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Fionnula Flanagan to Receive IFTA 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award
24 Jan 2012 :
Fionnula Flanagan (photo Barry McCall)
The Irish Film & Television Academy (IFTA) has announced Fionnula Flanagan will be honoured with the IFTA Lifetime Achievement Award at the 9th Annual Irish Film & Television Awards, in Dublin on Saturday 11th of February 2012.

Speaking about Fionnula Flanagan and her Lifetime Achievement Award, IFTA Chief Executive Áine Moriarty said: “IFTA is proud to pay tribute to one of Ireland’s finest actresses, celebrating her work spanning almost 50 years and showcasing her great skill and craft in illuminating every character she has portrayed, captivating audiences around the world. Fionnula is a wonderful representative internationally, of Ireland’s film and television industry and continues to support home productions along with her international work; she has the greatest respect from her peers here at home."

Speaking about receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award, Fionnula Flanagan said: “I am bowled over to be chosen by the Irish Academy to receive this wonderful Award. It is a great honor to be invited to join the ranks of the gifted former recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award and, having checked, I am encouraged to find that their work lives continue, some even flourishing, so that if I learn my lines and hit my marks and don't bump into the furniture, my own career might just continue on also. All the more enriched by this beautiful recognition from my IFTA colleagues to whom I say a big thank you!"
Tributes from Fionnula's friends and colleagues have already begun pouring in - see copy below.

Born in Dublin 1941, a look at Fionnula Flanagan’s multi-award winning career reveals the actress as a versatile, artistic and engaging performer. In drama or comedic roles, Fionnula has deftly portrayed an incredible array of characters in as many different genres - easily inhabiting the lives of Irish women, struggling US immigrants and Lost islanders; telling stories of Joycian Dublin, star wars and the great Western frontier; in settings from modern Ireland to beyond the grave and even deep space.

Training at Dublin’s Abbey Theatre and London’s Old Vic, Fionnula Flanagan began her career in 1965 working on stage productions in Ireland and the UK before wowing audiences in New York and Los Angeles. Her debut feature film was 1967’s Ulysses, alongside Milo O’Sea and TP McKenna, with her performance of Gerty McDowell, establishing Fionnula as one of the foremost interpreters of Joyce’s work. When no dramatist attempted to dramatise one of the most complex and compelling heroines of 20th Century literature: James Joyce’s Molly Bloom, Flanagan, displaying her noted strength and determination, undertook the task herself, writing and then performing as a one-woman stage piece, James Joyce’s Women (1977). Critics commented it was the role that the leading Irish actress was born to play - one which she subsequently filmed, wrote and produced in 1983, playing all six main female roles.

Working as an actress for almost 50 years, Fionnula Flanagan melds the two distinct elements of her career into an amazing and continuous flow of masterful characterisations. She has had co-starring performances in such Hollywood-generated films as The Others and The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. Then, if you cross the ocean you see the actress’ Irish roots starring roles in such distinctive Irish films as the acclaimed comedy Waking Ned Devine (1998), alongside 2005’s IFTA Lifetime Achievement Award recipient David Kelly - who upon hearing of Fionnula joining him as a Lifetime Member of the Irish Academy said:

";Fionnula Flanagan? Wonderful! What a lady - a true star, I can't think of anyone who deserves it more."

Terry George’s 1996 feature Some Mother’s Son saw Fionnula in one of her most famous Irish performances - that of a mother to a Northern Ireland hunger striker, alongside Helen Mirren. Fionnula’s superb portrayal of Annie Higgins, a woman who backs her son’s actions to the hilt, was described by critics as “fiercely played” and helped earn the film honours at the European Film Awards and San Sebastian Festival.

Speaking about Fionnula Flanagan receiving the IFTA Lifetime Achievement Award, Some Mother’s Son director Terry George described the actress as: "Fabulous, fearless, ferocious in her commitment to acting and to everything she does. She brings life and soul to every project she's in and I look forward to the day when I can work with her again."

Back working in the US, the daring Irish actress played supporting mother again to Felicity Huffman’s transsexual character Bree in the 2005 Oscar nominated drama Transamerica. The film was critically acclaimed worldwide and garnered Fionnula further rave reviews, in addition to an Irish Film & Television Award (IFTA) for Best Supporting Actress. Co-starring alongside Nicole Kidman in Alejandro Amenábar chilling box-office smash The Others saw more awards recognition for Fionnula, winning her a Saturn Award in 2001 with critics calling her “one of the most terrifying servants in film history.” Flanagan also received an Emmy Award for her work on the 1976 mini-series Rich Man, Poor Man; was nominated again for her role in How the West Was Won and received a Satellite Award in 2008 for her performance in the Showtime drama series Brotherhood.

