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Derek Ugochukwu, writer/director; Eva Birthistle, writer/actor; Désirée Finnegan, Chief Executive, Screen Ireland and Charlene McKenna, actor. Julien Behal
Irish Film

Growth and impact of Irish film highlighted as Screen Ireland unveils its slate for 2023

Director John Carney and actors Charlene McKenna, Eve Hewson and Eva Birthistle were among the talent at today’s event.

ONE WEEK AFTER Ireland’s stellar performance in the Oscar nominations, we got a look at what’s promised for the big and small screen for 2023 from the Screen Ireland-funded stable.

Fís Éireann/Screen Ireland, the national agency for the Irish film, television drama, animation, and documentary industry, funds filmmakers in their quest to make new shorts, shows and features. Today, it launched its slate of productions that are coming to audiences and international markets this year.

The event was also an opportunity to take stock of the industry’s production figures for 2022, and to announce some new initiatives that are being rolled out to support the industry in 2023.

Flora and Son

Guests at the event included director John Carney and Eve Hewson, who worked together on the forthcoming Flora and Son, which has been attracting great reviews at the Sundance film festival. Following on from Carney’s hugely successful previous films, including Oscar-winning Once and Sing Street, Flora and Son looks set to be another hit for the filmmaker – especially now that it has been picked up for distribution by Apple TV.

Carney told The Journal that the film should be on Apple TV later this year, following a theatrical release.

“I’m delighted. All I want is as many people to see the film as possible,” he said about the deal.

Particularly for the actors, who put so much work into it. It’s nice to actually have your work seen, and that’s the hardest thing to do – it’s very hard to break through the noise.

“It’s beautiful to see a small Island nation come up against the giant of Hollywood through years of seeding and financing talent,” he also commented. “To see our actors, directors, writers and producers accepted and celebrated overseas in numerous festivals, theatres, and awards, is a testament to arts funding, and would be next to impossible without support and cultivation of talent. In the film business particularly, be wary of anyone who tells you they’ve done it on their own. It’s an art form that is simply impossible without generous support.”

Hewson, meanwhile, told the audience during a Q&A that the Sundance reaction was “a dream”, and revealed she is still living at the family home while she pursues her acting career.

At the slate launch today, emerging writer/director Eva Birthistle discussed her debut feature film Kathleen, which begins production next month. Eva, who was awarded Development Funding for the project prior to it going into production, said:

“It’s an incredibly exciting time for Irish film. I’m thrilled to be part of Screen Ireland’s slate for 2023. Production is about to begin on my first feature film Kathleen. Only for Screen Ireland’s continued support over the last few years, my move from actor to director has been made possible, highlighting how critical it is for the industry that we have a national agency that can support talent through every stage of their career.”

Another beneficiary, writer/director Derek Ugochukwu (who was previously selected for Screen Ireland’s highly competitive Spotlight New Writing Scheme) spoke about his upcoming short film, Pediment. He’s due to start shooting this spring, and told The Journal: “Short films are the way you find your voice. I think that’s very, very important for first-time filmmakers – that’s what gave me the confidence [to keep going].” 

Charlene McKenna was also at today’s event, speaking about her role in forthcoming TV thriller Clean Sweep, which will premiere on RTÉ later this year.

She is also set to voice a role in animated feature film A Greyhound of a Girl, which is based on the short story from Roddy Doyle. This film will premiere at the Berlinale Film Festival next month, in the same slot that An Cailín Ciúin debuted in, McKenna said.

Growth and success

At last week’s Oscar nominations, Irish talent received a record 14 nominations. At today’s event, Screen Ireland said that projects it supported garnered over 150 awards and nominations throughout 2022.

The agency said that this high volume of recognition shows “the sustained growth, success and impact of the Irish screen industry on the international stage”.

Looking at this year’s slate of forthcoming films, documentary, TV drama and TV animation, there are 44 projects crossing different genres and audiences. Altogether there are nine feature films, three animation series, eight TV dramas, 13 documentaries and seven short films.

In the documentary stable will be Gar O’Rourke’s Ukraine-set Sanatorium, while upcoming animated TV series include new episodes of Atom Town, a STEM educational children’s series based on the Periodic Table.


According to Screen Ireland, production spend in the Irish economy hit a record high in 2021, particularly due to things cranking up again after the Covid lockdowns.

It recorded a spend of €361,487 million, which was driven by both Irish and international productions. This was an increase of €4 million from 2019.

When it came to skills training, 2022 saw a total of more than 3,500 skills development placements across Section 481 (the film tax credit) training, courses and other skills development initiatives, including mentorships and more.

It said that TV drama production activity has particularly increased in the last number of years, which Screen Ireland said was “driven by a number of [its] targeted supports”.

TV dramas coming in 2023 to the small screen include Element Pictures’ The Dry, which will premiere in March on RTÉ; Clean Sweep later this year; and Season 2 and 3 of popular returning series Kin and Smother respectively.

Regional funding

In order to target talent and skills outside of Dublin and Wicklow, a new fund has been set up to support regional activity, Screen Ireland said today. The Regional Support Fund is designed to support the development of skills around the country, outside of those two counties.

The fund is targeted at crew across all grades, including new entrants. It will also require commitments in the areas of diversity and inclusion, sustainable production and on-set initiatives, said Screen Ireland, which has ringfenced €3.5 million from its 2023 Budget for the fund.

It also noted that 47% of the local Irish feature film and TV drama in its 2023 slate were produced or filmed on location in regional areas, including Donegal, Limerick, Clare, Galway and Mayo.

On the topic of sustainable filmmaking, it was confirmed that funding will be available for all Screen-Ireland supported productions to engage a Sustainability Advisor in addition to the requirement for productions to document their carbon footprints. 

Meanwhile, in terms of helping the mental health of film creatives, one of the guests at today’s event was Dave Reid, the founder of Minding Creative Minds. He spoke about new supports available for people working in the screen industry (under funding provided by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media), through Minding Creative Minds.

This includes mental health supports like weekly counselling sessions for a period of 12 weeks, and legal, financial and career advice.

Désirée Finnegan, Chief Executive of Fís Éireann/Screen Ireland, said today that the slate’s wide scope of productions is “a testament to all the creative talent that worked on them”.

The incredible Academy Awards nominations news last week is a further reminder of the impact that this sector can have, with Irish creative talent being recognised amongst the best in the world.

Susan Bergin, Chair of Fís Éireann/Screen Ireland, said that their focus is on sustainable growth of the industry into the future. “That involves prioritising regional activity, continuing to drive skills development, and creating a supportive and inclusive industry through initiatives such as Minding Creative Minds,” she said.

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