Major awards for local film companies

By David Prendeville

Pictured: Olivia Coleman.


Local companies Element Pictures and Samson Films scored massive hits at the illustrious Venice and Toronto film festivals. Element’s film The Favourite and Samson’s Float Like a Butterfly won significant awards.

The Favourite won the Grand Jury Prize (runner-up prize) in the Best Film category. It also landed best actress for Olivia Colman. The film marks the third collaboration between Element and Greek auteur Yorgos Lanthimos after The Lobster and The Killing of a Sacred Deer.

Its impressive supporting cast includes Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz. It was shot by Irish cinematographer Robbie Ryan. The film follows the travails of Queen Anne (Colman) in the early 18th Century.

It has earned rave reviews at the festival and has been described as “a fabulously entertaining tragi-comedy” by the Hollywood Reporter and as a “sparkling contemporary Restoration farce” by Screen International. The film is set for release in Ireland on January 1st.

Samson’s Float Like a Butterfly won the FIPRESCI discovery award at Toronto. It was directed by Carmel Winters (Snap) and is described as “a timely and powerful story of a girl’s fight for freedom and to belong.” It follows a teenage girl as she attempts to follow her dreams and become a boxer.

The jury described the award winner as “a pastoral and traditional bucolic film, capturing the familiar angst and anxiety a young adult woman undergoes in order to have her say in the scheme of things in a predominately male-driven patriarchal society.”

As well as these award winners, two other films from local companies were screened at the Toronto festival. Element screened their new Roddy Doyle-scripted drama Rosie, while Wildcard Distribution’s famine-western Black 47 was also screened.

Rosie, which stars Sarah Greene and Moe Dunford, explores Dublin’s homeless crisis. Black 47 (which is currently on general release in Ireland) is an action-filled western set during the famine in Ireland. It has a large cast of Irish and international stars including Hugo Weaving, James Frecheville, Stephen Rea, Barry Keoghan, Moe Dunford and Sarah Greene.

The film has proved a massive hit recently at the Irish box-office, immediately becoming the most successful Irish film of the year after its first weekend on release. The €444,000 (including previews) it made was also the biggest opening weekend of an Irish film since Brooklyn in 2015. It climbed up to top spot at the Irish box office on its second week on release.

There was further Irish interest in Toronto with the premiere of Neil Jordan’s highly anticipated Greta starring the great French actress Isabelle Huppert, along with Chloe Grace Moretz and Maika Monroe.

There will also be much local and Irish interest in next month’s BFI London Film with The Favourite also set to play in that competition. Rosie is also set to screen out of competition. There will also be a special screening of Element’s Dublin Oldschool, which had a mammoth cinema run in Ireland over the summer. This screening will mark the film’s international debut.