Plenty to celebrate at annual Ifta shindig


THE SCENE could have been the set of a movie recapturing the heady days of Celtic Tiger Ireland. And the mood was as upbeat as in those halcyon days of not too long ago. Half of the 900 guests paraded their fashionable finery, sculpted hairstyles and expensive handbags on the red carpet of Dublin’s Burlington Hotel on Saturday night. The other half, the men, were confined to the conventional tuxedo.

They may work in a highly competitive industry rife with rivalry, but it was all sweetness and light as they assembled for the sixth annual Irish Film and Television Awards (Iftas).

The consensus was that there was plenty to celebrate among the 2008 productions in contention for the awards and, whatever the future may hold, everyone was intent on enjoying themselves.

It was a long night’s journey into day, beginning at 6pm with a pre-show reception in the hotel’s Bellini bar before the guests were cajoled into entering the vast ballroom where a star-studded skyline was the dominant backdrop.

The tables were lined with wine bottles and, although it was St Valentine’s Day, the white wine was named Ménage à Trois, suggesting a risqué variation on the theme of eternal love.

The guests had just consumed cream of green asparagus and oyster mushroom soup when the host of the show, Ryan Tubridy, took to the stage. He was as animated as ever, and entirely comfortable addressing a room full of people, most of whom, he noted, he had interviewed at some point.

The entrées were served – baked fillet of halibut or peppered roast sirloin of prime Irish beef – as our host introduced the 12 award presentations that would be edited for inclusion in the televised version of the show.

From the outset, it was clear that two productions would rule the roost: Hunger, the powerful Long Kesh prison drama culminating in the final days of hunger striker Bobby Sands, and The Tudors, the handsome television series featuring Jonathan Rhys Meyers as the sexually active young Henry VIII.

There were hoots and cheers from the Northern Ireland Screen table near us as Hungertook the first award – best sound for Ronan Hill and Mervyn Moore – and then loud applause when Joan Bergin received her second Ifta for best costume design on The Tudors, a series that has been a boon to the Irish film industry in recent years.

Hungertook the third prize – best original music score for David Holmes – and then it was the turn of The Tudorsagain when Sharon Doyle and Dee Corcoran collected the trophy for best hair and make-up.

Hungermade it three out of five when Tom McCullagh received the award for best production design.

The show finally ended a few minutes before midnight with Hunger taking the award for best film.

That brought its tally to six, drawing it level with The Tudors.

However, Hungercould legitimately lay claim to a seventh prize, the rising star award, which was given to Killarney-raised actor Michael Fassbender, who plays Bobby Sands in the film.

Fassbender made it a double when he collected the best actor award for Hunger.

The Burlington ballroom was “in lockdown” as the show went live on television at 9.40pm, and the President, Mary McAleese, arrived.

Mrs McAleese presented the lifetime achievement award to veteran filmmaker George Morrison, whose Irish historical productions, Mise Éireand Saoirse?, were recalled with admiration by Senator David Norris and directors Neil Jordan and Jim Sheridan.

Seán Ó Riada’s majestic score for Mise Éireplayed on the sound system and Morrison received a sustained standing ovation as he went to the podium. He eloquently expressed his appreciation on receiving the honorary prize and his delight that the Ifta award for best documentary feature would be named after him.

That prize went to surfing film Waveriders, which was warmly received, although the only boos of the night could be heard when its producer, Margo Harkin, had the temerity to use the b-word, thanking her banker for supporting the production.

One of the nominees for best television documentary series was the four-part Bertie, and there was much speculation as to how its subject, the former taoiseach, would be received if he arrived.

It was idle speculation because he did not attend, even though the series about him took the trophy.

There were murmurs about how the audience would respond if Fairytale of Kathmandu, the controversial documentary on poet Cathal Ó Searcaigh, won the award for best Irish-language programme.

However, the prize went to another nominee, In the Name of the Fada, accepted by Des Bishop in an unusually expletive-free speech, although he was speaking as Gaeilge.

