welcome to a Bright White Limbo, directed by Cara Holmes, documents the creative process of dancer and choreographer of Oona Doherty. As Doherty explains that she had moved to Belfast from London, didn’t feel she fit in, and found a way to express herself through movement, we see her practicing her choreography in the street of a housing estate, as well as in an auditorium. This movement embodies not only herself, but the local identity. Welcome to a Bright White Limbo is artistically shot, capturing the arresting and emotive movements of Doherty, and offering insight into the thoughtful construction of her award-winning show, Hope Hunt.

In Claire Byrne’s Sister This, a simple phone conversation between two sisters reveals a depth of emotion and shines a light on the struggle to get by, and what is sometimes sacrificed to do it. With one sister abroad for work, and the other taking care of her son, they argue over the mother missing the boy’s birthday and about the safety of her line of work. Charlie Bailey and Jordanne Jones deliver strong performances as the sisters, packing this short with an emotional punch.

Based on Ryan’s essay “The Fear of Winning”, Iseult Howlett’s cleverly named The Grass Ceiling is a short documentary in which three of Ireland successful female athletes—Rianna Jarrett, Elise O’Byrne White and Ryan herself—relate what sport means to them. Through this a portrait is spun of powerful, inspiring women who resist constrictive and conservative gender expectations. Finding their place and their confidence through their athleticism, these women serve as strong role models. The Grass Ceiling rightfully showcases their talents and perspectives, which are often overlooked in favour of the male athletes who are more frequently in the spotlight, and is itself a powerful and inspiring film.

Sophia Tamburrini’s Maya stars Pat Shortt as Ken, who lives happily connected to a machine that simulates his reality using his memories. However, as his payments for this run out, he will soon be confronted by reality. Maya sensitively explores loss and what grief can do to a person—replaying memories and subtly overwriting them through time until we are faced with a new reality. Tamburrini smartly uses elements of sci-fi in this film as a way to confront what are equally natural processes. 

Kalchalka, directed by Gar O’Rourke, documents “the world’s most hardcore gym”—Kiev’s outdoor Soviet scrap metal gym, offering a snapshot of the day-to-day running of this unique place and the variety of individuals that use it. Well put-together shots tell the story of this space as its caretaker brings us through it, providing several humorous moments. The gym equipment and construction is interesting in itself, but the glimpses we are given of the characters that populate it leave an even bigger impression. Personalities are well-captured here, often simply through gesture.

Finally, rounding off the programme was Brendan Canty’s Cork-based Christy, which received quite a few cheers from the home crowd. This short follows a 16-year-old as he goes on a disappointing job interview and is brought back to good spirits by his friends. Showing off plenty of Cork charm, in a similar vein to The Young Offenders, the film deftly moved between heartfelt moments and humour, ending the Screen Ireland World Premiere Shorts with plenty of laughs.

 

The Screen Ireland World Premiere Shorts programme screened on 16th Nov 2019  as part of the Cork Film Festival (7 – 17 November 2019).

 

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Four Films Selected for the Next Stage of POV

POV Scheme

Screen Ireland has announced that four films have been selected to go forward into production from the POV scheme.  You Are Not My Mother, Knowl, It Is In Us All and Sunlight will be entering their next phase of production under this programme.

About POV

The aim of POV is to enable distinct Irish female voices with a passion to tell stories on the big screen through the development and production of feature films. Entries were open to live action fiction feature films that will be produced at the required budget level of €400,000.

Six projects were selected for an intensive development process which included mentorship, workshopping and story development. In this next phase, four projects, instead of the original three,  have been selected for production.

