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Limerick wins bid to host major film conference amid Irish Oscar buzz

Screen Ireland and the Minister for Tourism and Culture Catherine Martin have been on a trade mission to promote the Irish screen industry.

 Aoife Barry reports from LA.

IMG_7476 Minister Catherine Martin (second right) with Mayor of the City and County of Limerick, Cllr Francis Foley (right), and (L-R), Steven Davenport of Screen Ireland, Yvette Estrada of NBCUniversal Media, Désirée Finnegan, Chief Executive of Screen Ireland, and Susan Bergin of Screen Ireland.

LIMERICK CITY HAS won the bid to host a major film conference amid a trade mission to the US that aims to capitalise on Ireland’s Oscar buzz.

The announcement was made today in LA that the city had won the competitive bid to host the Cineposium conference. 

Over the past decade, Cineposium has taken place in the US, France, New Zealand, Spain, South Korea, Russia and Colombia. This is the first time in the organisation’s 46-year history that the conference will take place in Ireland.

The announcement was made by Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin, Fís Éireann/Screen Ireland, Innovate Limerick / Film in Limerick and the Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI).

In order to capitalise on the buzz around Irish film ahead of this weekend’s Oscars, Screen Ireland and Martin have been leading a trade mission to promote the Irish screen industry.

It’s understood they have meetings with major studios, including Disney and Marvel to impress on them all that Ireland has to offer in terms of crew, skills, talent and location. 

Martin met with the executive director of the AFCI, Jaclyn Philpott, along with Yvette Estrada from NBC Universal, one of the major studios who sit on the advisory board of the organisation, and which filmed Cocaine Bear in Ireland last year.

Martin said that Cineposium “is an excellent opportunity to build on the current wave of success that is happening across the screen industry, and to further strengthen our partnerships with international production companies and studios around the world”.

“Being able to showcase Ireland as a global production hub is a fantastic way to drive more international production to all parts of the country, further developing skills and opportunities for Irish talent and our skilled crew base here.”

Showcasing Limerick

AFCI’s Cineposium event will take place in the last week of September 2023. It will bring film commissions and industry leaders from around the world together to discuss policy, economic development and screen production.

It’s hoped it will also serve as an opportunity to showcase Limerick and the west coast of Ireland to major studio executives.

That’s particularly important in a year where Achill Island was shown off in Banshees of Inisherin, which is up for nine Oscars in this year’s awards.

The location of Limerick is significant as Screen Ireland recently announced the establishment of a new fund to support regional activity. It ring-fenced €3.5 million from the agency’s budget for the fund, which is focused on developing crew resource and skills all around the country. The fund will require commitments in the areas of Diversity and Inclusion, sustainable production and on-set initiatives.

Jaclyn Philpott, executive director of the AFCI, told The Journal: “One of the reasons why we’re so excited about Cineposium being in Limerick City this year is we understand the depth and breadth of the skill base in Ireland, and we understand the depth and breadth of the infrastructure and studio space available. And we really want people the studio executives and Hollywood and big production players to really understand the opportunity that exists in Ireland.”

Of the bidding process, though she wasn’t able to vote on the decision, she added: “One of the things that got Limerick and Ireland over the line was not only did they present the pitch in a completely beautiful way, but they really showcased how they were going to collaborate with Screen Ireland, with Limerick, with the rest of the region.” 

Paul C Ryan, regional film manager at Innovate Limerick/Film in Limerick said that working with Screen Ireland, they have “ambitious plans for the development of the sector in the Mid-West”.

“As well as the infrastructure, crew base and tax incentives, we are blessed with stunning locations made for cinema. From the dramatic coastal areas of Clare to the rich Georgian heritage of Limerick City and the lush countryside and castles in Tipperary, the Mid-West and regions have so much to offer.”

He described winning the bid as a “wonderful opportunity to showcase these regions as the perfect locations for film and TV production”. 

Désirée Finnegan, chief executive of Fís Éireann/Screen Ireland, described Limerick winning the bid as “a significant recognition of Ireland’s position as a world-class location for film production, both in terms of the range of talent and skilled crew and craftspeople available across the country, as well as our country’s renowned landscapes and diverse locations”.

Consistent investment in the film industry over decades has created incredible opportunities in terms of employment, skills development, local investment and the generation of cultural value and visionary storytelling.

The news was described as “brilliant” by Mayor of the City and County of Limerick Councillor, Francis Foley. He said it “once again shows that Limerick is a home for film, a home for innovation and a vibrant place where massive organisations can collaborate on projects such as these.”

There are “ambitious plans” for the development of the film sector in the west, Ryan said.

He highlighted the “dramatic coastal areas of Clare” as well as the “rich Georgian heritage of Limerick City and the lush countryside and castles in Tipperary”.

Film in Limerick is a project of Innovate Limerick, set up to develop the sector. Limerick is also home to the largest studio in Ireland, Troy Studios. That, combined with the tax incentive and added regional funding available, makes it an attractive location for productions, Screen Ireland noted. 

Cineposium 2023 will take place in the last week of September and further information about Cineposium sessions, speakers and early registration will be announced shortly.

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