For An Island Of Fewer Than 6.5 Million, Irish Film Punches Well Above Its Weight

The 2023 Oscar nominations will be revealed in LA early Tuesday morning. There is a high expectation that Irish film talent, writing and the Irish landscape will feature at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on March 27th. For the time an Irish language film (An Cailín Ciúin) could make the shortlist of Best International Feature. Having worked on An Cailín Ciúin, it would extra special for me if it gets the nod. Even if it doesn’t go our way on the night what an achievement for Colm Bairéad’s first feature to be in contention with ‘All Quiet on The Western Front’ (Germany). Last year Kenneth Branagh won an Oscar for Belfast for Best Original Screen Play. The form is already set with another Irish film, The Banshees of Inisherin winning 3 Golden Globes, five nominations at the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) awards and receiving 10 BAFTA nominations. An Cailín Ciúin received 2 BAFTA nominations along with several Irish actors nominated.

For an island of fewer than 6.5 million people, we punch well above our weight in terms of Irish film sector. The economic importance of the Irish film industry to the local economy has seen steady growth for the past 20 years. Section 481 tax incentives ensure that we continue to attract big-budget Hollywood features and TV series, albeit tax incentives need to be reviewed in light of larger budget projects we miss out on in recent years. Fís Éireann/Screen Ireland has done incredible work in recent years with a limited budget to develop Irish talent and training and the rollout of a slew of training courses. Recently they reopened an office in Los Angeles, while on the home front developing 3 regional training hubs to ensure the growth of the sector is spread across the country. Just recently, SI announced a historic agreement between the Government of Ireland and the Government of the French Republic on Cinematographic Co-Production, which will enable and encourage increased collaboration and production between both countries. 

Continued investment in the indigenous sector is critical in a multicultural world. The success of ‘Banshees’ and TV series such as ‘Ordinary People’ now sold to 103 territories along with the phenomenal success of ‘An Cailín Ciúin’ at award ceremonies is a nod to our storytelling secondly, it promotes Ireland’s brand.

In a world of mobile capital, investors want to invest in a country that has a vibrant cultural scene; they want to be in a country that has a distinct cultural footprint and matches their values. Besides the tax incentives mentioned earlier, these investors want to invest in a country that is viewed as a safe and stable society. Success breeds success Ireland’s regular presence at film award ceremonies is key to keeping the focus on Ireland as a film destination.

Additionally, screen footage from productions like ‘The Banshees of Inisherin’, ‘The Wonder’ or ‘Belfast’ is quickly identifiable and enables Tourism Ireland to promote Ireland as a holiday destination. I do not doubt that Achill Island is going to receive a dramatic increase in tourists in 2023.

I am certain thirty years ago a career in the film sector was something few Irish career guidance officers would suggest to leaving cert students. Today’s students across the island are watching shows with actors like Paul Mescal or Saoirse Ronan, the work of Irish cinematographers’ production designers or costume designers knowing that is within their grasp if they want it.

To attract bigger-budget movies and provide an evergreen industry we need larger studio campuses. Last year Hammerlake Studios received planning permission to develop a green high-tech studio. The year’s award nomination season has put wind in all our sails.

Fingers crossed for Team Ireland on Tuesday night.