Proud Saoirse shines brightest among galaxy of Hollywood stars
HOLLYWOOD upped sticks and dropped into Dublin for the Irish Film and Television Awards (IFTAs).
It was Tinseltown without the sunshine as veterans Jon Voight and John Boorman joined heart-throbs such as Matt Dillon and Josh Hartnett on the red carpet.
More than 150 nominated actors, directors and crew members were present in the hope of winning one of 39 cast-iron statuettes, voted for by Irish Film & Television Academy members.
A special lifetime achievement prize was presented to film-maker Boorman in recognition of his work spanning five decades. But the Wicklow-based 'Deliverance' director admitted he was not normally a fan of awards events.
"I've been nominated five times for Oscars, and I only turned up once because I don't like ceremonies that much," he said. "I've been talked into this because of all my friends I've worked with; that's a wonderful thing and I love to see them."
Saoirse Ronan spoke of her pride at being Irish as she picked up a gong in the best actress category for her role in 'The Lovely Bones'.
The 15-year old Carlow girl said that the award was all the more special as she was also up for a BAFTA.
"While it's nice that they want to award me, everyone here knows that I don't consider myself English," said Ronan.
Ronan was just 13 when she began shooting the film adaptation of the Alice Sebold novel, in which she plays teenage rape and murder victim Susie Salmon, but said it was an experience she would never forget.
"I loved making the film. That's never changed, even if the film wasn't doing well, it's a film I am immensely proud of and an experience I will never forget. Then to be awarded by my own people for that film is wonderful," said Ronan after picking up her award.
Another big Hollywood Irish actor getting a gong at Dublin's Burlington Hotel was Colin Farrell, who won Best Actor in a Lead Role Film for 'Ondine'.
A mythical tale in which a fisherman catches what he believes is a mermaid, the film was shot during the summer of 2008 in seaside town Castletownbere, west Cork.
And Farrell was in a state of turmoil backstage when he realised he had forgotten to mention the town's residents in his acceptance speech.
"I never thanked the people of Castletownbere. F**k! Can I say thank you people of Castletownbere. They really did welcome us into their hearts and their lives and their daily world.
"I was there years before shooting a TV film called 'Falling For A Dancer' and to come back 12 years later was a lovely way to complete the circle. It was exactly as enchanted, and as raw, and as brutal, and as kind as I remembered it."
And an eight-year-old boy in his First Holy Communion suit shared the red carpet with Hollywood veterans. Young actor Robert Donnelly was cheering on his latest project 'Eamon', nominated for Best Film.
Despite rubbing shoulders with seasoned pros such as Brendan Gleeson and 'Midnight Cowboy' star Voight, the schoolboy had no pre-show jitters.
"No, I'm not nervous tonight," he said. "Working on the film was good -- it was really fun, but really, really hard work too."
Having boycotted the IFTAs last year, TV3 won in three categories, including for 'News at 5:30pm', which won the Best News Programme.
Another winner was RTE presenter Pat Kenny, whose new debate programme 'The Frontline' won Best Current Affairs Programme. But he admitted he missed the showbiz edge of his previous role presenting 'The Late Late Show'.
"I miss the stars I will never get to interview on TV again. There is no excuse to get Colin Farrell on 'The Frontline', unless he becomes an axe murderer or something like that, then we will have him," he joked.
Conor McPherson's 'The Eclipse' was named Best Film and Hollywood actress Meryl Streep won in the Best International Actress gong for her performance in romantic comedy 'It's Complicated'.
Film: The Eclipse
Actor in lead role: Colin Farrell (Ondine)
Actress in lead role: Saoirse Ronan (The Lovely Bones)
Supporting actor: Aidan Quinn (The Eclipse)
Supporting actress: Dervla Kirwan (Ondine)
Director: Jim Sheridan
International film: The Hurt Locker
International actor: Robert Downey Jr (Sherlock Holmes)
International actress: Meryl Streep (It’s Complicated)
TV DRAMA Single drama: Five Minutes Of Heaven
Drama series: The Clinic
Director: Thaddeus O’Sullivan (Into The Storm)
Script television: Frank Deasy (Father & Son)
Actor in lead role: Brendan Gleeson (Into The Storm)
Actress in lead role: Elaine Cassidy (Harper’s Island)
Supporting actor: Stephen Rea (Father & Son)
Supporting actress: Sarah Bolger (The Tudors)
Entertainment programme: The Apprentice
Documentary series: Blood of The Irish (RTE)
Best current affairs: The Frontline (RTE)
Factual programme: Nightly News with Vincent Browne (TV3)