By the time the proceedings came to a close, all the body heat in the ballroom had contributed to a temperature reminiscent of a Cannes film festival beach party.

Now it was time for the post-show reception and the atmosphere remained exultant until the early hours of Sunday morning.

Only one guest, a producer, stuck a note of caution.

“The barbarians are at the gate,” he said ominously.

Full list of winners from the 6th Annual Iftas

Film categories:


Hunger- Laura Hastings-Smith, Robin Gutch (Blast! Films)


Lance Daly, Kisses- (Element Pictures Distribution)


Martin McDonagh, In Bruges- (Focus Features/Universal Pictures)

Actor in a Lead Role

Michael Fassbender, Hunger- (Blast! Films)

Actress in a Lead Role

Eileen Walsh, Eden- (Samson Films)

Actor in a Supporting Role

Liam Cunningham, Hunger- (Blast! Films)

Actress in a Supporting Role

Saoirse Ronan, Death Defying Acts- (Lionsgate UK)

George Morrison Feature Documentary Award

Waveriders- Margo Harkin, Joel Conroy (Besom Productions Ltd)

International Film

In Bruges(Focus Features/Universal Pictures)

International Actor

Robert Downey Jr, Iron Man( Paramount Pictures and Marvel Entertainment)

Best International Actress Award – People’s Choice

Meryl Streep, Mamma Mia!


Single Drama/Drama Serial

Whistleblower- Siobhan Bourke, Peter Norris, Kathryn Lennon, Lesley McKimm, Saffron Pictures/Newgrange Pictures (RTÉ)

Drama Series/Soap

The Tudors- Morgan O'Sullivan, World 2000 Entertainment (TV3, BBC)

Director Television

Ciaran Donnelly, The Tudors- World 2000 Entertainment (TV3, BBC)

Script Television

Graham Linehan, The I.T. Crowd- (talkbackTHAMES)

Actor in a Lead Role

Aidan Gillen, The Wire- Warner Bros International Television Distribution (TG4)

Actress In a Lead Role

Charlene McKenna, Raw- Ecosse Films / Octagon Films (RTÉ)

Actor in a Supporting Role

Peter O'Toole, The Tudors- World 2000 Entertainment (TV3, BBC)

Actress in a Supporting Role

Maria Doyle Kennedy, The Tudors- World 2000 Entertainment (TV3, BBC)


Costume Design

Joan Bergin, The Tudors- (World 2000 Entertainment)

Director of Photography

PJ Dillon, 32A- (Janey Pictures)


J. Patrick Duffner, Kisses- (Element Pictures Distribution)

Make Up & Hair

Sharon Doyle & Dee Corcoran, The Tudors -(World 2000 Entertainment)

Original Score

David Holmes, Hunger - (Blast! Films)

Production Design

Tom McCullagh, Hunger- (Blast! Films)


Ronan Hill & Mervyn Moore, Hunger- (Blast! Films)


Children’s/Youth Programme

Aifric- Micheal O'Domhnaill, Telegael Media Group (TG4)

Current Affairs

Cocaine(Prime Time Investigates) - Paul Loughlin/Sean Mac Giolla Phadraig, Keelin Shanley/Barry O’Kelly (RTÉ)

Documentary Series

Bertie- Steve Carson, Mint Productions (RTÉ)

Single Documentary

Cromwell In Ireland- Maurice Sweeney, Tile Films (RTÉ)

Entertainment Programme

The Apprentice- Larry Bass, Screentime Shinawil (TV3)

Factual Programme

In The Name Of The Fada- Pat Comer, Peer Pressure Productions (RTÉ)


Troid Fhuilteach (A Bloody Canvas)- Andrew Gallimore, Fastnet Films, TG4



Granny O'Grimm- Brown Bag Films

Short Film

The Door –Juanita Wilson (Octagon Films)

Special Irish Language

In The Name Of The Fada- Pat Comer, Peer Pressure Productions (RTÉ)

Rising Star Award, sponsored by Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board

Michael Fassbender – Actor

Industry Lifetime Contribution Award

George Morrison