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IFTA Film & Drama Awards Focus: George Morrison Feature Documentary Nominees #IFTA17
28 Mar 2017 : Katie McNeice
'Bobby Sands: 66 Days'
Ireland’s continued success on the international film scene this year has benefited from our growing pool of non-fictional filmmakers, and the poignant stories our talent are choosing to tell through the medium of documentary.

The diversity of the nominees this year is matched by a growing international appetite for Irish non-fiction, with our content travelling to the prestigious Sundance Film Festival, Sheffield Doc/Fest and Hot Docs in Toronto to name a few.

The George Morrison Feature Documentary Award is named as such in honour of the Irish documentarist whose work includes 'Dublin Day', 'Saoirse?' and 'Mise Éire'.

Atlantic, Risteard O Domhnaill
With Brendan Gleeson narrating the troubling and timely issues, O’Domhnaill crafts a damning picture of fish and oil, their exploitation and impact this has on three small fishing communities.

‘Atlantic’ is backed by Irish Film Board, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the Newfoundland and Labrador Film Development Corporation and Nordnorsk Filmsenter (the North Norwegian Film Centre).

Risteard O’Domhnaill, Director:
“My last documentary, ‘The Pipe’, told the story of a small coastal community as they faced down one of the world’s most powerful oil companies, which was forcing a high-pressure raw gas pipeline through their farms and fishing grounds. The story raised more questions for me than it answered, leading me to look at the politics of our oil and gas prospects off the Irish coast. What has since unfolded is an incredible story of resource mismanagement, and the capture of our offshore riches —oil, gas and fishing—whilst our gaze is elsewhere.”

Brendan Gleeson, Narrator:
“Atlantic is an engrossing piece of truth-seeking, visually stunning and crafted with clarity and insight. It was an honour to be involved.”

Bobby Sands: 66 Days, Trevor Birney     
This intimate portrait of Bobby Sands examines the events surrounding the young Irish republican's hunger strike, which led to his death in May, 1981.

The title was acquired by Wildcard Distribution in May of 2016, shortly before travelling to Hot Docs International Film Festival in Toronto and Sheffield Doc/Fest in the same month. In its domestic release in August 2016 broke Irish box office records for the highest opening weekend to date for an Irish made documentary.

Brendan J. Byrne, Producer:
“Bobby Sands and the 1981 hunger strike is one of the few stories from the Northern Ireland conflict whose myriad threads weave together to give us the bigger picture, and I was intrigued to explore the life of someone who was prepared to die for their beliefs.”

In Loco Parentis, Neasa Ní Chianáin       
Set in Ireland’s only remaining boarding school for students of primary age, Heartfort boarding in Kells, Co. Meath, ‘In Loco Parentis’ offers a touching portrait of its long-term teachers John and Amanda as they prepare to leave their home and work of many years.

It is Soilsiu Films project in co-production with GrisMedio, produced by Rane, Efthymia Zymvragaki, Angelo Orlando and Montse Portabella. Just last month worldwide rights to the title were acquired by Magnolia Pictures, while it also screened at Sundance this year and will go on to show to audiences in San Francisco in April.

Neasa Ni Chianain, Co-Director:
“We wanted to shoot a year in the life of the school, shot purely observationally, no interviews, no voice of God guiding the audience, etc. We knew it had to be a total immersion project for us to get the access and intimacy we wanted to capture.”

It’s Not Yet Dark, Lesley McKimm & Kathryn Kennedy  
This feature debut from director Frankie Fenton explores the life, courage and creativity of fellow filmmaker Simon Fitzmaurice, as he embarks on directing his own first feature film (My Name is Emily) using only eye-gaze technology. Fitzmaurice was diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease in 2008.

‘It’s Not Yet Dark’ is another of Ireland’s documentary projects to have screened at Sundance this year and is produced by Kathryn Kennedy of Kennedy Films and Lesley McKimm, formerly of Newgrange Pictures.

Frankie Fenton, Director:
“Simon is Irish for stamina. Well, that's not true... but it should be. What an inspirational work ethic. He gave crew members the energy to work through any typical day to day problems with ease. At times it was quite emotional on set, especially towards the end. I’m still not sure most people understand what an accomplishment it is what he did. It’s an achievement of the highest order.”

Mattress Men, Dave Clarke & Ciarán Deeney    
Colm Quinn follows Michael Flynn as he tries to save his struggling mattress business by reinventing himself as eccentric online persona 'Mattress Mick', under the guidance of his friend Paul Kelly.

This El Zorro Films production boasts an extensive festival run since completion, including Sheffield Doc/Fest and Hot Docs, two of the most prestigious festivals dedicated to documentary in the world.

Colm Quinn, Director:
“I’ve asked myself a few times about why he connects so much with people. I think it’s the complete lack of inhibition that Mick shows. You’ve got this guy in his early sixties who wasn’t Mattress Mick six years ago - he was Michael Flynn, a struggling businessman.” 

For a full list of #IFTA17 Nominees visit the Official IFTA Website 

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