Entertainment

Michael D Higgins hails Irish Oscar success and ‘remarkable’ year

An Irish Goodbye won the Academy Award for best short film.
An Irish Goodbye won the Academy Award for best short film.

Michael D Higgins has marked Ireland’s success at the Oscars by hailing a “remarkable” year for the Irish film industry.

The Irish President congratulated those behind An Irish Goodbye which took the award for best short film, as well as Richard Baneham who was among those who won the Oscar for visual effects for Avatar: The Way Of Water.

Shot entirely on location in Northern Ireland, black comedy An Irish Goodbye follows the story of two estranged brothers coming to terms with the death of their mother.

Its co-directors led a chorus of Happy Birthday for the film’s star, James Martin, after it was announced as the winner at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

Irish Goodbye
James Martin stars in black comedy An Irish Goodbye (Arts Council Northern Ireland/Brian Morrison/PA)

The film also won the short film category at this year’s Baftas.

President Higgins said: “May I congratulate An Irish Goodbye and Richard Baneham for their fantastic achievements in winning the Best Live-Action Short Film and Best Visual Effects Awards respectively at last night’s Oscars ceremony.

“May I further extend my congratulations to Colin Farrell, Paul Mescal, Kerry Condon, Brendan Gleeson, Barry Keoghan, Jonathan Redmond and all involved with An Cailin Ciuin and The Banshees Of Inisherin for the exceptional recognition of their work which being nominated for an Academy Award constitutes.

“This has been a remarkable year for the Irish film industry and is a testament to the hard work of so many people over recent decades.

“It is particularly welcome to see the recognition which the Irish film industry is receiving on what is the 30th anniversary of the reestablishment of Bord Scannan na hEireann/the Irish Film Board, now Screen Ireland, in 1993.

“The success which we are seeing is built on the acquisition of skills and pursuit of excellence by all in the Irish film community.

“As a gesture to all that has been achieved, and the important contribution of the film and related industries to Irish life, Sabina and myself look forward to hosting a St Patrick’s Day reception celebrating the Irish Film, Audio-Visual and Performing Arts Communities at Aras an Uachtarain this Friday.”

Ireland’s culture minister, Catherine Martin, also congratulated the two Irish Oscar winners.

Launch of TradFest 2023
Culture Minister Catherine Martin said it was a ‘historic night’ for Ireland (Brian Lawless/PA)

Ms Martin said it was a “historic night” for Ireland and testament to the wealth of talent that now exists in the Irish industry.

The minister and the Irish Consulate hosted an Oscars viewing event in Los Angeles for producers, film executives and the Irish community on Sunday night.

“This evening’s ceremony has been a momentous occasion on so many levels; for the nominees who have received richly deserved plaudits for their creative endeavours; for the Irish film industry which is riding the crest of a wave; and for all of us in Ireland who are so proud of your achievements,” she said.

“The Oscars ceremony showcased our talent, our language, and the beauty of our country as a tourism destination to a global audience, and with the pipeline of exciting projects in production at the moment, there is no reason why we can’t be competing every year at the highest level, such is the creative talent within the country at the moment.”

Ms Martin is in LA as part of a trade mission to boost investment in Ireland’s film industry, tourism and culture.

The trip is part of the Irish Government’s St Patrick’s Day programme and includes meetings with US studios and production companies, including Sony and Disney, which includes representatives from Marvel, Searchlight and Lucas Film.

Ireland had a total of 14 Oscar nominations, including nine for The Banshees Of Inisherin.

Susan Bergin, from Screen Ireland, said that, while those who missed out may be disappointed, she praised their “amazing” contribution to raising the profile of the Irish screen industry.

“We couldn’t be more proud of them,” she told RTE Radio One.

“I’m sure there’s some disappointment perhaps for them. But, for us, we couldn’t be more proud because they have raised the profile of the industry.

“We’re here this week on a trade mission led by Minister Martin.

“We have met several studios, and the raising of the profile with all these Oscars (nominations) is just amazing and the feedback and the positivity about Irish creative talent and how good it is to work in Ireland when inward productions come to us.”