Iftas 2021: Normal People, Smother and Dating Amber top nominations

Sally Rooney adaption scoops 15 nominations. Nika McGuigan up for posthumous award

The nominations for the 2021 Iftas – the Irish Film and Television Academy awards – in the film and TV drama categories have been unveiled. David Freyne's Dating Amber, a charming comedy starring Fionn O'Shea and Lola Petticrew, topped the film chart, with eight nominations. In TV drama, Normal People, the hit adaptation of Sally Rooney's novel, scooped up a staggering 15 nominations.

The Covid crisis offered challenges to the Irish production and exhibition sectors, but there was sufficient activity to generate six worthy nominees for best film. Joining Dating Amber in that race are Paddy Slattery's Broken Law, a hard-hitting urban drama; Phyllida Lloyd's Herself, a tale of domestic abuse written by and starring Clare Dunne; Lorcan Finnegan's Vivarium, an acclaimed horror that premiered in Cannes two years ago; Cathy Brady's Wildfire, an intense drama from the border counties and – among the most acclaimed Irish films of recent years – Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart's Oscar-nominated animation Wolfwalkers. There is sometimes a bias against animation from awards bodies, but Cartoon Saloon, the Kilkenny-based producer of Wolfwalkers, did take the best film prize in 2015 for Song of the Sea. So it must be a contender.

There is a poignant flavour to the best-actress competition, with Nika McGuigan receiving a posthumous nomination for her coruscating performance in Wildfire. McGuigan, daughter of the boxer Barry McGuigan, died in 2019 at the age of 33. Her costar Nora-Jane Noone is also nominated. Premiered at last year's Toronto International Film Festival, Wildfire has not yet been released in this territory. Best actress is fiercely competitive, with Jessie Buckley, intense in Charlie Kaufman's I'm Thinking of Ending Things; Lola Petticrew, touching in Dating Amber; and Clare Dunne, heart-rending in Herself, also vying for the Ifta.

Ciarán Hinds, up for The Man in the Hat; Fionn O'Shea from Dating Amber; Gabriel Byrne, nominated for Death of a Ladies' Man; Moe Dunford, tough in Knuckledust, and Tristan Heanue, eye-catching in Broken Law, compete for best actor.


Denied her customary slot at the Oscars, Saoirse Ronan has secured a place among the best-supporting-actress nominees for her turn as a fossil hunter in the lesbian romance Ammonite.

Nobody will be surprised at the avalanche of nominations for Normal People. Emerging in April of last year, the series, starring Paul Mescal and Daisy Edgar-Jones, became the defining hit of lockdown. Mescal, who won a Bafta earlier this month for the role, is one of four Irish actors nominated at the domestic event. Fionn O'Shea, Desmond Eastwood and Sarah Greene are all up in supporting categories. The former Oscar nominee Lenny Abrahamson is mentioned as best director for the series. Smother, the hit whodunit, also did well, picking up a thumping 11 nominations.

The George Morrison Feature Documentary Award features an especially strong line-up this year. Finding Jack Charlton nods to the nation's favourite Englishman. Phil Lynott: Songs for While I'm Away tells the story of that rock poet's struggles. Pat Collins's Henry Glassie: Field Work looks at a renowned folklorist. Breaking Out examines the late musician Fergus O'Farrell. The 8th is a terrific treatment of the campaign to repeal The Eighth Amendment. Tomorrow Is Saturday treats the Irish artist Sean Hillen with charm and delicacy. Any would be a worthy winner.

“This year’s nominations are an incredible reflection of the high-calibre talent of Irish filmmakers, who are producing world-class standards of production and storytelling on screen,” Áine Moriarty, Ifta’s chief executive, says. “The Irish academy is proud to showcase and acknowledge their great achievements. This past year and a half has been difficult for everyone across the globe, and it’s heartening now to see things opening back up, including our cinemas nationwide, and we urge everyone to go see this incredible array of movies on the big screen near you. Cinema is above all a communal experience.”

Ifta shows have been erratically spaced in recent years. There was no ceremony in 2019. The awards for work released in 2018 and 2019 were presented at a virtual ceremony in October 2020. This year’s show, again a virtual event, will be broadcast on Virgin Media One on Sunday, July 4th.



