Irish film is now fully primed for a complete global takeover
2023 is already a stellar year for Irish film, but this is only the beginning.
You'd be forgiven for thinking that we might never get another year as good as this for Irish cinema and for Irish filmmakers. Between the awards success to date for the likes of The Banshees of Inisherin, An Cailín Ciúin, An Irish Goodbye, Paul Mescal for Aftersun, Daryl McCormack for Good Luck To You Leo Grande, and loads more besides, this truly feels like a year unlike any other before, or potentially any year to follow.
Of course, that goes beyond just movie-making, with Irish TV also proving to have a much larger international appeal than at any time before. When we chatted to Sharon Horgan about Bad Sisters, she told us the following:
"There's co-productions now that allow for some shows to be a bit more spend'y, like Kin and Normal People. For me, this was the first time that I've had that kind of support budget-wise and have that many toys to play with and being allowed to put it all on screen. [We could] get the best people and really show Ireland off, as well. I think it looks pretty incredible, [it is] everything we hoped it would be when we were initially selling the idea to Apple for why we wanted to shoot it in Ireland. I wanted to shoot there for very selfish and personal reasons, but also I didn't have the chance to do it before, I didn't have a fully Irish story to tell."
But that tide is indeed turning. It is no longer a case that an Ireland breakthrough is a rare occasion. In fact, we should probably get used to seeing them more and more often, as the Irish government itself has made this level of creativity and output central to their idea of the future of Irish culture. Louise Ryan, head of marketing and communications for Screen Ireland, told us the following:
"The Irish government has put creativity at the centre of its policy. They definitely have that vision of Ireland being a creative hub, and Minister Martin has invested in the arts and supported arts throughout an incredibly challenging number of years. And I feel what you're getting now is, yes, we're definitely seeing the results in film. But equally, in novels; An Cailín Ciúin was based on Foster [the Claire Keegan book], and you see the theatre is obviously central to what Martin McDonagh does. And then the acting talent, they cut their teeth in theatre, and also in film.
"I think there has been an awful lot of investment in training, and in skills development. And you've got Bow Street, The Factory, the Gaiety School of Acting, so there has been a lot of investment and a lot time given into the schools development, and I think that's very important."
When you look at the massive success that Ireland has had in animation - Cartoon Saloon has had four of its five movies to date nominated for Best Animated Feature at the Oscars - we should probably start to expect that level of success to spread. The success of An Cailín Ciúin, as well as 2019's Arracht, should see a new spotlight of attention put on as Gaeilge productions. Lee Cronin, director of hit Irish horror The Hole In The Ground, has been put in the director's seat for much anticipated scary movie sequel Evil Dead Rise.
And it is getting to the point where huge Irish stars are solely fronting big Hollywood productions. When we spoke to Saoirse Ronan about her new thriller Foe, in which she co-stars with Paul Mescal, she told us the following:
"I would say to them all the time, how proud I was that the two of us, these two young Irish actors were leading a movie. And also that I thought it was kind of cool about it not being a movie that was set in Ireland. It wasn't about being Irish. We were just actors that were chosen to lead this film together. I don't know how often that's actually happened, so there's something very exciting about that. There's such a strong group now of acting talent and of filmmakers from [Ireland] that are doing incredible work in Ireland. It's just a really exciting time."
So, yes, 2023 will prove to be a stellar year for all things to do with Irish film and Irish filmmakers. But don't go thinking this is an anomaly, that this is merely a confluence of a number of different productions that all happened to be released around the same time. Nope, this is just the beginning of the Irish takeover of Hollywood.
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