By David Hennessy
Irish film graduates who collected RTS (Royal Television Society) Awards for their student films in Dublin last month have moved forwarded for selection for the RTS finals in London in May where they will compete against students from all over Britain. Students from Dublin Institute of Technology and Ballyfermot College of Further Education took the prizes in fiction, factual and animation for films that explored a priest’s dilemma, the sacrifices of elite ballet dancers and a modern interpretation of the poem Lake Isle of Innisfree by WB Yeats.
Kevin Henry, who wrote and directed drama The Last Confession told The Irish World why he wanted to make a film about a priest’s conflict about saving a young mother’s life and his own liberty: “The whole basis for this story was the character of a young priest and their place in modern society. Priests have a very different status in Ireland than even 15 to 20 years ago. In some ways they are very isolated but yet they must do their best to engage with whatever parish they are placed in. Here we see a young priest and how he gets caught up in a criminal’s murder”
Kevin, from Castlebar in Mayo, graduated from DIT last Autumn, and adds: “It’s nice to get recognition for the film, we now know that at least someone liked it! It would be nice to compete for the award in London but we are happy to have gotten this far at least. Hopefully there will be plenty more films in the future, we’ll see what happens. I would love to direct again.”
Documentary Sur la Pointe displayed ballet’s beauty while interviews revealed the extreme hardships necessary to reach the top. This was a personal subject as director Kim Comiskey and editor Niamh O’Shaughnessy both possessing ballet backgrounds.
23-year-old Kim, from Rathmines in Dublin, told The Irish World: “I was always mesmerised by ballet dancers from a young age: Their passion, their pain, there is such a dark beauty in the dance form. I knew early on that I wanted to juxtapose the beauty of the dance form with the pressures it can have on both body and mind.
“I spent hours interviewing the participants and that’s where the genuine insight into their lives lies. It was really in the edit room where the story came together. I really wanted to create an interesting portrayal of their lives both visually and verbally. One of dancers even said they teared up watching the piece, it showed him such a different perspective on his own life. That is all that really matters to me at the end of the day, that I was able to touch their lives and hopefully the audience too.
“It feels great to create a visual piece like this and for it be recognised by the Royal Television Society. When you are in the height of it you become so wrapped up in your own work that it becomes unclear if your message will be communicated properly, so it is reassuring to receive the award along with some insightful feedback on the documentary.”
Editor Niamh from Malahide adds: “I love documentary because you can’t control what people can say or do, so you have that added level of excitement when editing the film. You really are constructing a story based on what you are given rather than having a script or storyboard, and I loved having that freedom. That in turn makes the editing process a lot harder, you have so much footage that needs to be cut to less than 10 minutes. So it did take a huge amount of time and discussion, but the sense of achievement at the end is amazing.”
Both Kim and Niamh graduated from DIT last year. Since then Kim has travelled to New York to intern on documentary projects while Niamh is furthering her studies in digital marketing.
28-year-old Don Carey from Kinsale in Cork won the animation category for his powerful new adaptation of WB Yeats’ Lake Isle of Innisfree and told The Irish World: “I’ve always been a fan of Yeats’ poetry, especially how so many of the themes in his poems are still relevant to today’s culture. I thought that even though The Lake Isle of Innisfree has this connotation as being a very traditional and twee Irish poem, the basic premise, ie. having a homesick, lonely man in a large city could work as a story in a modern context as it did for Yeats in 1888.
“People have commented on this idea of urban loneliness, or where even within a crowd someone can feel isolated and alone, which is one of the things I was after in the film.
“It was completely unexpected to win the RTS award, a big surprise. I haven’t heard much about the finals in May as of yet, but I would be really interested in attending, if just to see the all the other great work being done around the UK.”