Irish toast unprecedented Oscar success, fret over future

Thu Jan 14, 2016 12:44pm EST
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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 arts.

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.   Continued...

International Star Award recipient actor Michael Fassbender poses at the 27th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala in Palm Springs, California, January 2, 2016. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok