Win for Irish film boosts Oscar prospects

AN Irish short film could be in line for an Oscar after scooping an important win at the prestigious Aspen Shortsfest in the United States.

Whatever Turns You On, an Irish Film Board-funded short film by filmmaker Declan Cassidy, qualified for the festival from more than 2,500 entries before beating off stiff competition from 60 finalists to take the Best Short Short Award.

This award is one of about 60 worldwide which qualify short films for entry to the Academy Awards.

“I’m really thrilled,” said Mr Cassidy, who is en route from the US to Cairo in Egypt where the film has also made the finals for Best Short Film in the Egypt Film Festival. “It’s a very simple little story about a homeless guy who doesn’t let the system get him down and I think it’s striking a chord with audiences in these troubled times.”

Aspen Shortfest, an old and prestigious festival, is considered as one of the Oscar Qualifiers festivals.

The film has scooped seven awards and has been officially selected into 15 festivals since its premiere at the Galway Film Fleadh.

The film has an impressive festival record, winning Best Film at the Florence Film Festival in Italy, Best Film at Filmstock Film Festival in Britain and Best Irish Short at the Kerry Film Festival.

“This is great news,” said Mr Cassidy. “The film has thankfully been really well received at festivals around the world but Aspen always attracts a huge number of entries because it’s a stepping stone to the Oscars.”

“This is by far the most important award,” explained Mr Cassidy. “Now we are in the great position of being one of the few films that will be considered for an Oscar. Also, thanks to Culture Ireland I was able to attend the festival and met some very influential Hollywood people who have been really interested in my work.”

Mr Cassidy has just finished work on an eight-part TV drama series entitled The House, funded by the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland and due to screen later in the year.

Later this month he shoots Veronique, another short film commissioned by the Irish Film Board.

“It’s great to see that, amidst all the doom, gloom and cutbacks there’s still a lot of support for film makers in Ireland,” Mr Cassidy said. “There were four Irish films out of 60 at Aspen which shows how healthy and important the industry is here.”

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