3 March 2024 The Irish Film & Television Network

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Ross McDonnell, Emmy-winning Irish filmmaker, dies aged 44
23 Nov 2023 : Luke Shanahan
Ross McDonnell
The family of Emmy-winning filmmaker Ross McDonnell have confirmed his death.

The death of Irish cinematographer and director Ross McDonnell has been confirmed by his family. McDonnell was reported missing on November 4th, when his bike was discovered at Fort Tilden Beach in Queens, New York.

The documentary filmmaker is understood to have drowned after going swimming in the ocean at Breezy Point Beach in Queens near where his remains were found on Friday, November 17th.

McDonnell’s debut feature film Colony premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and won the First Feature Award at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam in 2009. In 2010, the film received an IFTA nomination for Best Feature Documentary. Following this, McDonnell continued to work as a director, cinematographer, and producer. 

In 2018 he was Emmy-nominated for directing the feature length documentary Elián produced by CNN Films, BBC, and Jigsaw Productions. In 2021 he won an Emmy Award for his Cinematography on the Showtime series The Trade. In 2022, Ross won the Emmy Cinematography Award for his work on The First Wave

Other notable cinematography credits includes No Stone Unturned, A Mother Brings Her Son To Be Shot, One Million American Dreams, Remember Me My Ghost, Jihad Jane and Forever Pure. He also executive produced the Damien Dempsey documentary Love Yourself Today.

McDonnell also had a successful photography career. His photography series Fire & Ice in Kiev (2014) and Ukraine’s Frozen Trenches (2015) were both listed as part of Time Magazine's Top 10 images of their respective years. In 2019, McDonnell was shortlisted for the premiere Prix Pictet prize, which opened with an inaugural exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

His family announced his death in a notice on RIP.ie.

The notice reads: “He will be very sadly missed by his loving parents, sister, niece, aunt, uncles, cousins, extended family and his many dear friends, LJ, and also his colleagues in Ireland, USA and around the world”.

McDonnell is survived by his parents Maureen and Nicky, his sister Louise and niece Eva.

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