By Kelly O’Connor
Irish Film has punched above its weight for years. As a nation of natural storytellers and poets with a penchant for connecting with people, Ireland has done remarkably well for its size.
The regular dips in funding for film in Ireland (40 per cent over the last 10 years) impacts the potential output, which has been seen across the board in recent years as Ireland’s once expected place at the Academy Awards has been passed elsewhere. Despite that, amazingly there have been some outstanding achievements in the field e.g. The Guard, Song of the Sea.
With this week’s Oscar nominations, we have a moment in time where Ireland is on the lips of every newscaster on every network across the States, Europe and beyond.
Discerning film aficionados will have followed the progress of people like Lenny Abrahamson and Saoirse Ronan with a knowing eye. However, some of the nominations surprised even those close to the fire.
Ed Guiney, long term collaborator of Lenny Abrahamson’s and co-founder of Element Pictures, Ireland’s leading production and Distribution Company said of Lenny Abrahamson’s Best Director nomination: “Lenny we gave up on ages ago because we thought it’s an award for older directors,” he said.
While these awards are absolutely not the only measure of talent in the film industry, their eminence and influence firmly places their subjects on an international stage.
The doors that will now be opened are key, and not only for those directly related to these particular films. With the imminent renewed international interest in Irish Film, this is the time for additional investment from the state, to maximise on the opportunity for all Irish filmmakers.
Additional prospects for foreign investment beyond the 481 tax incentive, and indeed a renewed interest in local financing are likely to follow.
As a representative of Irish Film in the UK, Irish Film London is eagerly awaiting the impact that this shift could have on the creative output over the next few years.
However, we firmly support James Hickey’s calls for a review of the governmental funding allocation this year on the basis of concerns about losing the momentum built by years of investment, at this key stage.
Kelly O’Connor is the Director of Irish Film Festival London