Virgin Media backs 10 short films in €150,000 festival scheme

Competition run with Screen Ireland aims to support Irish industry at development stage

Lenny Abrahamson, one of the judges in the Virgin Media Discovers competition, pictured on the set of Normal People. Photograph: Enda Bowe/Element Pictures

Lenny Abrahamson, one of the judges in the Virgin Media Discovers competition, pictured on the set of Normal People. Photograph: Enda Bowe/Element Pictures

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Virgin Media Ireland has awarded €9,000 to 10 filmmakers to invest in the development of their scripts in a short film competition run in partnership with Screen Ireland.

Judges in the €150,000 Virgin Media Discovers scheme will now select two winning projects to receive €30,000 each to produce their films, which will be shown on Virgin Media Television and on-demand as part of the Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival (VMDIFF).

The selected projects are Nannie by writer and director Louise Lowe; Ahmed & Ayomide written by Aoife Kelleher and Bulelani Cornelius; Adagio from writer Hana Hall and director Fiona Aryan; Superhuman by writer and director Michael Fleming; Water Under the Bridge by writer and director Rehan Ali; Pediment by Derek Ugochukwo; Punch Line by Allie O’Rourke and Becky Cheatle; Slip Away by writer and director Mark Cantan, Goodnight Girl by Hiram Harrington; and Headspace by Aisling Byrne and Mark Smith.

The judging panel included director and screenwriter Lenny Abrahamson, Derry Girls creator Lisa McGee, actor Niamh Algar and screenwriter and executive producer Ursula Rani Sarma.

The scheme, which attracted more than 600 entrants, is backed by Screen Ireland’s television production stimulus funding.

“We’re thrilled to be supporting a remarkable group of writers and film makers at a crucial stage in the development of their work,” said Paul Higgins, vice-president of commercial at Virgin Media. “This is a big thing for us, and we’re really happy with how it’s gone.”

The announcement comes ahead of Virgin Media Television’s launch of its spring schedule later this week.

Mr Higgins said the competition reflected Virgin’s ambition to make its sponsorship of the film festival about more than “just putting our name above the door”. Airing the two winners on Virgin Media Television will bring “the eyeballs and the prestige of being on a national channel”, while on-demand availability allows for greater longevity, he said.

VMDIFF, which receives its principal funding from the Arts Council, is currently scheduled to take place from March 3rd to 14th as a multi-platform event.