Irish screen stars take centre stage

It was set in a spectacular €380m location and involved a 450-strong army of behind-the-camera personnel.

The plot included romantic leads, blasts from the past, comic twists, destroyed buildings, heart-warming family connections, A-list stars, and others who just think they are. Yet, despite names like Michael Fassbender, Brendan Gleeson, Fionnula Flanagan and Saoirse Ronan being the star attractions, for once, Hollywood was not calling the shots.

On Saturday evening, Ireland’s capital city played host to our silver screen stars at the ninth annual Irish Film and Television Awards (Iftas).

Gongs went to RTÉ’s Love/Hate and the film Albert Nobbs — but the big winner was John Michael McDonagh’s The Guard — taking home four awards including Best Film, Script, and Director.

Best Actor went to Michael Fassbender for his role in Shame while Carlow’s Saoirse Ronan bagged best Actress for her performance in Hanna.

Brendan O’Carroll’s Mrs Brown’s Boys beat off competition from the Hardy Bucks to scoop Best Entertainment Programme while ICA Boot Camp beat Bill Cullen’s The Apprentice, bringing home Best Reality Show.

On the red carpet, Fassbender confirmed to the Irish Examiner that not only has he been faced with a deluge of questions over that George Clooney remark since the Golden Globes — “I used to be a caddie,” he explained — he is also dodging awards co-sponsors The Shelbourne Hotel.

The actor was involved in scenes of untold damage to the building while filming recent Irish production Haywire. It seems no one settled the tab.

“I’ve signed back in under a different name. Hopefully someone else picked up the bill,” he said, adding he is happy to collaborate on more Irish productions “provided the script is right. I’d go to Bulgaria for the right script.”

Such an opportunity may present itself in the not too distant future, after acclaimed director Jim Sheridan name-checked Fassbender and Johnny Depp as his “dream” leads in the soon-to-be-shot remake of 1992 hit, Into The West.

Meanwhile, there won’t be any dramatic role changes coming up for Saoirse Ronan, according to her dad Paul.

“Because she’s close to 18 now people are starting to send her more adult scripts thinking she’s going to be an adult all of a sudden, but that’s not going to happen. If I wasn’t an actor myself I’d still be doing the same thing, myself and Monica, we’d still be watching out for her. There’s more important things than just doing a movie because it’s a good script and that, you’re trying to raise a child as well,” he said.

The 17-year-old may be a star in her own right, but in her father’s eyes she’s still daddy’s little girl.

IFTA AWARDS: The winners

* Best film: The Guard – Chris Clark, Flora Fernandez Marengo, Ed Guiney, Andrew Lowe (Reprisal Films/Element Pictures).

* Best director: John Michael McDonagh — The Guard.

* Best script: John Michael McDonagh — The Guard.

* Best actor: Michael Fassbender – Shame (Momentum Pictures).

* Best actress: Saoirse Ronan — Hanna (Universal Films)

* Best supporting actor: Chris O’Dowd – Bridesmaids.

* Best supporting actress: Fionnula Flanagan – The Guard

* George Morrison Feature Documentary Award: Bernadette; Notes on a Political Journey — Lelia Doolan.

* Special Irish Language Award: Corp + Anam – Paddy Hayes.

* Animation: The Boy in the Bubble – Kealan O’ Rourke (Igloo Films)

* Philips Short Film Award: Foxes — Lorcan Finnegan.

* Best international film: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

* Best international actor: Ryan Gosling – Drive.

* Best international actress: Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs.

* Lifetime achievement award: Fionnula Flanagan.

Television drama categories:

* Best drama: (with Broadcasting Association of Ireland): Love/Hate – Suzanne McAuley & Steve Mattews (Octagon Films)

* Best director: David Caffrey – Love/Hate (Octagon Films).

* Best writer: Stuart Carolan – Love/Hate (Octagon Films).

* Best actor: Aidan Gillen – Love/Hate (Octagon Films).

* Best actress: Ruth Negga – Shirley (Prospect Cymru Wales).

* Current Affairs/News: Prime Time Investigates: The Home Care Scandal – Adrian Lydon (RTÉ)

* Documentary series: Waterways – Stephen Rooke (Tile Films).

* Documentary: The Blood of the Travellers – Liam McGrath.

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