A high five as we earn a shot at Oscar glory
IRISH animators were preparing for a trip to Hollywood last night after scooping a series of Oscar nominations.
'The Secret of Kells' is one of five films up for Best Animated Feature and 'Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty' and 'The Door' have been nominated in the Best Short Film categories.
Arts Minister Martin Cullen led tributes to Ireland's five nominees and the success of the domestic film industry.
"We are truly boxing and winning way above our weight here and to make the final lists is a testimony to the film-craft of our industry," the minister said.
'The Secret of Kells', which stars actor Brendan Gleeson and Mick Lally with music by Kila, was mostly hand-drawn and took three years to complete. It gets its US premiere in Boston on St Patrick's Day.
Paul Young, producer and chief executive of Kilkenny-based Cartoon Saloon which is behind the film, said the nomination was a massive shock.
"It fairly much came out of the blue. We didn't think we had a hope up against the massive amount of studio films -- there's some fairly high quality films released this year," he said.
The producer said the Disney hit 'Up' was favourite to take the award, before adding: "But maybe they'll give it to the underdogs."
Directed by Tomm Moore, the joint Irish, French and Belgian production tells the story of an orphan named Brendan who is set the task of completing the Book of Kells and in the process earns a new life of creativity and imagination where adventure, danger and action await him.
Mr Moore revealed that the origins of the animated feature film date back to his own time as a student in Ballyfermot Senior College. "It's really a tribute to a whole bunch of us in college who wanted to do something about Irish mythology and legend in animation. We also wanted to introduce people worldwide to the tradition we have in Ireland of illuminating manuscripts and artworks.
"Everybody considers Ireland to do with music and dance but we have a visual art tradition here that no one really appreciates," he said.
'The Door', written and directed by Juanita Wilson and produced by Octagon Films, is based on the true story of a father and his young daughter set in Russia 1986.
Another Irish animation which received an Oscar nomination was 'Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty', made by Dublin company Brown Bag Films, which was nominated in the Best Animated Short Film category.
Written and voiced by Irish comedian Kathleen O'Rourke, the short features a truly grim granny who recounts scary tales to her charges.
Daragh O'Connell, whose company was nominated for an Oscar in 2002 for 'Give Up Your Aul Sins', admitted his surprise that the Irish short had caught the attention of the Academy.
"Something about Ireland must still resonate in America. It's amazing to get this when you consider that we were up against huge companies who didn't get nominated. I expect a big gang of us will be going over for Oscar night."
Other Irish nominees include animator Richard Baneham for Best Visual Effects category for his work on 'Avatar'.
Now based in California, the animator was listed in the Best Visual Effects category for his work on the box-office hit on which he worked for four-and-a-half years.
"This nomination make me very proud, not least because Daragh O'Connell from Brown Bag Films was in Ballyfermot College with me from 1999 to 2003. Now we're going to the Oscars."
And Peter J Devlin, originally from the North and now living in Los Angeles, was nominated for Best Achievement in Sound for his work on 'Star Trek'.
Simon Perry, Irish Film Board chief executive, said an Oscar nomination was the best possible endorsement. "There are hundreds of thousands of short films produced every year around the world and for Ireland to receive two short film Oscar nominations and five nominations in total in one year really underlines the country's world class talent," he said.
Carlow actress Saoirse Ronan failed to receive a nomination for her role as teenage murder victim Susie Salmon in the Peter Jackson film 'The Lovely Bones'. Hopes had been high after she was named as Best Young Actress in the US Critics' Choice Awards earlier this month.
- The 82nd Academy Awards will take place at The Kodak Theatre, Hollywood on Sunday, March 7