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James Hickey Welcomes Recent Debate on Irish Film and Speaks about his Optimism for the future of the Industry
24 Sep 2014 : Seán Brosnan
James Hickey, Chief Executive of the Irish Film Board has spoken to IFTN with regard to his thoughts on the sector.

Whilst welcoming any healthy debate on the Irish Film industry, Mr Hickey disagrees with the ‘Calvary’ director about Irish movies being not ‘technically accomplished’ or ‘intelligent’, citing the many successful films made by Irish filmmakers over the past 20 years, and speaks about his optimism for the future of Irish cinema.

Hickey said: ‘Over the last week the comments of director John Michael McDonagh have sparked a heated and interesting debate about the current state of the Irish film industry, a debate which is healthy for the industry and to be welcomed. I have already commented on ‘Calvary’ which is a very successful Irish film, telling an exciting and challenging Irish story with Irish creative talent in front of and behind the camera’.

         Calvary, which netted 1.6 million at the Irish box office and won 3 IFTA Awards, has a predominantly Irish cast (Brendan Gleeson, Chris O’ Dowd, Domhnall Gleeson, David Wilmot and Aiden Gillen amongst others) and crew and benefitted from almost 1 million euro from the Irish Film Board. McDonagh raised the ire of many in the Irish Film industry and the media when he claimed that ‘Calvary’ is not an Irish film, instead stating that he must convince people that the dark drama is ‘not terrible like other Irish films’ in order to gain an audience.

‘John Michael McDonagh is entitled to his opinion on Irish film. The role of the Irish Film Board is to invest in the development of Irish talent in front of and behind the camera and to ensure that Irish audiences have the opportunity to see Irish stories on film. I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to work with the wonderful creative talent working in the sector and I would not agree with John Michael McDonagh's comments on Irish film’.

Hickey goes on to state that he is very proud of the body of work that the Irish Film Board has contributed to over the past 20 years singling out movies like ‘What Richard Did', ‘The Secret of Kells', ‘Pilgrim Hill', ‘Adam & Paul' ‘The Hardy Bucks Movie', ‘Good Vibrations', ‘The Summit', ‘The Stag', ‘Rough Rider', ‘His and Hers', and ‘Garage’.

‘These films have been enjoyed by Irish audiences and have been recognised across the globe for their excellent work.  I'm also proud that Irish actors, who have established themselves internationally such as Brendan Gleeson, Colin Farrell, Saoirse Ronan, Cillian Murphy, Domhnall Gleeson, Jack Reynor and many more have gone on to represent Ireland in major international films.’

The Chief Executive also highlighted the eclectic nature of what the Irish film industry has to offer saying that many children, because of IFB’s investment, will be looking at such animated movies like Oscar nominated ‘The Secret of Kells’ and ‘Song of the Sea’ for many years to come. He also offered his opinions on the future of Irish cinema, a future that he feels will be extremely bright.

"I am very optimistic about the future of the Irish film industry. I am looking forward to seeing what filmmakers such as Lenny Abrahamson, Ken Wardrop, John Butler, John Carney and Tomm Moore amongst many other directors make next. I'm looking forward to seeing the work of Irish actors including Saoirse Ronan, Domhnall Gleeson and Colin Farrell in the Irish films they made this year. And I'm looking forward to Irish audiences having the opportunity to see upcoming Irish films including ‘Brooklyn' directed by John Crowley with Saoirse Ronan and Domhnall Gleeson, ‘Glassland' directed by Gerard Barrett starring Jack Reynor, and Tomm Moore's ‘Song of the Sea’. 

‘I believe in the importance of a national cinema, the opportunity for Irish filmmakers to make Irish stories on film and I believe the future for Irish film is bright.’

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