24 June 2024 The Irish Film & Television Network
Directors Colm Bairéad, Kate Dolan, and Rioghnach Ní Ghrioghair win Aer Lingus Discovery Award
28 Feb 2022 : News Desk
Kate Dolan, Colm Bairéad, and Rioghnach Ní Ghrioghair.
At a special awards event on Sunday, the VMDIFF announced the recipients of a selection of their awards for the festival’s 20th edition.

These award categories included the Aer Lingus Discovery Award, Short Film and Documentary category winners, as well as the Irish Council of Civil Liberties (ICCL) Human Rights Film Award. 

Aer Lingus Discovery Award

The Irish film industry has never been busier. Productions both large and small are reaching wider audiences, and there is an abundance of talent working in the film sector today. Celebrating our thriving industry, the Aer Lingus Discovery Awards aim to identify, champion, support and encourage new and emerging talent from both in front and behind the camera.

This year’s award recipients were directors Colm Bairéad, Kate Dolan, and Rioghnach Ní Ghrioghair.

The judging panel was comprised of Jimmy Fay Executive Producer / Artistic Director of Lyric Theatre, director Neasa Harriman, Kelly O’Connor Head of Cultural Affairs at the Embassy of Ireland in London, producer Jane Doolan, and producer Conor Barry. 

Commenting on the winners, the judges said: “All of this year's nominees delivered consistently high-quality work in this year’s Aer Lingus Discovery section, however it was a unanimous decision for the jury regarding the three standouts we chose.

“Colm Bairéad’s debut feature An Cailín Ciúin, is a masterful character study that has rightly won international recognition is putting Irish cinema on the map in a unique and individual way, using our native language to tell stories with sensitivity and cinematic craft that moved us all,” the judges said of Bairéad’s work.  

“Kate Dolan has amassed an impressive body of work over the last years. You Are Not My Mother is her debut feature. Hers is a clear, coherent artistic voice and it is important that we encourage and celebrate this clear-eyed original voice in Irish cinema.”

“Viewing Rioghnach Ní Ghrioghair’s shorts, her progression as a film maker was evident through each film we viewed, culminating in Don’t Go Where I Can’t Find You - an extremely assured distinctive authored film, indicating a bright writing directing future ahead.”

The judging panel gave special mentions to Jade Jordan (actress),  Ellen Kirk (production design), John Cutler (editing) and Dean Murray (sound). “All of whose combined talents contributed to the mesmerising work of the three directors we chose,” they concluded.

Short Film Awards

The Short Film awards, judged by screenwriter Kevin Lehane and director/editor Emer Reynolds went to a diverse selection of titles. Noting that the selection was “outstanding and many of them could be argued to deserve a special mention,” the judges said. “We were bowled over by the talent and craft on display from live-action, documentary, and animation. Ireland’s film scene is in fine fettle.”

An Encounter was named as Best Irish Short, with the judges calling it a “stunning, moving, and beautiful work; so evocative and poetic, with incredible performances from its young leads, and one which heralds the beginning of a great directing talent in Kelly Campbell.”

Special mention went to Rioghnach Ní Ghrioghair’s “stylish, original, and deeply atmospheric” Don't Go Where I Can't Find You (Rioghnach was also named as one of the Aer Lingus Discovery Award winners). 

Best International Short went to Turkish director Can Merdan Dogan for Stiletto - A Pink Family Tragedy, which they described as a “brave, deeply moving, surprising and genuinely thrilling look at how profound and unexpected change is possible.”  Special Mentions went to Eliane Esther Bots for In Flow Of Words (Netherlands), her “intimate, shocking, thought-provoking and important piece about the horrors of war, and its silent witnesses,” and Sarah Arnold for Store Policy (France) “for her experimental, challenging, and stylish takedown of capitalism and patriarchy”.

Documentary Award

The jury for the Documentary section were Tanya Doyle, Programme Director of the BA in Film & TV Production, Griffith College, Rubén López Pulido, Director Spanish Tourism Office in Ireland and Jake Garriock, Head of Distribution Strategy and Group Publicity at Curzon.

Bianca Stigter’s powerful testament to life before the Holocaust, Three Minutes, A Lengthening (Netherlands) was awarded Best Documentary. The jury praised director Bianca Stigter “for the magnetic visual treatment of the images of the 1938 found footage of David Kurtz by his grandchild Glenn Kurtz and for the resonating implications of the testimonies of the survivors during the film, all of them made off camera with an impacting voice over, bringing back to life the lost voices of a lost community in Poland during WWII”.

Special Mention was given to Luke McManus for North Circular: “the perfect fusion of images, voices and music of North Circular Road in Dublin, from Phoenix Park to the banks of the Liffey, a legendary artery of Dublin’s body not for faint hearted and a very challenging environment over the years: a real almanac of what Ireland’s history is made of: barracks, prisons, cemeteries, hospitals, stadiums and asylums, but music too: and lives and hopes and joy all along the film. All presented in the most exquisite visual and resounding manner.”

ICCL Human Rights Award

Selected by a six-strong jury chaired by disability and LGBTQ+ rights activist Suzy Byrne, joined by former journalist Vincent Browne, citizenship rights activist Emma de Souza, founder and managing director of First Music Contact Angela Doran, and filmmakers Paul Rice and Liam Montgomery. The ICCL Human Rights Award was awarded to documentary Young Plato directed by Neasa Ní Chianáin and Declan McGrath. Special mention went to Blerta Basholli’s Sundance triple award winner Hive.

Young Plato tells the story of maverick headmaster Kevin McArevey in Belfast’s Ardoyne area, who uses the wisdoms of Ancient Greek philosophers to rethink conflict and social change. Based on a true story and set against the backdrop of Eastern Europe’s civil unrest and lingering misogyny, Hive is an incisive, devastating portrait of loss and our uphill journeys to freedom. 

The jury “loved the focus of the power of education of Young Plato as well as how timely it was in the context of Brexit as people’s lives and rights are once again affected by the geopolitical context.” And with war breaking out in Europe, the jury reflected “on how important it is to tell the story of the impact of war on women and those who are left behind” as depicted in Hive”.

The 20th anniversary Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival continues its celebration of Irish and world cinema until March 6th with a packed programme of in cinema screenings, Q&As, industry events alongside a selection of films also available online. Tickets are available here: www.diff.ie.

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