Wednesday 22 March 2017

Film Board wants to see state funding doubled

Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

Actress Eva Birthistle, and directors Lenny Abrahamson and Jim Sheridan at the launch of the Irish Film Board’s 2016 slate of productions. Photo: Damien Eagers
Actress Eva Birthistle, and directors Lenny Abrahamson and Jim Sheridan at the launch of the Irish Film Board’s 2016 slate of productions. Photo: Damien Eagers

The Irish Film Board (IFB) has urged the Government to double its funding to more than €20m "as soon as possible".

The board, which receives €11.5m a year, is calling on the Government to reverse the substantial cuts made during the recession and return funding to 2008 levels.

Speaking at the IFB's 2016 programme launch, movie- maker Jim Sheridan stressed the importance of nurturing Ireland's film industry.

"When you think of the money invested in sport, €11m is very little," he said.

"Sure, in the racing world €11m wouldn't get you a horse out of the stud."

Sheridan believes funding should go towards cultivating and training emerging actors, directors and screenwriters.

"We need a sort of Roy Keane of the film world who takes a stand and refuses to play because the training facilities aren't good enough," he said.

Asked if he could be that champion, Sheridan responded: "I don't know if I'm as tough as Roy."

IFB acting chairperson Dr Annie Doona described last year as a "watershed moment" in Irish cinema when we were recognised on an international scale.

"The Irish film sector is enjoying unprecedented success," she said.

"Irish film talent is making a significant global impact on the international stage, but we need to invest more money in the industry if we want to continue this success."

Irish films are estimated to have taken around $52m (€49m) at the international box office in the past 12 months.

Meanwhile, a record seven Irish films have been selected for the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.

Sheridan's latest movie, 'The Secret Scripture', which stars Rooney Mara, Aidan Turner and Jack Reynor, has been cited as one of the highlights of the IFB's 2016 slate.

'Handsome Devil', a sports comedy starring Andrew Scott, Ardal O'Hanlon and Amy Huberman, is another.

Friendship

Written and directed by John Butler, who previously worked on 'The Stag', the film focuses on two boarding school room-mates who strike up an unlikely friendship.

Whit Stillman's 'Love and Friendship', starring Kate Beckinsale and Chloe Sevigny, will delight fans of period drama, while film series 'After 16' will commemorate the Easter Rising.

The IFB has also devised a six-point plan to address the gender imbalance in Irish film.

Combined figures for 2010 to 2015 show that only 16pc of the IFB's production funding applications came from projects with female writers attached while 14pc came from projects with female directors.

"It's something we take very seriously and we aim to tackle the imbalance," said Dr Doona.

The IFB described the plan as "holistic" and said it will provide training and mentoring schemes, funding and education to ensure it achieves gender parity.

Irish Independent

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