9.1.09

'Hunger' receives eight nominations for Ifta awards, including best film

DONALD CLARKE
Irish Times
9 Jan 09

AWARDS SEASON came to Dublin yesterday with the announcement of the nominations in 37 categories for the sixth annual Irish Film and Television Awards (Ifta).

As Los Angeles steadied itself for Sunday's Golden Globes ceremony, Áine Moriarty, chief executive of the Irish Film and Television Academy, and Amy Huberman, star of RTÉ's The Clinic and A Film With Me in It, unveiled the nominees at a press conference in the Shelbourne Hotel.

Hunger, Steve McQueen's ecstatically reviewed study of Bobby Sands's final days, led the pack with an impressive eight mentions, including nods for best film, best script and - for the extraordinary Michael Fassbender - best actor.

Lance Daly's Kisses, a loose- limbed low-budget Dublin fable, secured seven nominations, while Ian Fitzgibbon's A Film With Me in It, a Beckettian comedy co-starring best actor nominee Dylan Moran, took the bronze position with six mentions.

Irish personnel on In Bruges received five nominations but, as a co-production between the United Kingdom and the US, Martin McDonagh's cult hit was deemed ineligible for the best film race.

Perhaps the biggest surprise in the film section was the four nominations for Agnès Merlet's hitherto under-appreciated horror film Dorothy. The picture will receive a theatrical release later this year.

"Ireland has a fantastic resource of creative talent and 2008 has been another strong year of world-class Irish production across a very interesting mix of genres and styles," Moriarty said.

Ifta acknowledged that resource's contribution to television with multiple nominations for The Clinic, Whistleblower and - ahead of the field yet again - those rollicking, canoodling Tudors.

Aiden Gillen is short-listed in the best actor category for his contribution to The Wire, arguably the most celebrated television series of the decade, and Owen McPolin, the much admired cinematographer, gets a nod for the BBC's Little Dorrit.

Yesterday also saw the announcement of the third annual awards from the Dublin Film Critics Circle (DFCC). The organisation, which polls votes from the city's professional cinema reviewers, named Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood as the best film released in Ireland during 2008. Runners-up were, in order, Hunger, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, No Country for Old Men and Wall-E.

Unsurprisingly, Hunger managed to take the prize for best Irish film and now looks like a runaway favourite to win the best film Ifta when those results are announced at the Burlington Hotel in Dublin on February 14th.

The DFCC's list of the three best Irish films of 2008 was completed by Kisses and Liam Nolan's and Ross Whitaker's Saviours. Nolan and Whitaker's film, a study of St Saviour's Olympic Boxing Academy in north Dublin, is nominated in the best feature documentary category at the Iftas.

In previous years, such stars as Mel Gibson, Rene Russo and Mischa Barton have attended the Iftas, just one of a multitude of awards presentations - Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild, People's Choice and so forth - that now path the way to the Academy Awards.

The Oscar nominations will be announced on January 22nd and the statuettes handed out on February 22nd.

A full list of Ifta nominees will appear at www.ifta.ie

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