The four POV projects are: 

  • Knowl: written by Elisabeth Gooch (Nightbird, Finalist 2015 NYWIFT Writer’s Lab), directed by Lisa Mulcahy (‘The Legend of Longwood’), and produced by Ruth Carter (‘Damo and Ivor: The Movie’) for Blue Ink Films. Based on Sheridan Le Fanu’s Gothic thriller, Uncle Silas, Knowl is a period adaptation with a modern twist. Forced to fight her guardian for her inheritances — and her life — an orphaned heiress must embrace her family’s dark legacy to survive.
  • It Is In Us All: written and directed by Antonia Campbell-Hughes (‘Q4L (quest for love)’ – Screen Ireland Short Story) and produced by Conor Barry (‘Pilgrimage’) for Savage Productions. Hamish is a fast-living, successful media type from London. He has it all, yet he is deeply unsatisfied. After a near-fatal car crash, he is unable to shake off the mysterious pull of the boy racer who almost took his life.
  • Sunlight: written by Ailbhe Keogan (‘Take Me Swimming’ – Screen Ireland Focus Short), directed by Claire Dix (‘Take Me Swimming’) and produced by Roisín Geraghty (GAZE Film Festival) for Blinder Films. In this compassionate comedy, Leon, a recovering addict cares for Iver, his terminally ill sponsor with a bonded devotion. Leon interrupts Iver self-euthanizing with an exit-guide, Maria, in attendance. A betrayed Leon refuses to let his hero die until Iver sees the tribute show Leon has created in his honour.
  • You Are Not My Mother: written and directed by Kate Dolan (‘Catcalls’ – Screen Ireland Focus Short) and produced by Deirdre Levins (‘Nails’) for Fantastic Films. In a North Dublin house estate, Char’s mother goes missing. When she returns, Char is convinced something or someone has replaced her.

 

 

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Ireland & Luxembourg Launch Women-Focused Development Fund

Ireland & Luxembourg Launch Women-Focused Development Fund

Film Fund Luxembourg and Fís Éireann/Screen Ireland have just announced a new Co-Development Fund for Female Filmmakers at the Cannes International Film Festival.

The signature of this new Fund will also be marked by the presentation of the Luxembourg “Order of the Oak Crown” badge by Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, to James Hickey, Chief Executive of Screen Ireland,  for his efforts to foster cultural and audiovisual relations between the Irish and Luxembourgish film industry.

This dedicated Co-Development Fund aims to co-develop a range of new feature film projects written and/or directed by women. The fund will support the careers of female writers and directors during the crucial development stage of a project.  It aims to reduce gender disparity in the film industry and marketplace and improve female representation in the screen industry. The fund is also intended to encourage further co-production opportunities between Ireland and Luxembourg.

Commenting on the new fund James Hickey, Chief Executive, Fís Éireann/Screen Ireland said “This new development partnership with Luxembourg is part of a wide range of programmes that reflect our commitment to addressing the issue of gender inequality in Irish filmmaking and screen content, in particular the roles of writers and directors. Luxembourg is a long term co-production partner of Ireland and we are very excited to be launching a new co-development fund with them.”

“It is no secret that women in the film industry are underrepresented, also in Luxembourg. This incentive is specifically designed to tackle this issue. I am looking forward to this collaboration with our Irish friends and to seeing exciting projects from our two countries”, said Guy Daleiden, CEO of Film Fund Luxembourg.

This new co-development fund will contribute €40.000 per project. The total value of the funding available is €120.000 for the pilot year (to be continued for two years if both parties agree) and will be allocated on a 50-50 basis from both funding bodies.

Projects must have producers attached from Ireland and Luxembourg to allow them to access development funding in both countries.

The first call of projects will be launched in May 2019. A selection committee composed of representatives of Film Fund Luxembourg and Screen Ireland, who may consult international experts, will assess the submitted projects.

Successful co-productions between Ireland and Luxembourg include the recent hit Black ’47, and the academy award nominated films The Breadwinner and Song of the Sea to name a few.

For more information on how to apply visit: www.screenireland.ie and http://www.filmfund.lu/

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Irish Film Board to be Renamed as Screen Ireland

Heather Humphries 230x240-1

The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD [pictured] has announced her intention to put legislation in place to change the name of the  Irish Film Board to Screen Ireland.

Minister Humphreys said, “The Irish Film Board is our premier agency for promoting and supporting the audio visual sector. Its work extends far beyond the traditional realm of ‘film’ and encompasses the domestic and international TV sector, as well as our growing animation sector. The Irish audio visual sector has been going from strength to strength in recent years, and I believe there is huge capacity for growth. I want the agency tasked with expanding the sector further to have a name that easily communicates its responsibilities”.

 

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