Calvary was the big winner at last night’s Irish Film and Television Awards (IFTAs) in Dublin.
The story of a good priest confronting bad elements in his rural parish won best film, best script for its writer/director John Michael McDonagh and best actor for Brendan Gleeson.
The timing of its win could hardly be better given that Calvary goes on general release in Ireland next weekend.
Dispensing with the fulsome thanks which usually surround an acceptance speech, McDonagh thanked himself for spending a month in a room on his own coming up with the script.
Gleeson thanked a Christian Brother teacher in his primary school who was “brave enough to allow creativity to appear normal”.
The winner of best international picture went to Philomena. Philomena Lee, the woman, whose search for her adopted son inspired the story, was given a standing ovation when she and actor/writer Steve Coogan went up to collect the award last night.
Ms Lee left the talking to Coogan who expressed gratitude that the Irish public had embraced a film that hardly portrays Irish society in a good light.
Ms Lee, who turned up last night with her daughter Jane, has been on a veritable carousal of awards including the Oscars and the Baftas in recent months, but pronounced the IFTAs the most special of all.
“I love being home in my country. The others were great, don’t get me wrong, but we never even thought we were going to get invited to this. We are so lucky. We’re so proud to be back to Ireland,” she said.
Neil Jordan won best director for his vampire film Byzantium, Saoirse Ronan won best actress and the film a technical award for best make-up.
For once Love/Hate did not sweep the board in the television category winning this year in just two categories: best supporting actor for Peter Coonan and best TV script for Stuart Carolan.
Northern Irish actor Jamie Dornan picked up two awards, one for his role as the serial killer Paul Spector in The Fall and also best newcomer.
Dornan is likely to be a superstar by this time next year after the film version of 50 Shades of Grey is released. He turned up with his wife Amelia Warner.
He was arguably the biggest star at last night's award ceremony which included two other Irish A-list actors, Colin Farrell and Michael Fassbender. Amelia Warner is an ex of Colin Farrell's.
The Fall won for best drama. Sky series Moone Boy was also a big winner, winning best entertainment programme and best director drama/comedy for Ian Fitzgibbon.
Eva Birthistle won the IFTA for best actress TV for her role as the grieved mother in missing child-drama Amber. Actress Support TV went to Michelle Fairley for her tragic finale season on HBO’s Game of Thrones.
Full list of award winners:
11th Annual Irish Film and Television Awards
Calvary (James Flynn, Chris Clark, Flora Fernandez Marengo, Octagon Films, Reprisal Films)
Neil Jordan, Byzantium (Parallel Films and Number 9 Films)
John Michael McDonagh, Calvary (Octagon Films and Reprisal Films)
Actor in a Lead Role Film
Brendan Gleeson, Calvary (Octagon Films and Reprisal Films)
Actress in a Leading Role Film
Saoirse Ronan, Byzantium (Parallel Films & Number 9 Films)
Actor in a Supporting Role Film
Michael Fassbender, 12 Years A Slave (Entertainment One)
Actress in a Supporting Role Film
Sinead Cusack, The Sea (Samson Films)
George Morrison Feature Documentary
International Film (sponsored by American Airlines)
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Judi Dench Philomena
Drama in association with the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland
The Fall (Stephen Wright, Allan Cubitt, BBC Northern Ireland, Artists Studio)
Director TV Drama
Ian Fitzgibbon, Moone Boy (Grand Pictures, Baby Cow Productions, Hot Cod Productions & Sprout Pictures for Sky 1)
Stuart Carolan, Love/Hate (Octagon Films)
Actor in a Leading Role Television
Jamie Dornan, The Fall (BBC Northern Ireland and Artists Studio)
Actress in a Leading Role Television
Eva Birthistle, Amber (Screenworks)
Actor in a Supporting Role Television
Peter Coonan, Love/Hate (Octagon Films)
Actress in a Supporting Role Television
Michelle Fairley, Game of Thrones (HBO)
Breach of Trust (RTÉ)
John Lonergan’s Circus , devised by Irish Times crime correspondent Conor Lally
Seamus Heaney – Postscript – Imeall
Páidí Ó Sé - Rí an Pharóiste
Irish Film Board Rising Star