It has been a year of Oscar success, festival triumphs, international Box office coups, worldwide distribution deals and TV ratings wins but this Saturday, April 9th, the gallant stars of Ireland’s Golden Year of film will return home for the prestigious 2016 IFTA Film & Drama Awards. This is the second year the Ceremony takes place at the Round Room of the Mansion House – where the first Dail Eireann was held in January 1919, and will be presented by IFTA-winning actress and comedienne Deirdre O’Kane.
The undisputed King and Queen of this year’s ceremony are 2016 IFTA honourees Liam Neeson and Roma Downey – receiving accolades for their distinguished careers which have both spanned three decades.
Oscar nominated actor Liam Neeson will be in Dublin to receive the IFTA Outstanding Contribution to Cinema Award – recognition for his celebrated 30 year career in cinema. The world renowned Hollywood actor has played larger than life characters such as Oskar Schindler, Michael Collins, Rob Roy and Zeus. He will be presented the award on the night by the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, with tributes flowing in for Liam from Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg amongst others.
Distinguished actress, producer and humanitarian Roma Downey is set to receive the inaugural Irish Diaspora Award which is presented by the Academy in partnership with the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs within the Department of an Taoiseach. Downey, who grew up in Derry has worked her way to the top ranks of Hollywood. Golden Globe and Emmy nominated for her portrayal of Monica in Touched By An Angel, Downey has produced the award-winning epic series The Bible and the soon to be released Ben Hur and will receive a Star on the famed Hollywood Boulevard this summer. She is being honoured for her achievements in film & drama and her vision and humanitarian work worldwide and for being an extraordinary ambassador for Ireland.
It’s lucky the ceremony is not taking place on a Monday night as the world-renowned Boomtown Rats frontman and fellow humanitarian Bob Geldof is in town and will be presenting the award to Downey.
The IFTA Film & Drama Awards will honour the finest work from Ireland’s top actors, directors, writers and film makers, with nominated actors for this year’s ceremony including actors; Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn), Eva Birthistle (Swan Song), Victoria Smurfit (Once Upon a Time), Orla Brady (Price of Desire), Evanna Lynch (My Name is Emily), Olwyn Fouéré (The Survivalist), Ruth Negga (Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Ger Ryan (The Call Back Queen), Sarah Greene (Rebellion, Penny Dreadful), Ruth Bradley (Rebellion, Pursuit), Caitriona Balfe (Outlander), Michelle Fairley (Rebellion), Paula Malcomson (Ray Donovan), Jane Brennan (Brooklyn), Siobhán Ó Kelly (An Klondike), Gemma Leah Devereux (Get Up and Go), Domhnall Gleeson (Ex Machina, Brooklyn), Martin McCann (The Survivalist), Colin Farrell (The Lobster), Moe Dunford (Vikings), Owen Roe (Pursuit), Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs), Barry Ward (Rebellion), Barry Keoghan (Mammal), Aidan Turner (Poldark), Liam Cunningham (Game of Thrones), Dara Devaney (An Klondike), Jack Reynor (Sing Street), Sean T O Meallaigh (The Callback Queen), Stephen Rea (War and Peace), Ned Dennehy (Dickensian), Michael Smiley (My Name is Emily) and Robert O’Mahony (An Klondike).
From legendary actors and musicians to legendary directors, this year’s ceremony will also see IFTA nominees John Crowley and Lenny Abrahamson and – the directors of the multi-Oscar nominated films Brooklyn and Room – return to where it all started and they will be joined by previous IFTA Lifetime Achievement winners and fellow powerhouse filmmakers Neil Jordan (Michael Collins) and John Boorman (The General). Joining this esteemed group of directors on the red carpet are IFTA nominees fellow nominees Paddy Breathnach (Viva), Simon Fitzmaurice (My Name is Emily), Stephen Fingleton (The Survivalist), as well as Mary McGuckian (The Price of Desire), Emma Donoghue (Room), Mark O’Halloran (VIVA) and Johnny O’Reilly (Moscow Never Sleeps).
Also attending is writer and director Ben Cleary - who has just returned from LA where he recently won an Oscar for his stunning short film Stutterer.
Amongst the Guest presenters on the night will be Chris O’Dowd (Moone Boy, The Program) and Mia Goth (Nymphomaniac), who played a lead role in Irish film The Survivalist; other presenters on the night include Amy Huberman, Andrew Scott (Spectre), Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones) , Miriam O’Callaghan, Cathy Belton, Panti Bliss, John Boorman, Clive Standen (Vikings), and Charlie Murphy with other presenters giving a helping hand such as the industrious Victoria Smurfit – nominated this year for her villainous turn as Cruella De Vil in ABC drama series Once Upon A Time; the illustrious Orla Brady – Best Actress nominee for portraying Eileen Gray in Mary McGuckian’s The Price of Desire along with Eva Birthistle and Evanna Lynch who is nominated for her portrayal of Emily in Simon Fitzmaurice’s My Name is Emily.
Attendees at this year’s ceremony are asked once again to bring their body armour as the stars of Best Drama IFTA nominees Vikings (filmed in Ashford Studios), Game of Thrones (shot in Titanic Studios in Belfast) and supernatural drama series Penny Dreadful (shot in Ardmore Studios) are set to converge on the red carpet. Natalie Dormer – who plays the ambitious Queen Margaery Tyrell on HBO’s epic series Game of Thrones – will come up against Penny Dreadful witch Hecate Poole aka Sarah Greene (nominated this year for Rebellion and Penny Dreadful) while Vikings stars Moe Dunford (IFTA-nominated for his supporting turn) and Clive Standen – aka Aethelwulf and Rollo- will also descend upon IFTA’s battleground.
Also on the IFTA red carpet – will be Gay Byrne, Van Morrison, The Lord Mayor of Dublin (Críona Ní Dhálaigh), Jimmy Deenihan acting Minister of Diaspora Affairs. Also attending will be the four IFTA Rising Star nominees. Selected by a special jury and sponsored by the Irish Film Board, the Rising Star Award is a unique IFTA Award in that it puts an international spotlight on Irish professionals who have not only honed their crafts in the formative years of their career - but who have also excelled in their respective fields. This year’s nominees are Mammal writer/director Rebecca Daly, Alex Fegan – the acclaimed documentary filmmaker behind the IFTA nominated Older Than Ireland, Stephen Fingleton; who wrote and directed lauded dystopian thriller The Survivalist and actor Barry Ward, who has had a busy 2016 with Pursuit, The Truth Commissioner and Rebellion.
The IFTA Film & Drama Awards will take place at the Round Room of the Mansion House, Dublin on Saturday, April 9. The ceremony will be broadcast on TV3 on Sunday, April 10th at 9pm.