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IFTA Awards Focus: Best Director Film
20 May 2015 : Seán Brosnan
Lenny Abrahamson is nominated alongside Gerard Barrett, John Carney and Terry McMahon
The IFTA Awards are only four days away (Sunday May 24) and we continue our coverage by taking a look at the four men nominated for Best Director in a Film this year.

The nominees are Lenny Abrahamson (‘Frank’), Gerard Barrett (‘Glassland’), John Carney (‘Begin Again’) and Terry McMahon (‘Patrick’s Day’).

With a very impressive IFTA pedigree that has seen him win four IFTA Awards (out of four nominations - never losing), Lenny Abrahamson will be hoping to extend that run this year for ‘Frank’.

Starring Michael Fassbender and Domhnall Gleeson, ‘Frank’ tells the story of a wannabe musician who desperately wants to be a successful musician. By chance, he becomes a member of eccentric band ‘Soronprfbs’, and from then on is determined to find out more about the band’s energetic, mysterious leader, Frank.

‘Frank’ has been nominated for nine IFTA Awards (tying with ‘Patrick’s Day’ for the most nominations this year) and has been hailed by critics. Rolling Stone praised Abrahamson’s direction saying “Director Lenny Abrahamson knows his way around eccentrics and he makes an ideal guide into a bizarro world where music is made on the margins.” The movie has also been labelled as a “whimsical delight” by The New York Post.

Abrahamson has previously won IFTA’s for ‘Adam & Paul’, ‘Garage’, ‘Prosperity’ and ‘What Richard Did’. His next film ‘Room’, an adaptation of Emma Donohue’s book of the same name, is currently in post-production and stars Brie Larson and William H. Macy.

Receiving his first IFTA nomination this year for Best Director, Gerard Barrett’s ‘Glassland’, his follow-up to his debut film ‘Pilgrim Hill’ (which won Barrett an IFTA Rising Star Award in 2013) has been widely acclaimed.

Starring Jack Reynor, Will Poulter and Toni Collette, the film tells the story of a young taxi driver who gets pulled into crime as he attempts to save his mother from alcoholism.

Carlos Aguilar of Indiewire has labelled the film as a “directorial triumph” while The Irish Times called the film “superb”. The film received its’ premiere last year at the Galway Film Fleadh, winning the Best Irish Feature Award (along with ‘Patrick’s Day). It then screened earlier this year at Sundance to a very positive critical reception before being released to cinemas in Ireland and the UK.

Barrett’s script for the film was also recognised this year while the movie has been nominated for six IFTA Awards in total, including Best Film.

On the slate for Barrett is ‘Brain on Fire’ (which he will write and direct) which will star Dakota Fanning and Oscar-winner Charlize Theron, with the latter also producing. Barrett has also stated that he will work in the future with Leonardo DiCaprio in adapting the award-winning Irish novel ‘The Undertaking’.

Also nominated this year for musical drama ‘Begin Again’ is John Carney.

‘Begin Again’ stars Keira Knightly and Mark Ruffalo and follows a singer-songwriter who is discovered by a struggling record label executive and collaborates with him to produce an album recorded in public locations all over New York City.

Empire awarded the film four out of five stars, describing it as "lovely stuff, winningly played, open-hearted and guaranteed to slap on a smile on a balmy summer night." while The Hollywood Reporter praised the "disarming emotional candor and intimacy" of the film. The film went on to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song.

‘Begin Again’ represents Carney’s fourth IFTA nomination having previously been nominated for ‘Bachelor’s Walk’ and twice for ‘Zonad’ (Best Director and Best Script).

His next film entitled ‘Sing Street’ will star Aiden Gillen, Jack Reynor and Maria Doyle Kennedy and is currently in post-production.

Rounding out the list is Terry McMahon for his award-winning film ‘Patrick’s Day’.

‘Patrick’s Day’ has received nine nominations this year and follows Patrick, a 26 year old schizophrenic who falls in love with an alcoholic, suicidal air-hostess with the relationship they share transforming both of their lives. However, Patrick’s obsessive mother believes their misguided love is dangerous and so to pull them apart, enlists the help of a dysfunctional detective who will use his position to help her.

After a very successful festival run which saw it receive awards at festivals such as Galway, Cork, Woodstock and Michigan – ‘Patrick’s Day’ was released to Irish cinemas earlier this year earning praise from critics and mental health professionals such as Professor Ivor Browne.

The Irish Times have called the film “a fascinating collision of psychiatric drama and state-of-the nation address”.

Terry McMahon has also received a nomination for Best Script for writing the movie, which is also up for Best Film. McMahon previously received three IFTA nominations for writing, directing and producing ‘Charlie Casanova’.

McMahon’s next film is prison drama ‘Dancehall Bitch’ – which is part of a trilogy that includes ‘Charlie Casanova’ and ‘Patrick’s Day’.

The IFTA Film & Drama Awards takes place on Sunday, May 24 with TV3 airing a one hour special on the ceremony on Monday, June 1st.




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