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Martin Scorsese makes virtual appearance as Liam Neeson film scoops top award at the IFTAs

Black ’47, Rialto and Black Mirror were also among the awards at the IFTAs last night.

The winners of the 2020 IFTA Awards were revealed at a virtual ceremony hosted by Deirdre O'Kane
The winners of the 2020 IFTA Awards were revealed at a virtual ceremony hosted by Deirdre O'Kane
Image: PIPPictures

IT WAS A mostly virtual affair at this year’s Irish Film and Television Academy (IFTA) awards last night.

Broadcast on Virgin Media One, it featured a number of high-profile stars from at home and abroad as a host of awards were dished out.

Legendary director Martin Scorsese made an appearance as he awarded the best film award for 2020 and 2019, given to Ordinary Love (starring Liam Neeson) and Black ’47, respectively.

Scorsese told the audience: “Little did we know what strange times lay ahead that we are witnessing now, and it appears to me that we are all having to reinvent cinema now, and that’s a good thing, it is.

“Because now, more than ever, we need the moving image. We need vision, creativity and storytelling that takes us on a journey and opens us, enlightens us, opens our hearts and our minds, and there’s something about Ireland and Irish storytelling that is universal that connects with everyone in the world. John Ford knew that, and I know that.”

Paddy Breathnach won best director for Rosie, a film examining the current homelessness crisis in Ireland through one family’s experience.

Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, meanwhile, won best actor in film for his role in Rialto, accepting the award from his living room with his wife and children.

There were two awards for Kerry native Jessie Buckley, as she won best actress in film for Wild Rose and best supporting actress drama for Chernobyl.

Andrew Scott won best actor in a drama for his tole in Black Mirror: Smithereens, and made a plea for the Irish arts during his speech.

He said: “Let’s keep the arts going in whatever way we can and try and support it whenever we feel it’s safe enough to do so. Because the arts are the most wonderful thing about our lives. And I’m so proud to be an Irish artist. So thank you and have a great night, people, wherever you are.”

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Aisling Franciosi won the Fís Éireann/Screen Ireland Rising Star Award for her standout performance in The Nightingale, and said she was “really proud of the work and the talent coming out of Ireland. 

Niamh Algar, who won best supporting actress in film for Calm with Horses, praised the increased representation of women on screen as she accepted her award from Pierce Brosnan.

She said: “I got into acting because I wanted to bring representation to women on screen. And every female actress here tonight is doing that. And it makes me incredibly proud to be an Irish actress so thank you very much IFTA.”

After a landmark year, Normal People stars Paul Mescal and Daisy Edgar-Jones also made an appearance as they presented awards for best short film and best animated short.

Liam Neeson had a special message for the cinema community, saying: “Many industries have been hurt, especially the film industry, but we will get through it; we must get through it.

As a famous politician once said, ‘when you’re going through hell, keep going’. To all our film-makers, young actors and actresses try and stay strong, stay creative. The work will come back again, and tonight we are going to celebrate how cool and how great a film industry we have in Ireland.

About the author:

Sean Murray

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