Best film

Broken Law  
Dating Amber           

Director film

Cathy Brady – Wildfire                     
David Freyne – Dating Amber                     
Lorcan Finnegan – Vivarium           
Paddy Slattery – Broken Law                      
Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart – Wolfwalkers

Script film

Cathy Brady – Wildfire                     
Clare Dunne and Malcolm Campbell – Herself                      
David Freyne – Dating Amber                     
Paddy Slattery – Broken Law                      
Will Collins – Wolfwalkers

Lead actor film

Ciarán Hinds – The Man In The Hat            
Fionn O'Shea – Dating Amber                      
Gabriel Byrne – Death of a Ladies Man                   
Moe Dunford – Knuckledust            
Tristan Heanue – Broken Law

Lead actress film

Clare Dunne – Herself                       
Jessie Buckley – I'm Thinking of Ending Things                
Lola Petticrew – Dating Amber                   
Nika McGuigan – Wildfire                
Nora-Jane Noone – Wildfire

Supporting actor film

Barry Ward – Dating Amber            
Brian Gleeson – Death of a Ladies Man                   
Colm Meaney – Pixie            
Conleth Hill – Herself           
Ned Dennehy – Undergods

Supporting actress film       

Ally Ni Chiarain – Broken Law                     
Kathy Kiera Clarke – A Bend in the River               
Molly McCann – Herself                   
Saoirse Ronan – Ammonite              
Sharon Horgan – Dating Amber


Best drama                       

Blood Season 2                     
Dead Still                   
Line of Duty Season 6                      
Normal People                      
Vikings Season 6

Director drama             

Dathaí Keane – Smother                   
Dearbhla Walsh – Fargo                   
Imogen Murphy – Dead Still            
Lenny Abrahamson – Normal People                     
Steve St. Leger – Vikings Season 6

Script drama                   

Declan Lawn and Adam Patterson – The Salisbury Poisonings                   
John Morton – Dead Still                  
Kate O'Riordan – Smother               
Lisa McGee – The Deceived              
Sally Rooney – Normal People

Lead actor drama                    

Adrian Dunbar – Line of Duty Season 6                  
Brendan Gleeson – The Comey Rule           
James Nesbitt – Bloodlands             
Michael Smiley – Dead Still              
Paul Mescal – Normal People

Lead actress drama                 

Aisling Franciosi – Black Narcissus             
Catherine Walker – The Deceived               
Dervla Kirwan – Smother                 
Eve Hewson – Behind Her Eyes                   
Niamh Algar – Raised By Wolves

Supporting actor drama                  

Andrew Scott – His Dark Materials             
Colm Meaney – Gangs of London                
Desmond Eastwood – Normal People                     
Éanna Hardwicke – Smother           
Fionn O'Shea – Normal People

Supporting actress drama              

Fiona Shaw – Killing Eve                  
Gemma-Leah Devereux – Smother              
Nicola Coughlan – Bridgerton                      
Sarah Greene – Normal People                    
Seána Kerslake – Smother


Feature documentary            

Breaking Out            
Finding Jack Charlton                      
Henry Glassie: Field Work               
Phil Lynott: Songs for While I'm Away                   
The 8th                      
Tomorrow is Saturday

Short film            

Five Letters to the Stranger Who Will Dissect My Brain            
Kathleen Was Here              
My Other Suit Is Human                  
The Invisible Boy

Short animation           

Gunter Falls in Love             
Her Song                   
The Dead Hands of Dublin              
The Voyage               
Zog and the Flying Doctors



Cathal Watters – Smother                
Ciaran Tanham – Dead Still              
James Mather – Here are the Young Men               
Kate McCullough – Normal People              
Suzie Lavelle – Normal People


Aisling Wallace Byrne – Here are the Young Men             
Joan O'Clery – Dating Amber            
Leonie Prendergast – Gretel & Hansel                    
Lorna Marie Mugan – Normal People                     
Triona Lillis – Smother


Colin Campbell – Here are the Young Men             
Gráinne Gavigan – Dead Still           
Nathan Nugent – Normal People                 
Tony Cranstoun – Vivarium             
Úna Ní Dhonghaíle – Misbehaviour

Production design                   

John Leslie – Son                   
Lucy van Lonkhuyzen – Normal People                 
Philip Murphy – Vivarium                
Ray Ball – Sea Fever              
Tamara Conboy – Herself


Aza Hand and Patrick Drummond – Son                    
Hugh Fox, Fionán Higgins and Mark Henry – Smother                     
Kieran Horgan and Brendan Rehill – Phil Lynott: Songs for While I'm Away                    
Patrick Drummond, Aza Hand, Katie O'Mahony and Adrian Conway – Here are the Young Men            
Steve Fanagan, Niall Brady, and Niall O Sullivan – Normal People

Make up and hair                

Jennie Readman and Niamh O'Loan – Vivarium                    
Linda Gannon Foster and Jennifer Hegarty – Dead Still                   
Linda Gannon Foster and Liz Byrne – Gretel & Hansel                     
Sandra Kelly and Sharon Doyle – Normal People                  
Siobhan Harper-Ryan – I Hate Suzie


Aza Hand – Son                     
Colm Mac Con Iomaire – A Bend in the River                     
John McPhillips – Smother               
Ray Harman – Blood Season 2                     
Stephen Rennicks – Normal People


Jim O'Hagan and Ed Bruce – WandaVision                
Ed Bruce – Shadow and Bone                      
Ed Bruce – Kidding