22 February 2024 The Irish Film & Television Network
IFTA Honorary Award for President Higgins
2014/03/29 23:30:00 :
President Michael D. Higgins to Receive Honorary Award for Outstanding Contribution to Industry
Michael D. Higgins to Receive Outstanding Contribution Honorary Award at IFTA Ceremony

The Irish Film & Television Academy has announced that President Michael D. Higgins is to receive an Honorary Award in recognition of his Outstanding Contribution to the Irish Film & Television Industry to be presented at the IFTA Awards Ceremony in Dublin on Saturday 5th April.

The 2014 IFTA Ceremony will host a gathering of the Irish home industry, coming together to give due recognition to Irish creative talent and Irish Excellence working both at home and internationally across film and television. Guests will include Neil Jordan, Jim Sheridan, Steve Coogan, Will Forte, Jeremy Irons, Jack Huston, Colm Meaney, nominees include Saoirse Ronan, Michael Fassbender, Jamie Dornan, Eva Birthistle, Colin Farrell, Andrew Scott, Amy Huberman, Liam Cunningham, Fionnula Flanagan, Brendan Gleeson, Victoria Smurfit, Tom Vaughan Lawlor, Domhnall Gleeson and Deirdre O’Kane.

The industry will pay tribute to the contribution that President Higgins has made to the Irish industry.

Aine Moriarty, Academy Chief Executive, stated that: “This industry has worked hard and grown from strength to strength delivering world-class standards of Screen production and the Academy is proud to pay tribute to President Higgins who has shown the Irish industry unwavering support over many years as a creative artist in his own right, as the Minister for Arts, a dynamic leader and as President of Ireland.”

With his vision and immense commitment to the Arts he transformed the industry through a range of initiatives from tax incentives to training and the re-establishment of the Irish Film Board, ultimately encouraging investment and creating thousands of jobs.

Michael D Higgins was Ireland’s first Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (1993-1997). During and since that time he was instrumental to the introduction by the Irish Government of key measures that laid the foundation for Ireland’s film and television industry to develop both creatively and economically. These measures included tax Incentives; the reconstruction of the Irish Film Board as a dedicated agency to assist Irish film making; the establishment TG4 (Irish-language broadcaster); the abolition of the controversial Section 31 of the Broadcasting Act; the introduction of a Broadcasting Act amendment ensuring a portion of the national broadcaster’s licence fee is allocated to independently produced Irish programmes; training initiatives and other support structures.

James Hickey, Chief Executive, Bord Scannan na hEireann/ the Irish Film Board: "President Higgins showed extraordinary vision when he introduced groundbreaking changes to the Irish film industry as the first Irish Minister for Culture in 1993. These changes included the re-establishment of the Irish Film Board as an independent agency to invest in and develop Irish creative filmmaking talent. They also included major enhancements to the film and television tax incentive and a minimum spend requirement from RTE on independent TV production, all of which empowered the independent film, TV and animation production sector. This three-pronged strategy enabled Irish film talent to flourish over the last 20 years and the development of a creative industry that Ireland can now be rightly proud of. "

In 1994 Braveheart was the first blockbuster film to use Ireland as a location under the new tax incentives (now Section 481 and then 35). Minister Higgins was a direct influence on this decision, encouraging Gibson to choose Ireland as his location along with Irish crew and talent, even the Irish Army Reserve were called upon for extras in the battle scenes. His efforts and foresight paid off as ultimately Braveheart went on to win five Oscars including Best Film and set the standard and trend for major studios to film in Ireland in the years that followed, providing the ultimate training ground for many of the now leading Irish filmmakers and craftspeople.

Morgan O’Sullivan, who was the Irish producer on Braveheart said, “The vision shown by Michael D Higgins in the innovative yet practical measures he put in place – not only the re-establishment of the Irish Film Board and introduction of successful tax-based incentives for film investment but also the establishment of TG4, the support for independent film producers; and, for the first time ever, funding for training in the film and audiovisual industry introduced a new generation to the possibility of a career in film. Films such as Braveheart and Saving Private Ryan, often secured through direct representation from Michael D. himself in Los Angeles or London, brought tens of millions into Ireland. Congratulations on this well deserved honorary award for an outstanding contribution to the Film & Television industry".

Since that time many major international productions have brought large scale investment to Ireland from Saving Private Ryan to The Tudors to Vikings, Ripper Street and Penny Dreadful to name but a few. The Irish industry currently employs around 6,000 professionals and has an annual turnover of €550 million and the independent film, television drama and animation industries delivered €168 Million into the Irish economy last year alone.

The IFTA Ceremony takes place at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel on Saturday 5th April. The ceremony will be broadcast on RTÉ One at 9.35pm that evening, available on RTÉ Player and on the IFTA website in the days following the ceremony.

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