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Martin Scorsese praises Irish storytelling as IFTA Awards go virtual

Films such as Ordinary Love, Black '47 and Rosie, and actors Andrew Scott and Jessie Buckley have won big at the Irish Film & Television Academy (IFTA) awards last night..

The IFTA Awards were hosted by the Irish Film & Television Academy on Virgin Media One last night, with Deirdre O’Kane at the helm.

It was a star-studded affair this year, with high-profile international guests virtually presenting awards to filmmakers and actors.

Ordinary Love won Best Film 2020, which was awarded by legendary Hollywood director Martin Scorsese.

Mr Scorsese also presented Black '47 with the award for Best Film 2019.

"Little did we know what strange times lay ahead that we are witnessing now, and it appears to me that we are all having to reinvent cinema now, and that’s a good thing, it is," said the Hollywood legend. 

"Because now, more than ever, we need the moving image. We need vision, creativity and storytelling that takes us on a journey and opens us, enlightens us, opens our hearts and our minds, and there's something about Ireland and Irish storytelling that is universal that connects with everyone in the world. John Ford knew that, and I know that." 

Tom Vaughan-Lawlor won Best Actor in Film and accepted the award from his living room couch with his wife and children. 

"Thank you to IFTA for all the work they've done for the industry during the lockdown. I'm very proud to be a member.

"We all know how special Mr O’Halloran is, and him entrusting this part with me was a huge honour."

Andrew Scott, who won Best Actor in a Drama for his role in Black Mirror: Smithereens, joined live from a beach on Dubrovnik.

"Oh, WOW thank you so much, everybody, that's incredible," he said. 

"Hello, Ireland. I miss you an incredible amount. I feel bereft for not having been home for such a long time. This really makes me feel connected." 

He went on to make an impassioned plea for the Irish Arts. "Let's keep the arts going in whatever way we can and try and support it whenever we feel it's safe enough to do so.

"Because the arts are the most wonderful thing about our lives. And I'm so proud to be an Irish artist. So thank you and have a great night, people, wherever you are."

Aisling Franciosi won the Fís Éireann/Screen Ireland Rising Star Award for her standout performance in The Nightingale. 

"This is actually a huge surprise and I'm honoured to be next to Niamh, Lee, Andy and Ryan," she said.

"I'm always really proud of the work and the talent coming out of Ireland, and to get this award from home is really, really lovely."

Kerry native Jessie Buckey won two awards on the night, Best Actress Film, for her work in Wild Rose, and Best Supporting Actress in a Drama for Chernobyl. 

"Thank you so much, this is completely unexpected. I literally have just come in the front door, jumped in the shower and threw a dress on myself…this is all so overwhelming."

She also took time to thank Adi Roche for her tireless work with the children of Chernobyl.

Pierce Brosnan announced Niamh Algar as the winner of Best Supporting Actress in a Film for Calm with Horses. 

"I am truly honoured to be part of this filmmaking community of storytellers and people who I so greatly admire," said Mr Brosnan.

Ms Algar praised the increased representation of women on screen: "I got into acting because I wanted to bring representation to women on screen. And every female actress here tonight is doing that. And it makes me incredibly proud to be an Irish actress so thank you very much IFTA."

Liam Neeson shared a special message to the Irish Screen industries, saying he was thinking of everyone back in Ireland. 

"I know we are going through hard times, cruel times. Many industries have been hurt, especially the film industry, but we will get through it; we must get through it. 

"As a famous politician once said, ‘when you're going through hell, keep going’. 

"To all our film-makers, young actors and actresses try and stay strong, stay creative. The work will come back again, and tonight we are going to celebrate how cool and how great a film industry we have in Ireland," he added.

Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal of Normal People fame presented the awards for Best Short Film and Best Animated Short. 

Ms Edgar-Jones noted that Ireland has an incredible record with Short films, with many IFTA nominees having gone on to Oscar Glory in the past.

Mr Mescal announced Welcome to a Bright White Limbo as this year’s Best Short Film winner. The award for Best Animated Short went to The Dream Report.

"I know we all miss the chance of being together on a night like this when the Irish academy acknowledges and celebrates truly spectacular work that Irish filmmakers are achieving front and behind the camera," said Caitriona Balfe, star of Outlander.

The awards also included a world premiere of the video for The Blizzards' new single, One Good Thing.

IFTA CEO Áine Moriarty said they were overwhelmed with the positive response from the industry in relation to holding a virtual ceremony.

"It’s important that we try to keep positive and to make the best of the circumstances that we all find ourselves in. 

"That is why the Academy has been determined to showcase, acknowledge and reward the excellent craft and production being achieved by Ireland’s talented filmmaking community, who are delivering world-class standards."

Bill Malone, Virgin Media Television’s Director of Content, said Virgin Media Television are "passionate about supporting and championing Irish creative talent and the Virtual IFTA Awards provide a great opportunity to showcase the great work being achieved by Irish talent across the world."

The IFTA Awards is funded by Fís Éireann/Screen Ireland, and also supported by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) and Virgin Media Television.

The full list of winners is below:

  • Best Film 2020: Ordinary Love
  • Best Film 2019: Black 47 
  • Director Film: Paddy Breathnach - Rosie 
  • Scriptwriter Film: Mark O’Halloran - Rialto 
  • Actor In A Leading Role - Film: Tom Vaughan-Lawlor - Rialto 
  • Actress In A Leading Role - Film: Jessie Buckley - Wild Rose 
  • Actor In A Supporting Role - Film: David Wilmot - Ordinary Love 
  • Actress Supporting Role - Film: Niamh Algar - Calm with Horses 
  • George Morrison Feature Documentary: The Lonely Battle of Thomas Reid 
  • Irish Film Board Rising Star: Aisling Franciosi 
  • Short Film – Live Action: Welcome to a Bright White Limbo 
  • Animated Short Film: The Dream Report 
  • Drama: Blood 
  • Director – Drama: Dearbhla Walsh - The Handmaid’s Tale 
  • Scriptwriter – Drama: Mark O’Rowe - Temple 
  • Actor In A Leading Role - Drama: Andrew Scott - Black Mirror: Smithereens 
  • Actress In A Leading Role - Drama: Niamh Algar - The Virtues 
  • Actor In A Supporting Role - Drama: Mark O’Halloran - The Virtues 
  • Actress In A Supporting Role - Drama: Jessie Buckley - Chernobyl 
  • Cinematography: Pierce McGrail- Never Grow Old 
  • Costume Design: Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh - The Rhythm Section 
  • Editing: Mick Mahon - Gaza 
  • Makeup & Hair: Liz Byrne & Linda Gannon - Black ‘47 
  • Original Music: Kíla - Arracht 
  • Production Design: John Leslie - Never Grow Old 
  • Sound: Brendan Rehill, Alan Scully & Peter Blayney - Arracht 
  • VFX: Ed Bruce & Nicholas Murphy - We Have Always Lived in the Castle