5 December 2023 The Irish Film & Television Network

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12 finalists announced for Virgin Media Discovers 2023
26 Jul 2023 : News Desk
Virgin Media Discovers
Virgin Media Discovers, in partnership with Fís Eireann/Screen Ireland, has announced the 12 finalists for this year’s funding initiative.

Discovers is a competition that helps new and established filmmakers and content creators get their stories heard.

Shortlisted projects will be awarded mentorship and development funding to invest in their script. The panel of industry judges will select four winners, who will win between €35,000 and €50,000 to fund the production of their short film or documentary.

Screen Ireland and Virgin Media Ireland have invested €685,000 since 2019 in Discovers. To date, six filmmakers have been awarded funding to produce their short films, while a further 20 have been awarded development funds and mentorship to develop their projects, including Headspace, which was honoured at the Cork International Film Festival is now on the longlist for Academy Awards (Oscars) in 2024.

All six previous films from Discovers are available to watch on Virgin Media Player now for free.

The 12 shortlisted projects are:

Battle for Life (Drama) Writer/Director: Fiona Ashe (Louth) & Producer: Lana Turianska (Ukraine, currently residing in Ireland)

When Russia launches military strikes against Ukraine in February 2022, Saoirse and Cathal’s heavily-pregnant Ukrainian surrogate Lyudmyla is seriously injured in an airstrike. The twins are born prematurely — one needs emergency medical treatment, unavailable in Ukraine. Saoirse and Cathal try everything possible to get Lyudmyla and the twins to safety.  

Give us a F**king House (Drama) 

Writer/Director: Daragh Goan & Co-Writer: Ferdia MacAonghusa (Dublin)

Sophie and Alan try to find a space for themselves, to love and to live, in an increasingly inaccessible Dublin.  

Kiki (Drama)

Writer/Director: Naomi Sheridan & Producer: Lindsay Campbell (Dublin)

When four-year-old, Adamma and her father, Jide, seek refuge in an asylum centre in Ireland they are greeted by angry and potentially dangerous protestors, but things escalate further when Adamma ventures out into the neighbourhood alone in search of her missing cuddly toy, Kiki.

Never Kill a Femboy on the First Date (Drama) 

Writer: Lee-Loi Chieng (Kildare)

A crossdresser's one-night stand with an exhibitionist turns life-threatening when a group of voyeurs discover he's not a woman, forcing Mǐn to use his wit and charm to negotiate and survive.

Serve (Drama) 

Writer: Alexandra Conlon & Director: Cathy Dunne (Dublin)

When the unthinkable happens, can you ever truly find who you once were again? Former soldier Susie struggles to confront her traumatic past and the pressure to stay silent.

The Head on Him (Comedy/Drama)

Writer/Director: Seán Gallen & Producer: Ciara Gillan (Dublin)

A story about a mixed-race teenager, Jamie, living in ‘90s Tallaght, who cuts off his Afro to fit in only to find it grows back bigger (much, much bigger) than it was before, leading to bewildering challenges and a journey to self-acceptance.

We Could Not Survive Without Bees (Drama)

Writer/Director: Cathriona Slammon (Mayo) & Writer: Alan Markey (Louth)

When a new love interest seems to accept her unusual traits, a self-conscious woman who takes refuge in the world of plants and insects, is pushed to re-evaluate the body she hates so much and confront the surprising secret she’s been working so hard to hide.

Beyond our Identities (Factual)

Director/Producer: Rana Sawalha (Dublin, originally from Palestine/Jordan)

This documentary offers an authentic look into the lives of diverse women in the diaspora, exploring the notions of Irishness and Otherness. We meet women from various backgrounds and ages, as they open up about their personal experiences, challenges, and desires to find belonging in Ireland.

DIVA – The Rise of Gary Cully (Factual) 

Director: Gerard Walsh (Dublin) & Professional Boxer: Gary Cully

Follows the rise of one of Irelands most explosive talents in boxing that Ireland has seen in the past decade, as he overcomes adversity with a level head and humility, we will see how influential Gary Cully can be for the country and athletes in the future.

From Rio to Rathmines - The Brazilian Story (Factual)

Producer: Barry Gibbons & Director: Luana Matos (Dublin)

Following the lives, lows and loves of Ireland’s Brazilian community as they overcome adversity and find their feet in their new home.

Pregnant with a Drag Queen (Factual) 

Director: Colin Brady & Producer: Steven Sheehy (Kildare & Dublin)

The story of how a queer kid in 1990’s Dublin discovers their true identity and inner strength when they give birth to Veda, a vibrant drag queen icon. Through laughter and self-discovery, their inspirational journey shows how drag doesn’t change who you are, it reveals who you are.

Sex Buyers Anonymous (Factual) 

Director: Mark Logan & Producer: Bettine McMahon (Dublin)

What drives men’s behaviour and desire to pay for sex? If there are a thousand women selling sex there are one hundred thousand men buying it. This documentary asks the question: “Why do men buy sex?”

The four selected winners will be decided by a judging panel that includes IFTA-winning Irish director Aisling Walsh (Maudie), cinematographer Kate McCullough (Oscar nominated film An Cailín Ciúin), Dublin International Film Festival director Grainne Humphreys, IFTA-winning documentary filmmaker Ross Whitaker (Katie), Showrunner and creator of Kin Peter McKenna, and Virgin Media Television’s Channels Strategy Lead Anthony Nilan.

Speaking about the 2023 edition of the Virgin Media Discovers, Kate McCullough said: “I'm excited at the prospect of discovering new, authentic and diverse filmmakers as part of the Virgin Media Discovers Award.”

Andrew Byrne, Head of Television at Fís Éireann/Screen Ireland added: “Screen Ireland is delighted to continue its support for the bold and diverse collection of projects selected as finalists for this year’s Virgin Media Discovers competition, in association with Screen Ireland. Investing in new and emerging talent, building careers, and reaching wider audiences make up the heart of this film scheme – and we’re looking forward to seeing what new voices and stories can emerge from it.”

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