Buoyed by the number of Oscar nominations for Irish films and actors ahead of this year’s awards, the industry is hoping the international spotlight will drive further investment in the sector.
The nomination of An Cailín Ciúin in the International Film category is seen as further vindication of the Cine4 initiative, to develop and produce work in Irish.
The scheme is a joint effort involving Screen Ireland, the Broadcasting Authority and TG4.
Even before yesterday’s announcement, the film had been feted here and around the world.
It has taken in over €1 million at the box office and has brought in a range of awards at festivals in Europe, the US and Australia.
These achievements are considered all the more relevant, given the relatively low budget involved, when compared with some other movies vying for a golden statuette, in the same category.
TG4 Director General Alan Esslemont said the latest recognition is a source of huge pride for Irish speakers, as well as for those who understand the importance of a thriving language for the country’s culture and creativity.
He speaks of a road opening up for these types of productions and remarks that the Cine4 scheme has not only promoted work though Irish but also driven a new wave of cinema here.
That is manifested by a shift in audience perceptions too. The growth of streaming services and the availability of international content has demystified the notion of non-English language movies.
Subtitled work is no longer the preserve of late night screenings for small crowds; it has become the norm, breaking invisible boundaries that previously seemed to discourage viewers.
It is felt the impact of the nominations will extend beyond the film sector and feed into the wider Western economy as well.
Earlier this month, when The Banshees of Inisherin took three Golden Globes, hospitality providers in Achill reported an increase in interest from international tourists.
Plans are well advanced to further showcase the breathtaking locations which feature in the movie there, with a film trail and dedicated signage in the works.
Locals are mindful of the need to safeguard the landscape that first attracted location directors to Achill, but say a sustainable approach can result in an economic benefit, without any environmental sacrifice.
The extent to which the attention translates into a longer-term boost will become clearer in the coming months, as some of the traditional industry events have their 2023 iterations.
‘Where art and commerce intersect’
In the west, the first week in July is synonymous with the Galway Film Fleadh.
It features the annual Film Fair, where production companies, directors, investors and buyers mingle to discuss the latest trends and – crucially – plan their schedules for the years ahead.
It’s the only event in Ireland that brings film and television producers face to face with established and emerging talent.
“A place where art and commerce intersect”, according to the Fleadh’s Chief Executive Miriam Allen.
She described the Oscar nominations as “absolutely historic” for the Irish cinema industry, putting it firmly at the centre of the world stage.
Ms Allen says this is a dream scenario, which will not go unnoticed by those wanting to invest in new work.
“A lot of talent scouting goes on at the Fair and I’d expect that there’ll be a surge in interest as a direct result of these nominations.”
And she’s particularly excited about the potential benefits that could accrue in the west, with a mix of language and location drawing the attention of the global film sector right now.
The region has already been recognised in this regard, with the designation of Galway as a UNESCO City of Film, a decade ago.
Ms Allen says there’s a good training system and production infrastructure in place but it’s important to ensure that there’s not a scarcity of available crews to facilitate future shoots.
Overall, the successes bode well for Ireland’s film industry.
As well as an awareness that the efforts over previous decades set the scene, there are basics at play here too.
Above all else, maybe they’re what this golden time signifies: A good story, told well, in any language, will always resonate.
The film sector here is hoping old habits will bring more new glories in the years ahead.