First Cut! Youth Film Festival celebrates young Irish filmmakers

TTHE annual First Cut! Youth Film Festival in Youghal celebrates the work of Irish filmmakers aged 12-24, writes Ellie O’Bryne

First Cut! Youth Film Festival celebrates young Irish filmmakers

This year, Young Offenders director Peter Foott will stop by the festival to share the story of how he wrote, directed and produced his IFTA-winning first feature film with the young filmmakers in attendance.

Festival coordinator Mary McGrath says that the current buzz around Irish film is adding to the energy at what is already a dynamic event. “For those who want a career in film, it seems within reach now,” she says.

“Peter has been making films for the last 15 years and his break-through came so recently; young people can see that these are ordinary people like themselves and they can relate to their experiences. It’s a definite inspiration. Not everyone’s going to be an Oscar-winner, but who knows?”

But First Cut, which is supported by the Arts Council and Cork County Council, celebrates young people’s engagement with film on many levels, not just for those who want to become professionals.

For an inherently film-literate generation, exploring issues relating to their lives through the medium seems to come as second nature, McGrath says.

“They are very comfortable with expressing themselves through film, and they pick up the technical aspects so easily that it’s amazing to see,” she says.

“It’s all very accessible now, through the internet, and it’s far quicker and cheaper to make films than it used to be.”

First Cut screens films in three main categories: a short film open submission programme, a section dedicated to school films and a category for third-level students.

The festival also features a Youth Music Video Competition mentored by director Brendan Canty, who has worked with Hozier and Conor McGregor. As well as screenings, the festival hosts workshops, talks and networking opportunities in the seaside town of Youghal, Co Cork.


Prolific 18-year-old West Cork filmmaker Arran Tenzin Bradstock is currently studying film in St John’s College in Cork. Box[ed] is a quirky drama exploring young people’s mental health issues.

Make Every Second Count

This enchanting film by ten-year-old Cork filmmaker Sionnach Langan is the winning film in the primary school category in a competition presented by the Donal Walsh #LiveLife Foundation. Donal lost his battle to cancer at 16, so the chosen theme, Make Every Second Count, has particular resonance.

Presenting a child’s-eye view of city life and partly comprised of sequences of simple stop-motion animation, Sionnach’s voice-over outlining her philosophy is highly individualistic, endearing and life- affirming.


The work of students from Dundalk Institute of Technology, Strawberry is presented as part of the young adult programme, and is definitely one of the lighter-hearted entries with its tale of a roadside fruit seller.


Wi-Cri, from Mitchelstown Cloyne Diocesan Youth Services, takes a humorous and surreal look at a phenomenon most of their peers are intimately familiar with: internet addiction.

  • First Cut! Youth Film Festival 2017 runs from today to Saturday at Mall Arts Centre, Youghal, Co. Cork.
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