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President Higgins hosts St Patrick’s Day Reception for Irish Film Industry

Date: Fri 17th Mar, 2023 | 16:00

President Michael D. Higgins and his wife Sabina this afternoon hosted a St Patrick’s Day Reception at Áras an Uachtaráin in celebration of members of the Irish Film, Audio-Visual and Performing Arts Communities.

The reception took place following a record 14 Irish nominations at the Academy Awards which took place last weekend in Los Angeles as a gesture to all that has been achieved and the important contribution of the film and related industries to Irish life.

Those in attendance included director Ross White and actor James Martin from An Irish Goodbye, winner of the Oscar for Best Live-Action Short Film; Best Supporting Actor nominee Brendan Gleeson, fellow actors Bríd Ní Neachtain, Jon Kenny and Sheila Flitton, and Location Manager Eoin Holohan from multiple Oscar nominated The Banshees of Inisherin; and Director Colm Bairéad, actors Catherine Clinch and Andrew Bennett, Producer Cleona Ní Chrualaoi and Director of Photography Kate McCullough from Best International Feature Film nominee An Cailín Ciúin. Also in attendance were Oscar winning producer David Puttnam and representatives from across the Irish film industry.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the reestablishment of Bord Scannán na hÉireann / the Irish Film Board, now Screen Ireland, in 1993. Present at the reception were Chief Executive Désirée Finnegan, Chair Susan Bergin and members of the Board of Screen Ireland as well as representatives of the Screen Directors Guild Ireland, the Screen Composers Guild Ireland, Screen Producers Ireland, the Writers Guild of Ireland and the Locations Guild of Ireland.

Speaking at the event, President Higgins said:

“As President of Ireland, it gives me great joy and pleasure to witness the attention that is being given to the hard-earned success of our film community, an attention that was generated in a special way by a record 14 Oscar nominations having been secured this year.

May I take this opportunity to warmly congratulate the recipients of Oscars at this week’s Academy Awards for their exceptional achievements. I was so moved by the warmth conveyed in An Irish Goodbye. The relationships presented with superb acting, pace and direction had a ring of authenticity.

Film production requires the assembling of so many skills. In winning his second Oscar for Best Visual Effects, Richard Baneham draws attention again to the often under-recognised technical achievements that have developed in Irish film-making.

May I offer sincere congratulations to all of the Irish film community who received so many nominations – Colin Farrell, Paul Mescal, Kerry Condon, Brendan Gleeson, Barry Keoghan and Jonathan Redmond.

To all involved with ‘An Cailín Ciúin’ which made history as a full length feature in Irish, this is of such importance for work in the Irish language. I congratulate ‘The Banshees of Inisherin’ for the exceptional recognition of their work which receiving so many nominations constitutes. May I also take the opportunity to recognise the performance of Jessie Buckley in ‘Women Talking’, winner of Best Adapted Screenplay.

This recent success of Irish film may be a surprise to some, but for those working in film it is welcome recognition of what they have been building towards over recent decades with the aid of Government policies and artist support.

The present strength of a multi-skilled creative film community on the island of Ireland is the result of committed, loyal supporters of film and decades of work.

It is a community that was sustained heroically and is being pushed ever forward creatively. More and more Irish films, including animated films, are receiving recognition and critical acclaim abroad. That Ireland is now correctly regarded as an important hub for film-making, including post-production activities, is a real achievement by all those in the different generations who have worked to bring it about.

We must never forget that film or the performing arts are not mere commodities. Film is a powerful and distinct art form, built on the magic of celluloid images, one that expresses the imagination, the memory and the complex circumstances of a people.

In using the many and various artistic mechanisms in innovative and challenging ways, such as script, lighting, direction, music and silence, film has the capacity of addressing the very essence of our being, of our human struggles, our sorrow and our joy.”