Northern Ireland news

Frances McDormand's glittering film career includes award-winning movie filmed in Northern Ireland

In this video image provided by ABC, Frances McDormand accepts the best picture award for "Nomadland" as director Chloe Zhao looks on at the Oscars. Picture by ABC via AP

FRANCES McDormand may be the toast of Hollywood after securing her third best actress Oscar, but her long career also includes an award-winning movie filmed in Northern Ireland.

It was back in 1990 that the American appeared in political crime thriller Hidden Agenda, directed by Ken Loach.

In what is regarded as "one of the surprises in her film CV", it was set against the backdrop of the Troubles and told the story of the fictional assassination of an American civil rights lawyer and political activist.

McDormand starred as Ingrid Jessner, who helps investigate the killing of her partner Paul Sullivan in Belfast whilst he was accompanied by an IRA sympathiser.

Attempts to uncover the truth meet resistance from the RUC and British intelligence and suggest a wider conspiracy at the heart of the establishment.

The plot attracted criticism in some quarters for being too sympathetic to republicans but won the Jury Prize at the 1990 Cannes Film Festival.

McDormamd would win an Oscar later that decade for her role in Fargo and in 2018 won her best actress statuette for her part in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

Meanwhile, a Newry-born film-maker missed out on the Oscar for best animated feature film.

Tomm Moore, who co-founded the Kilkenny-based studio Cartoon Saloon with two friends in the 1990s, had been hoping their eco-themed fantasy adventure Wolfwalkers would triumph.

But the award went to the favourite, Pixar's existential odyssey Soul.

Wolfwalkers is set in Ireland during the mid-1600s and follows the story of a young English girl called Robyn, who is the daughter of an English huntsman, voiced by Sean Bean.

He has the job of clearing the wolves from a forest near Kilkenny, at the same time that Robyn befriends a wolf that can transform into a human girl.

It has been Cartoon Saloon's fifth Oscar nod after The Breadwinner, Song of the Sea, The Secret of Kells and the short Late Afternoon were all previously nominated.

The 93rd Academy Awards had been delayed from February due to the pandemic and while the ceremony took place in Los Angeles, the Cartoon Saloon contingent were unable to travel.

Instead they gathered at Kilkenny Castle, where an outside broadcast was set up.

Mr Moore tweeted: "That was so great. I got to howl to the moon in front of our beautiful city’s castle (Kilkenny).

"I hope even more people are inspired to check out Wolfwalkers after seeing that beautiful sequence as part of the Oscars."

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