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IFTAs 2020: Irish film awards pull in array of A-listers despite virtual ceremony

Martin Scorsese, Andrew Scott, Jamie Buckley, Caitriona Balfe, Liam Neeson and Pierce Brosnan among stars

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Virtual show: Host Deirdre O’Kane with Liam Neeson. Photo: PIPPictures

Virtual show: Host Deirdre O’Kane with Liam Neeson. Photo: PIPPictures

Virtual show: Host Deirdre O’Kane with Liam Neeson. Photo: PIPPictures

The IFTAS were staged like never before - virtually and without the usual pizazz - but A-listers Martin Scorsese, Paul Mescal and Daisy Edgar-Jones helped inject silver-screen style into proceedings.

The Irish Film and Television Awards (IFTAs) were held online this year for the first time in the event's 17-year history.

And despite the lack of the red-carpet allure and the obligatory stage thank-you speeches, the magic of the night was not lost.

Ordinary Love won Best Film 2020 and Black '47 received a gong for Best Film 2019. Both awards were presented remotely by the legendary American director Martin Scorsese.

Scorsese told viewers: "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."

Tom Vaughan-Lawlor was awarded Best Actor in the Film category. He accepted the award from his sofa, with his actress wife Claire Cox and their children.

Vaughan-Lawlor said: "Thank you to IFTA for all the work they've done for the industry during the lockdown. I'm very proud to be a member."

The actor won for his role in Mark O'Halloran's heavy-hitting Irish drama, Rialto, and he made sure not to leave the screenwriter out while accepting his gong.

Organisers did their best to entertain in the age of the 'new normal' and host Deirdre O'Kane, was the consummate professional. She wore a beautiful ivory suit and managed to pull off a laid-back yet elegant style.

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Andrew Scott, who won Best Actor in a Drama for his role in Black Mirror: Smithereens, received his award from a scenic beach in Dubrovnik.

The Dublin star, still beloved for his roles in Fleabag and Sherlock Holmes, said: "Hello, Ireland, I miss you an incredible amount.

"I feel bereft for not having been home for such a long time. This really makes me feel connected."

Scott made an impassioned plea for the Irish arts sector, adding: "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."

Kerry native Jessie Buckley claimed two awards for Best Actress (Film), for 2019's Wild Rose, and Best Supporting Actress (Drama) for Chernobyl.

Pierce Brosnan announced Niamh Algar as the winner of Best Supporting Actress in a Film for Calm with Horses.

The Mullingar actress paid tribute to women in the industry, saying: "I got into acting because I wanted to bring representation to women on screen."

Normal People stars Paul Mescal and Daisy Edgar-Jones presented the awards for Best Short Film and Best Animated Short. The on-screen couple paid tribute to the strength of Ireland's short filmmakers.

Mescal announced Welcome to a Bright White Limbo as this year's winner. The award for Best Animated Short went to The Dream Report.

Outlander star Caitriona Balfe was one of the actors who was determined to focus on the positives of the arts, despite the pandemic.

Balfe said the occasion was an opportunity to "celebrate truly spectacular work that Irish filmmakers are achieving, in front of and behind the camera".

Liam Neeson told the industry while he realised the arts were "going through hard times, cruel times… we will get through it, we must get through it".

Brosnan said he was "truly honoured to be part of this filmmaking community of storytellers and people who I so greatly admire".

Aisling Franciosi won the Fís Éireann/Screen Ireland Rising Star Award for her standout performance in psychological thriller, The Nightingale.

Paddy Breathnach won the Director award for Irish film Rosie, Mark O'Halloran received the gong for Scriptwriter (Film), while David Wilmot was awarded for Actor in a Supporting Role for the movie Ordinary Love.

The Lonely Battle of Thomas Reid received the George Morrison Feature Documentary award.

Virgin Media psychological thriller Blood won in the drama category and Dearbhla Walsh was awarded a gong in the director category for The Handmaid's Tale. Mark Rowe, meanwhile, was recognised in the Scriptwriter for Drama category for Temple.

President Michael D. Higgins told viewers the Irish film and television industry had shown "such commitment and extraordinary creativity to survive during hard times in the past".


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