An Cailín Ciúin strikes Belfast in ‘watershed moment for Irish language cinema’

Colm Bairéad’s An Cailín Ciúin, an Irish language adaptation of Claire Keegan’s story Foster, has beaten Belfast, Kenneth Branagh’s multiple Oscar nominee for Best Picture at the Irish Film and Television Academy Awards (Ifta). Bairéad was awarded Best Director and Best Screenplay.

Catherine Clinch, just 12 years old, picked up best actress for her performance in An Cailín Ciúin as an introverted girl who learns life lessons while living with relatives in the country.

Cleona Ní Chrualaoi, the producer, accepted the best picture award at the virtual ceremony on Virgin Media One and seemed genuinely moved. “I think this is a game changer for Irish language cinema and we’re just so proud to be a part of it,” she said. In a final run, the film also won for camera, editing, production design and original music.

No other film even came close to matching its seven wins (and that doesn’t include Bairéad’s win in the Climbing Category). Clinch’s mother, singer Méav Ní Mhaolchatha, posed in front of the camera to support the young actor. “Catherine said there was no way she was going to win,” said Ní Mhaolchatha. “So she didn’t prepare anything because that would look cocky and there was no way. So thank you!”

It’s a remarkable achievement for the team behind An Cailín Ciúin. Belfast, nominated for seven Oscars at the forthcoming ceremony, has been at the forefront of awards since its triumphant premiere at the Telluride Film Festival in September.

But An Cailín Ciúin’s victory was not entirely unexpected. Last month Bairéad’s film was hailed as the first Irish language feature film to screen at the Berlin Film Festival.

It was recently awarded Best Irish Film by the Dublin Film Critics Circle jury at the Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival. Support for Ní Chrualaoi’s claims of a “watershed moment” in Irish-language cinema came with simultaneous news that Rachael Moriarty and Peter Murphy’s Róise & Frank, a delightful comedy about a widow and a stray dog, had won the Audience Award at the prestigious Santa Barbara International Film Festival in California.

Belfast did not go home empty-handed. Branagh won Best Screenplay. Ciarán Hinds chose Best Supporting Actor for his role as the young protagonist’s grandfather. He accepted the award from “a car in the back streets of London,” explained the veteran actor, who grew up in Belfast, praising his director.

“As much as it was the story of Ken’s childhood, it was also the story of my childhood and the people I knew and the community and the wonderful, tongue-in-cheek humorous, stoic people of the north of Ireland,” he said.

The busy, popular Moe Dunford chose Best Actor for his role as the crook driving around Dublin in Stephen Fingleton’s one-shot Nightride.

Current Oscar nominee Jessie Buckley won Best Supporting Actress for her role as a molested young mother in The Prodigal Daughter. “Thank you, that’s so nice,” Buckley said. “Thank you Ifta. It is not mine. It belongs to all of us.”

On the same evening, the Ifta presents the awards for film and for TV drama. Outlier in the television sector with six statuettes was the crime series Kin. Sam Keeley, Clare Dunne, Ciarán Hinds and Maria Doyle-Kennedy all won acting awards for the show.

As competing awards shows like the Oscars and the Baftas return to the big stage this weekend, the Irish Academy stuck with a virtual event. Comedian Deirdre O’Kane, a successful presenter in previous years, returned as host. An impressive array of A-list stars beamed in to present the awards to distant winners. Chris Pine, the youngest Captain Kirk in Star Trek, was on screen to announce best picture.

“I’ve had the pleasure of spending time in Galway, the Aran Islands and Dublin, and more recently I’ve had the good fortune to do some filming in Antrim,” he remarked. Michael Moore, Oscar-winning director of Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11, was on hand to present the George Morrison Documentary Award to Young Plato. Colin Farrell presented Buckley with Best Supporting Actress. Actress Fionnula Flanagan was among those who acknowledged the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

“To the writers, the artists, the actors, the directors, the producers and everyone involved in film and theater production in Ukraine… our hearts go out to you,” she said. “We admire your courage … and we hope that one day you will have a peaceful future soon.”

The 2022 Ifta Awards for TV Drama and Film

film categories

Best movie: A Cailín Ciúin
directed film: Colm Bairéad – An Cailín Ciúin
Script film: Kenneth Branagh-Belfast
Main Actor Movie: Moe Dunford – Night Drive
Movie Leading Actress: Catherine Clinch – A Cailín Ciúin
Supporting Actor Movie: Ciaran Hinds – Belfast
Supporting Actress Movie: Jessie Buckley – The Prodigal Daughter
Feature Documentary: The young Plato
Short film (live action): Nothing to declare
Short film (animation): Fall of the Ibis King

Categories of TV dramas

Best Drama: relationship
Director drama: Hannah Quinn – Vikings: Valhalla
Screenplay Drama: Peter McKenna-Kin
Lead Actor Drama: Sam Keeley-Kin
Lead Actress Drama: Clare Dunne-Kin
Supporting Actor Drama: Ciarán Hinds – Kin
Supporting Actress Drama: Maria Doyle-Kennedy-Kin


Rising Star: Colm Bairead

crafting categories

Cinematography: Kate McCullough – A Cailín Ciúin
Costume Design: Kathy Strachan – Fatal Cuts
Hair & Makeup: Eileen Buggy, Audrey Doyle & Barrie Gower – The Green Knight
Editing: John Murphy – A Cailín Ciúin
Product design: Emma Lowney – A Cailín Ciúin
Sound: Steve Fanagan – Swan Song
original score: Stephen Rennicks – A Cailín Ciúin
Visual effects: Kevin Cahill and Eric Saind

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