Fionnula Flanagan has shared the big screen with co-stars including Sandra Bullock and Maggie Smith(The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood), Jim Carey (Yes Man), Helen Mirren (Some Mother’s Son), Ricky Gervais and Jason Bateman (The Invention of Lying), Anthony Hopkins (Slipstream), Mark Whalberg (Four Brothers) and Bruce Willis (Tears of the Sun) to name but a few; and she has worked extensively in television with appearances in series including Murder She Wrote, The Ewok Adventure, To Have and to Hold, TG4’s Paddywhackery, H.E.L.P and Bonanza. From 2007 to 2010 her recurring role as the enigmatic Eloise Hawking in ABC’s Lost introduced her to brand new generation of dedicated fans, adding to her already established cult following after guest starring roles as a Vulcan ambassador and Data’s mother in the Star Trek series Deep Space and Next Generation respectively.

Among Fionnula’s other notable feature film credits include Academy Award winning short film In The Region of Ice; the TV Movie Death Dreams alongside Christopher Reeve; Mad At the Moon and Money for Nothing. She recently starred in John Michael McDonagh’s successful Irish feature The Guard - which was Golden Globe nominated this year and has been shortlist for nine IFTAs in 2012, including Best Film - with Fionnula herself shortlisted in the Supporting Actress Film category.

Proving the veteran actress has not slowed down in recent times, Fionnula Flanagan will next be seen in Kill The Irishman with Ray Stevenson, Christopher Walken and Val Kilmer - the true story of notorious Irish-American mobster Danny Greene. In 2011, she joined the cast of seasonal family film When Angels Sing, starring alongside country legends Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and Lyle Lovett - and playing on-screen mother to US crooner Harry Connick Jr.

Speaking about his When Angels Sing cast mate, Willie Nelson said: "Congratulations Fionnula!! You are the most beautiful, kind, and amazingly talented actress on the planet, especially if you could make a bunch of old Texas coyotes like Kris and I look good!"

Fionnula Flanagan this weekend finished production on her latest project Life’s a Breeze, a new Irish feature film from Kisses director Lance Daly, on locations across Ireland and Sweden. The film follows a family in search of a lost fortune and sees Fionnula take on the lead role as Nan, opposite a stellar cast of Irish actors including IFTA winners Eva Birthistle and Pat Shortt. With news breaking on set that Fionnula is this year’s recipient of the IFTA Lifetime Achievement Award, tributes have poured in.

Fionnula’s Life’s a Breeze co-star Pat Shortt said today of her Lifetime Achievement Award at IFTA 2012:

Fionnula is an immensely talented actress, a stunningly beautiful woman and always great craic to work with on set. I am delighted that she is receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award and I’ve a feeling we’ll be seeing a lot more of her yet.”
Two-time IFTA winning actress Eva Birthistle sent this tribute to the actress: "I just had the absolute pleasure of working with Fionnula, not only great fun on set, she was incredible to watch, a true pro. I felt privileged to observe her nuanced, powerful performance, a truly deserved Award!"

And Life’s a Breeze director Lance Daly said of his leading lady; "I have had great joy in directing Fionnula in our new film Life's a Breeze, in which she delivers a performance which is both hilarious and heartbreaking, bringing many decades of experience and finely honed craft to our production. Fionnula has been a favourite of both cast and crew, on set and off, bringing relentless professionalism and good humour to every occasion. I am delighted to see her receive this award and would like to, in particular, thank her for her extremely generous and patient mentorship of our young leading lady Kelly Thornton, who makes her debut in the film. I am certain from seeing Fionnula's work over the past few months that anyone who thinks this Lifetime Achievement Award is a cap on her inspirational career should think again - the formidable Ms. Flanagan is just getting started."

Fionnula Flanagan will return to Dublin on February 11th to accept her Lifetime Achievement Award from the Irish Academy and will be joined by family, colleagues and friends who will gather to pay tribute to her illustrious career and lifetime achievements in acting.
Previous recipients of the Irish Film & Television Academy’s Honourary Award include actors Maureen O’Hara, David Kelly, and Pierce Brosnan; Directors Neil Jordan and John Boorman and producer Morgan O’Sullivan.

Hosted by Simon Delaney, the 9th Annual Irish Film & Television Awards take place at the Convention Centre Dublin (CCD) on Saturday 11th of February and will be broadcast on RTE One that evening at 9.30pm.

The Irish Film & Television Awards are sponsored by Irish Film Board/Bord Scannán na hÉireann; RTÉ, IFTN, Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, Philips, RTÉ Guide; and has Partners MAC, CityJet, BMW, Moët & Chandon, Walt Disney Studios (Ireland), HBC.

For further information visit www.ifta.ie, www.facebook.com/iftaonline, www.twitter.com/ifta

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