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The Problem with IFTA isn't just Gender

The Irish Film and Television Awards (IFTA), which was established in 1999, has come under fire for the lack of women nominated in a number of categories. Indeed just 3 women are nominated for best actress, with 5 men nominated for best actor. The lack of Irish Film as far as IFTA is concerned is also the issue with two films in the best film category co-productions, which are not set in Ireland, and yes I agree this is a very tenuous argument that I am putting forward. But surely if we see an increase in local productions we should also in tandem deliver on gender equality across all roles in film and TV.

Again I don't mean to demean the idea of a co-production or that of foreign direct investment. Aisling Walsh's Maudie does deserve a nomination for both best film and best director, however the film is clearly a Canadian film with Irish funding and an Irish Director.

Three Billboards is even more tenuous than this argument. The film is not a co-production and its only really connection is the film's directors Irish heritage. No offense to Martin McDonagh who cut his teeth in Irish cinema, and is clearly happy to be considered Irish, but again his nomination for best script has to be questioned.

Thankfully Anne Skelly was nominated for her role in Kissing Candice, but why has Saoirse Ronan and Colin Farrell achieved nominations for roles in foreign movies. Indeed Victoria Smurfit's nomination seems totally out of place for her role in The Lears.

You'd question why if there are so few female leads that Sally Hawkins wasn't nominated for a best Actress award for Maudie, after all it is a co-production with Canada. Was that decision purely down to the fact that she's not Irish, surely she could have gained best actress nods in both the Best Actress Category and in the Best International Actress Category. Indeed Nicole Kidman surely should have been given the nomination in the Best Actress category rather than in the Best International Actress Category.

And then there is TV Drama.

Drama is also a mixed bag of international shows. Acceptable Risk is a co-production with Canada, Game of Thrones, Line of Duty and Vikings are filmed in Ireland,

With BBC Northern Ireland's Paula and RTÉ's Striking Out being the only 2 notable Irish nominations.

All of the Irish Directors are working on international shows. Fargo and Ackley Bridge having no connection to Ireland, with Vikings and Peaky Blinders only filmed in Ireland. Scriptwriters are a bit better with nominations for Conor McPherson for Paula and Antoine O'Flatharta for Grace Harte, but the nominations for Ronan Bennett for Gunpowder and Malcolm Campbell for Ackley Bridge are out of place. Yet nothing for Kissing Candice.

I have no problem with Irish actors working on International projects but why the need to nominate them for roles in those productions. Richard Dormer in Rellik, Adrian Dunbar in Line Of Duty, Brendan Gleeson in Mr Mercedes, Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders and Chris O'Dowd in Get Shorty.

Best Actress fairs a bit better with three nominations for Irish actress in Irish productions Elaine Cassidy in Acceptable Risk, Denise Gough in Paula and Amy Huberman in Striking Out. However 2 nominations for Caitriona Balfe in Outlander and Ruth Negga in Preacher.

Seriously, Jason O'Mara is nominated for Best Actor in a Lead Role for Marvel's Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D, and IFTA could not come up with 2 more Actresses in a Leading role for film?

IFTA should be largely about Irish film and TV, produced in Ireland and largely aimed at Audiences in Ireland. I do appreciate the work carried out on all of the production nominated by Irish filmmakers but the Awards do very little to highlight the successes of local Irish film in any real sense. Many of the international films and TV Dramas will garner recognition in many other award ceremonies.

And a quick run through those nominations no one is interested in:-

CRAFT AND TECHNICAL NOMINATIONS

Cinematography

Tom Comerford for Pilgrimage (Irish Film)

Richard Kendrick for Song of Granite (Irish Film)

Seamus McGarvey for The Greatest Showman (InternationaL Film)

Cathal Watters for Peaky Blinders (International TV, produced in Ireland)

Costume design

Consolata Boyle for Victoria and Abdul (International Film)

Sarajane Ffrench O'Carroll for The Lodgers (Irish Film)

Susan O'Connor Cave for Vikings (International TV, produced in Ireland)

Leonie Prendergast for Pilgrimage (Irish Film)

Editing

Tony Cranstoun for The Farthest (Irish Film with International Funding)

Dermot Diskin for Peaky Blinders (International TV, produced in Ireland)

Uná Ní Dhonghaíle for Three Girls (International TV)

Tadhg O'Sullivan for Song of Granite (Irish Film)

Make-up and hair

Julie-Ann Ryan and Niamh Glynn for The Cured (Irish Film)

Clare Lambe and Sevlene Roddy for Into the Badlands (International TV, Produced in Ireland)

Lorraine Glynn and Sonya Dolan for The Man Who Invented Christmas (International Film)

Dee Corcoran and Tom McInerney for Vikings (International TV, Produced in Ireland)

Original music

Ray Harman for The Farthest (Irish Film with International Funding)

Stephen McKeon for Pilgrimage (Irish Film)

Stephen Rennicks for Maze (Irish Film)

John Gerard Walsh for The Drummer and The Keeper (Irish Film)

Production design

Stephen Daly for Into the Badlands (International TV, produced in Ireland)

Joe Fallover for The Lodgers (Irish Film)

Mark Geraghty for Vikings (International TV, produced in Ireland)

John Hand for Maudie (Irish Canadian Co-production, produced in Canada)

Sound

Steve Fanagan and Kieran Horgan for The Farthest (Irish Film with International Funding)

Ronan Hill, Onnalee Blank and Mathew Waters for Game of Thrones (International TV, produced in Ireland)

Karl Merren and Brendan Deasy for Into the Badlands (International TV, produced in Ireland)

Marco Dolle, Steve Munro and Garret Farrell for Maudie(Irish Canadian Co-production, produced in Canada)

VFX

Tim Chauncey for The Ash Lad: In the Hall of the Mountain King (Irish European Co-production)

Ian Benjamin Kenny and Enda O'Connor for The Farthest (Irish Film with International Funding)

Ed Bruce and Nicholas Murphy, Screenscene for Game of Thrones (International TV, produced in Ireland)

Tailored Films and Bowsie Workshop for The Lodgers (Irish Film)