The Irish Academy received a positive storm of responses yesterday when they announced the line-up of nominees for the upcoming 2017 awards ceremony, which will take place on Saturday April 8th in the Mansion House, Dublin.
With the ceremony just four weeks away, we are kicking off our coverage by taking a look at the Best Film nominations, showcasing the highest standards of feature filmmaking in this country at a time when Irish cinema continues to be celebrated on the international stage.
Of the six titles nominated, we see three debut features from Irish talents Peter Foott for ‘The Young Offenders’, Darren Thornton for ‘A Date for Mad Mary’ and Richie Smyth for ‘The Siege of Jadotville’, while Juanita Wilson’s nomination comes for her second feature project, ‘Tomato Red’.
Nominated projects with more seasoned directors are Jim Sheridan’s ‘The Secret Scripture’ and Whit Stilman’s ‘Love & Friendship’, both of which were filmed in Ireland and continued to nurture our status as a prime filming location for high quality productions.
Further attesting to the quality of the film nominees this year is every single project with a nomination for Best Scriptwriter or Best Director also being nominated for Best Film.
A Date for Mad Mary
Juliette Bonass and Ed Guiney produce this project for Element Pictures, which has been widely praised since for its strong female-driven narrative since receiving the award for Best Film at the Galway Film Fleadh, which it shared with ‘The Young Offenders’.
Seána Kerslake also received the Ray Binhgam New Talent Award at the Galway Film Fleadh for her leading performance as ‘mad’ Mary McArdle, whose determination to find a date for her friend’s wedding is made difficult by her recent stint in prison.
Seána Kerslake, Best Leading Actress in Film Nominee:
“It was brilliant. I’m so thankful that I got to play such a well-rounded female; she’s so complex and she’s got so much going on. It was actually difficult for me to carry Mary around with me because she is very lonely and she is very angry.”
IFTN talks to 'A Date For Mad Mary' Actresses Seána Kerslake & Charleigh Bailey
Love & Friendship
Writer/director Whit Stilman’s standout period comedy has breathed a new cinematic life into Jane Austen’s ‘Lady Susan’ in the form of Kate Beckinsale, the scandalous and daring leading lady. Produced by Katie Holly of Blinder Films and Lauranne Bourrachot, the project topped the US speciality box office in May 2016, the same week as Yorgos Lanthimos’ ‘The Lobster.’
Whit Stilman, Director:
“It was absolutely ideal. This is the best place I have ever shot a film, definitely the best crew I have ever worked with. Any project I could possibly shoot in Ireland in the future, I will definitely shoot them here.”
Read our full interview with Whit Stilman
The Siege of Jadotville
As one of the Irish Academy’s debut feature nominations, Richie Smyth’s daring in excavating the activities of Irish troops in the Congo in the 1960s is matched only by the bravery of the ignored troops themselves.
‘The Siege of Jadotville’ stars Irish talents Jamie Dornan (The Fall), Sam Keeley (This Must Be the Place), Jason O’Mara (One for the Money) and others. It is produced by Alan Maloney of Parallel Film Productions.
Kevin Brodbin, Best Scriptwriter Film Nominee:
“This was a rip-roaring story about the underdog that had a great universal sense to it. It’s not about our grandfathers' or great grandfathers' grudges; this was a thing all Irish people could be interested in because it’s a universal story. That’s what got me into it.”
Scriptwriter Kevin Brodbin on writing ‘The Siege of Jadotville’
Jason O’Mara, Best Supporting Actor in Film Nominee:
“There is a lot of passion behind it. Everyone got involved because they believed in it, and in the story, and also believed that these men deserved more recognition than they got. That was driving it all the way through, in the sense of passion and pride as well.”
IFTN talks to ‘The Siege of Jadotville’ Actors Jason O’Mara & Sam Keeley
The Secret Scripture
Jim Sheridan’s latest feature project starring Rooney Mara (Carol), Eric Bana (Munich) and Jack Reynor (Sing Street) filmed in Ireland from early 2015, and is an adaptation of the Sebastian Barry novel of the same name.
It is a Ferndale Films and Apollo Media project, produced by Noel Pearson, Rob Quigley and Jim Sheridan, and was one of three Irish titles which screened at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival.
Jim Sheridan, Best Director Film Nominee:
"It was so good to be back home to make this film. I loved bringing Sebastian Barry's moving novel to the big screen and I feel honoured for the freedom he gave me. Irish novels and stories are loved by people all over the world.”
Juanita Wilson’s second feature film follows on from her IFTA-winning debut ‘As If I Am Not There’, which earned her the award for Best Director in 2011. The writer/director’s latest project looks at drifter Sammy Barlach (Jake Weary) in a small American town, as he and his newfound companions face the forces of corruption and prejudice.
‘Tomato Red’ released to Irish cinemas just last week and is distributed in Ireland by Element Pictures Distribution. It is a Metropolitan Films International project, produced by Daniel Bekerman, James Flynn and Elizabeth Gill.
The Young Offenders
Peter Foott’s debut film continues to screen in Mahon Point Cork, six months after its original Irish release in September 2016. Graham Norton stated, “It captures everything that makes Ireland so special”, while is also grossed over €1M at the Irish box office.
It is produced by Peter Foott and Julie Ryan with funding from the Irish Film Board and is distributed in Ireland by Wildcard Distribution.
"It wasn't just funny, it was brilliant" - Carnaby International Sales & Distribution on 'The Young Offenders'
For a full list of #IFTA17 Nominees visit the Official IFTA Website