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HomenewsCultureA Breakthrough Moment for Irish-Language Filmmaking

A Breakthrough Moment for Irish-Language Filmmaking

As the announcement of the 2023 Oscar nominations approached, the creators of Irish-language film An Cailín Ciúin (The Quiet Girl) celebrated a “breakthrough” moment as it became the first of its kind to be shortlisted in the Best International Film category.

Written and directed by Colm Bairéad, the film is a feature-length adaptation of Claire Keegan’s 2010 short story “Foster.” Set in 1981, the title follows the story of neglected nine-year-old Cáit, who is sent to live with relatives in County Wexford, finding herself in a loving home for the first time.

An Cailín Ciúin has already appeased multiple critics, scooping up several domestic and international awards, including the Dublin Film Festival’s Audience Award and eight Irish Film and Television Academy awards (IFTAs).

For Irish filmmaking, An Cailín Ciúin’s submission to the Academy comes after surpassing box office records and has been hailed as a promising development in the creative film sector. It was originally produced in conjunction with Cine4, a collaborative film initiative between Irish-language broadcaster TG4, Screen Ireland, and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, which is open to applications for feature-length projects and offers budgets of up to €1.2 million.

Speaking to the BBC, Máire Ní Chonláin, a commissioning editor with TG4, said, “It’s so important that the Irish language is being developed for films and television… We’re trying to grow the independent sector… We want to normalize the language. You’d have often seen a French film before an Irish-language film.”

Joining An Cailín Ciúin in the category, formerly named Best Foreign Film, are German entry All Quiet on the Western Front—an adaptation of the 1929 novel—and Argentine director Santiago Mitre’s Argentina, 1985, both noted as strong contenders in the runup to the 95th Academy Awards. The division boasts 15 nominees in total.

With its most recent update, Netflix is not currently streaming any obvious frontrunners for Best Picture, but instead claims Mexican entry Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu and All Quiet on the Western Front in the international category—a clear and celebrated move as the platform’s international presence continues to flourish.

Awaiting the January 23 announcement of this year’s nominees, the team behind An Cailín Ciúin had already voiced their joy at this overall achievement for Irish filmmaking. In a tweet following the shortlist announcement in December, the film’s producers said they were “thrilled beyond words” and it was “an historic day.”

Athina Kontos

Language Magazine
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