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IFTA Winning TV Productions helmed by Female Directors and Producers
15 Apr 2014 : Deirdre Molumby
Anna Rodgers won the Best Director Television IFTA at this year's ceremony
This year’s IFTAs saw a number of wins for female directors and producers in television production.

Anna Rodgers won Best Director in the Television category in a tough competition against directors Maurice Sweeney (for ‘John Sheahan: A Dubliner’), Colm Bairéad (‘An Ceoldráma’) and Tom Johnson (‘Áine Lawlor: Facing Cancer’). Anna Rodgers was awarded for her production ‘Somebody to Love’, about how Irish people with different disabilities (physical or intellectual) feel about love, sex and relationships.

Rodgers told IFTN about her joy on winning the award: “I keep replaying the moment they called out my name in my mind and am still buzzing about it. I really didn't expect to win, and was overjoyed. I kept hugging my amazing producer Zlata Filipovic and forgot I had to go up on stage!

“It was a very important moment for me but of course there are no ‘best directors’ without strong teams behind them and we’d a fantastic crew thanks to Wildfire Films. ‘Somebody to Love’'s strength is in the honesty of the people who told us their stories and allowed us into their lives on such a sensitive topic so I am so grateful to them.”

Rodgers is also a TV producer, and was behind another IFTA-winning production, ‘John Lonergan’s Circus’. Winner of Best Documentary Series, ‘John Lonergan’s Circus’ also had a female director, Judy Kelly. Anna Rodgers produced the series with assistant producer Clare Pearson, so a strongly female team helmed the production. The series sees eight ‘at risk’ teenagers gain valuable lessons for life by joining the Belfast Community Circus School.

Rodgers said of the series: “John Lonergan’s Circus was such a unique and memorable experience for all of the team. Judy Kelly, our director, did such a fantastic job of capturing what was an unforgettable journey. We're so proud of the eight young people who not only managed to stick with it (and us) but also to put on an impressive show in the end.

“I’m not sure whether the crew or the young people learnt more through the project - it was a great opportunity thanks to Conor Moloney at Independent Pictures and of course John Lonergan for all of his wisdom and great humour! I spoke to some of the young people after the awards and they were delighted to hear the series won. One of them, Francesca, is still going up to train in Belfast of her own accord and may yet make a career out of it.”

The winner of Best Factual Series, ‘Seamus Heaney – Postscript – Iarscríbinn’, also had a female director, Maggie Breathnach, behind it. The Red Shoes production consists of an Imeall special that celebrates the life of Seamus Heaney as a man and as a poet.

Breathnach has said on winning the IFTA, “It was a huge honour to accept such prestigious award. As a producer/director I always like to think that we set high standards and let no stone uncovered. Making a tribute documentary as part of an arts series (‘Imeall’) can be tricky you have limited resources and you are in a very tight time schedule.

”It was an honour to make a thirty minute programme in an attempt to portray one of the world’s greatest poets. It wouldn't have been possible without the co-operation of Seamus's family who allowed us into their homes and hearts at such a difficult time for them.”

Alison Millar was the director of ‘The Disappeared’, winner of Best TV Documentary. The BBC Northern Ireland Production tells the dramatic story about those killed and secretly buried by the IRA, and reveals the continuing trauma of the relatives of those who were taken, murdered and buried.

Another female production team, director Louise Ní Fhiannachta and producer Laura Ní Cheallaigh, were behind ‘Páidí Ó Sé – Rí an Pharóiste’. The Magamedia production about the footballing hero of Ventry, Co. Kerry, competed with ‘Batmen’, We Got Game’ and ‘R.O.G.: The Ronan O’Gara Documentary’ to win the IFTA for Sports.

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