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IFTA Lifetime Award for John Boorman
20 Jan 2010 :
John Boorman
Irish Minister of State, Martin Mansergh has announced that celebrated director, producer and writer, John Boorman, is to be honoured with the IFTA 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Minister made the announcement at an IFTA press reception held in Dublin’s Shelbourne Hotel today, where he also revealed the Irish Film & Television Academy 2010 roll-out of events, met with Members of the IFTA Board and congratulated a number of IFTA 2010 nominees who were in attendance.

Speaking at today’s event Minister Mansergh praised John Boorman’s work, laying particular emphasis on his significant role in promoting Irish talent around the world: "John Boorman has deservedly received many accolades over his long career.” He said “However this Lifetime Achievement Award from Ireland will also celebrate John’s impact and influence on the early years of our film industry, playing a vital role on the original Irish Film Board and also as Chairman of Ardmore Studios."

The minister continued by highlighting the contribution of the Irish film industry to the national economy saying: “Ireland’s audiovisual industry is a vital part of the 'smart' economy, developing a vibrant mix of talent, creativity and enterprise. I am delighted to acknowledge the fine work achieved by this industry over the past 12 months. The sector continues to deliver quality output that has achieved both critical and economic success.”

He concluded by stating simply that: “The IFTA nominated titles this year demonstrate once again, that Ireland has a fantastic resource of creative talent and expertise; writers, directors, producers, actors and craftspeople.”

IFTA CEO Áine Moriarty who introduced the minister to the assembled guests said: “The Irish Film & Television Academy is proud to pay tribute to this great visionary filmmaker John Boorman, as it is our chance to acknowledge the infinite source of inspiration and leadership he has given to the Irish film industry over the years.”

Born in England in 1933, John Boorman is no stranger to Irish soil having resided in Co. Wicklow for almost forty years. Since his arrival in Ireland John has had a pivotal influence on the Irish film industry and was an intrinsic force in the development of what the industry has become today. John Boorman served as Chairman of the first Irish Film Board and was chairman of the National Film Studios (now Ardmore Studios) until 1982. In these roles John Boorman nurtured the careers of countless Irish directors, writers, producers, actors and crew through encouragement, support and inspiration. Mr. Boorman’s Grandmother Fitzgerald (on his father’s side) was Irish and influenced his fascination with Celtic myths, which so often appear in his work.

A champion of Ireland as a first class film location to international filmmakers and global audiences, John Boorman has shot four of his 19 feature film projects here, beginning in 1974 with the sci-fi drama ‘Zardoz’, starring Scottish actor Sean Connery as the futuristic barbarian Zed. He returned his production to Ireland once again in 1980 with the Arthurian epic ‘Excalibur’, featuring then unknown acting talents of Liam Neeson, Gabriel Byrne and Ciarán Hinds in their earliest film roles. ‘Excalibur’ included apprentice screenwriter Neil Jordan amongst its largely Irish crew and John went on to exec-produce Neil Jordan’s breakthrough project ‘Angel’ in 1982.

IFTA Nominee Neil Jordan (Ondine) commented today on the news of John Boorman’s IFTA Lifetime Achievement Award saying, “John Boorman gave me my first real screenwriting job and was gracious enough to produce my first feature, Angel. What I relish about all of his films is the fact that they couldn't exist in any other medium. He is a true artist of the cinema, and his place in its history has long been secure.”

Fellow IFTA nominee, Ciarán Hinds (The Eclipse) was also full of praise for Mr. Boorman: “John Boorman has always been a singular and independently-minded film-maker. Many of his films engage in the exploration of the human spirit. Almost all reveal a man with a political and social conscience.

“When John settled in Ireland in the 1970's, he was to become the rock on which the Irish film industry built its foundations. I would like to think that this Award from the Irish Film and Television Academy goes beyond recognising John's many wonderful achievements and also acknowledges the debt we all owe him.”

John Boorman’s other Irish titles (1998’s ‘The General’, a biopic of Irish crime lord Martin Cahill, and Boorman’s most recent release ‘The Tiger’s Tail’ (2006), a reflection of modern Ireland told through the unraveling life of an unscrupulous property developer) have seen Emmy winning Irish actor Brendan Gleeson appear in the lead role. This creative partnership between director and actor has resulted in Brendan Gleeson also appearing in ‘The Tailor of Panama’ (2001, alongside Pierce Brosnan), and Boorman’s South African political drama ‘In My Country’ (2005).

Brendan Gleeson, who is also an IFTA nominee this year for his role in Thaddeus O’Sullivan’s ‘Into the Storm’ will lead the Lifetime Achievement tributes to Mr. Boorman on the night of the IFTA ceremony. He was quick to pay tribute to his fellow filmmaker, stating: “John Boorman has been at the centre of film-making in Ireland since he settled here forty years ago. He has been instigator, practitioner, mentor, producer, writer, director, artist and artisan for all of that time, gracing us with his vision and humanity. What a generous life he is living. What an honour to celebrate him.”

’The General’ co-star Adrian Dunbar echoed Brendan’s sentiments, saying: “At times when film making seemed an uncared for art-form in Ireland John Boorman’s presence among us, his initiatives and encouragements, kept the fire lit and I hope this Award might in some small way make up for those days of rain on Excalibur and show the huge respect and love that I and my fellow actors have for him."

Acclaim came from Mr Boorman’s long-time friend, actor John Hurt (V for Vendetta) who commented that: “John has been extremely active in the Irish film industry at home and a formidable ambassador on its behalf abroad. This will be a huge and genuine celebration and as luck, or perhaps judgement would have it, there is nowhere better than Dublin for such an occasion!"

John Boorman is currently working with ‘X-Men’ producer Bryan Singer on a re-make of ‘Excalibur’, a new animated adaptation of ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’ and work is continuing on his ten year pet project ‘Memoirs of Hadrian’, an adaptation of Marguerite Yourcenar's bestseller which follows the life of the infamous Roman Emperor of the same name.

To mark his Lifetime Achievement Award, Mr. Boorman will be joined at the IFTA 2010 ceremony on 20 February in Dublin’s Burlington Hotel by family, friends and colleagues from the world of film and television.

Simon Perry, chief executive of Bord Scannán na hÉireann/Irish Film Board has also lauded John Boorman's work, saying: “John Boorman’s work has always been distinctive for its extraordinarily muscular use of film combined with a fearless embrace of mythical and magical stories – and if you want to see two of the finest films ever made about America, you need look no further than 'Point Blank' and 'Deliverance.”

Chief executive of Adrmore Studios, Kevin Moriarty praised the choice of John Boorman as the recipient of the lifetime achievement award, commenting: “John Boorman put his filmmaking expertise and international credibility at the disposal of Ardmore Studios and the Irish Film Industry in the 70’s and played a pivotal role in the development of both. He has provided consistent support ever since and fully deserves this award.”

On hearing about his IFTA 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award receipt, Mr. Boorman acknowledged the work of his Irish colleagues, saying: “This [award] is a tribute to all the Irish actors and crews who have made my films for me.”

The 7TH Annual Irish Film & Television Awards will take place at the Burlington Hotel, Dublin on Saturday, February 20th and will be broadcast live on the night.

More at www.ifta.ie


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