toast unprecedented Oscar success, fret over future
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[January 15, 2016]
By Padraic Halpin
DUBLIN (Reuters) - Irish
cinema toasted a record nine Oscar nominations on
Thursday that filmmakers and producers attributed to two
decades of patient funding, although they fear this
could be undone by recent sharp government cuts to the
Michael Fassbender and Saoirse Ronan won nominations for
acting while "Room" and Ronan's immigrant tale "Brooklyn" - both
Irish directed and part-financed by the state-funded Irish Film
Board - shared seven nominations, including best picture.
Irish short Stutterer rounded off a haul that the country's
president described as "remarkable", one that has prompted calls
on the government to reverse a 40 percent cut to the film
board's budget since the 2008 financial crisis hit Ireland hard.
"This is the bearing of fruit after proper support for the
filmmaking community over a number of years but it's such a
fabulously fragile business that we could lose all the gains,"
director Lenny Abrahamson, nominated for the first time for
"Room", told Reuters.
"It's very easy to say we'll knock another 10 percent off the
film board's budget but that's very short sighted. People will
just get disheartened. You won't notice it this year or next
year, but you will notice it in five or 10 years time."
When Abrahamson first started making short films in the early
90s with a fellow first time Irish nominee, "Room" producer Ed
Guiney, there was no film board.
Academy Award success for Irish director Jim Sheridan's "My Left
Foot" and Neil Jordan's "The Crying Game" helped lead to the
reinstatement of the film board in 1993.
Without it, Abrahamson says he probably would have ended up
working in a different area of the arts. His first feature film
"Adam & Paul" - the touching 2004 tale of two Dublin drug
addicts - was almost completely funded by the film board.
The agency's early support for "Room" allowed Guiney's Element
Pictures to secure the much sought-after rights to Emma
Donoghue's award-winning novel of the same name. The Irish-born
playwright was also nominated for adapting her own work.
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"In many ways Lenny's career is a great example. From 'Adam and
Paul' to 'Room', the film board have been with him each step of the
way," said Guiney, whose production company also released Cannes
Film Festival jury prize winner "The Lobster" this year.
"There is a serious danger of killing the goose that laid the golden
egg. This is a cultural beacon for Ireland and a great opportunity."
With a record seven films set for this month's Sundance Film
Festival following the $52 million Irish productions took in
internationally last year, the film board has sought a return to the
20 million euros in annual funding it received in 2008.
It fears that without this, Ireland will not enjoy the same level of
success in five years' time and they will not be able to nurture the
next Abrahamson, Ronan or Fassbender.
"Moments like this don't just pop, there are whole lives of work
behind it," Brooklyn director John Crowley told Reuters.
"The film board is so, so important. You cannot make films without
that kind of infrastructure. It's about careful investment that has
gone on quietly and unheralded for years and suddenly then things
begin to flower."
(Editing by Mark Heinrich)
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