Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Some further thoughts on the IFTA Nominations

There seems to be something of a calendar issue that the IFTA awards haven't quite got to grips with over the eight years of their more recent incarnation.

I suspect that this is because the awards are caught between, on the one hand, applauding successful work and, on the other, marketing new Irish films so that they can be sold to cinema audiences as IFTA winners. The two aspirations don't quite fit together comfortably in the same awards context.

It could be that the backers of the awards, the Broadcasters and the IFB, place different demands on IFTA. A scan of the TV nomination lists reveals nothing that has not been broadcast whereas several of the Irish feature films have been shown only to very limited audiences at one or two festivals.

With one exception (a performance in an Irish film) the international nominee categoies all relate to films that are already distributed - even the King's Speech gets in by a whisker.

If one compares the Dublin Film Critics Circle top ten Irish titles of 2010 with the IFTA nominations (see below, I've italicised the documentary titles) there seems to be an unusually small amount of overlap.

Perrier's Bounty (four IFTA nominations) didn't make the critics' top ten, nor did Swansong (five IFTA nominations) and some of the films on the critics' list - like Savage and Zonad - were nominees at last year's awards, before they were released.

I don't believe that this accounts for one particularly glaring omission from the IFTAs, Ivan Kavanagh's The Fading Light, or for the absence of All Good Children which was released before the year end. Unless no submissions were received for either film, which would itself raise a plethora of other questions.

Dublin Film Critics Circle Best Irish Film 2010
1. His & Hers
2. Savage
3. The Fading Light
4. The Pipe
5. Zonad
6. All Good Children
7. Pyjama Girls
8. Eamon
9. Foxes
10. Colony
[numbers in bold refer to IFTA nominees last year]

I have been a jury member at the IFTAs and I believe they are a very positive development for the film and TV industry. They give credit where credit is due, and it comes from where it's most welcome - one's colleagues. That said, a little clarification about calendar and submission criteria would go a long way.


Anonymous said...

I think you're right: the total number of nominations is alarmingly low and would explain any glaring ommisions. You previous post shows round 60 nominations in the film section (hard to know to how many subcategories these nominations are applied to).

How does the nomination process work, and who is allowed to nominate in each category?

irish film portal said...

Am I right in thinking that you believe the number of different film titles is low across all the film categories?

As far as I am aware producers, distributors, broadcasters etc. submit films, programmes, performances, Heads of Department, etc. and panels in each category shortlist the nominations from these submissions.

As I understand it each submission (for each award category) costs a submission fee. These fees would mount up considerably for a small producer who wanted to submit their project and talent in several categories.

I have always wondered what would happen if a very high quality low budget project were not submitted just because its producer had not the resources to do so across all the valid entry categories. I would hope the Academy might step in in some way to remedy the omission.

Anonymous said...

Irish Film Portal. You mention one glaring omission with the Fading Light. I would like to agree with you on that. However i would like to mention one glaring omission from you with regard to an Irish film which doesn't even get a mention on your website, didn't get nominated for an Ifta and seems to be completely ignored or else unknown by the industry.It is in my opinion the best Irish film of the year alongside His and Hers. This film is 'Between the Canals' starring Damien Dempsey. It's the most realistic irish gangster film ever made, with real criminals playing in the lead roles. It's a standout Irish film which will be remembered long after 'Perriers Bounty' or Zonad or many of the Critics circle list or Ifta nominations. I just wonder who is voting for the IFTA's because the nominations were laughable this year. Between the Canals is a Gem of a film which in 20 years time will be remembered as the best film of 2010.

irish film portal said...

I haven't seen the film so I can't comment on its merits, and I've not been reviewing films here over the last year so, really, there is no omission. Plenty of other Irish titles have not been mentioned here either.
The film was listed here among the Irish titles being shown at the Galway Film Fleadh last July, with a link to its details on the Fleadh website. So Between the Canals has been treated no better or worse than the other Irish titles being shown at Irish festivals over the last year.
I think I recall that the film did get positive coverage from the Fleadh screening. If you have any more information about the film - when and if it's going to be released - do let me know.
It would also be interesting to know if it was submitted to the IFTAs in any categories, because it can only have been voted on if it was submitted. If not then it may be eligible in 2012 if it is released during the year ahead.
I only mentioned The Fading Light because it was actually released during the year and received very positive critical reaction.

Fred said...

The 'push' (i.e. filmmaker-driven) submission process you describe sounds a little bizarre: if a filmmaker or distributor "submits" a film, it is then given due consideration, but if the filmmaker/distributor cannot or does not bother to submit, the Academy has no power to shortlist or nominate anyway? An aggressive distributor, for instance, could submit countless projects of dubious merit, while a distributor who doesn't give a toss about the IFTAs, who has distributed a successful film, can effectively withhold the film from consideration, therefore contributing to a distorted impression of the industry among the non-insider audience that watches the IFTA awards broadcast?

And what do make of the distinction between Irish and International projects. If a film's producer and director is Irish, but the film is financed, cast and filmed in the UK, is it an International film? Karl Golden's "Pelican Blood" would be in this category. I attended an IFTA screening of this excellent film as a guest so I know it was in the running for nominations, but I assume these nominations would cross Irish and International categories.

Of course, films like "The Fading Light" may have been submitted and failed to receive the necessary support to make the cut. Personally, the only category I'm surprised to see it not nominated in is Actor Lead Role.

Speaking of which -- why only four nominations, against five in the Actress Lead Role category? In fact why is Actress Lead Role the ONLY category with five nominations?

Shtrange shtuff.

irish film portal said...

Fred, the 'push' process you describe is fairly standard internationally among film award Academies like the IFTAs. There is generally a submission fee for each category and in the low budget production context in Ireland this could mount up for a small producer.
Since the awards process is costly these charges are imposed. I've never heard of an official fail-safe system for worthy niminees who are not submitted. They could be termed 'wildcard submissions' and it may be the case that something along these lines does happen. If the full list of submissions were revealed we might have a better idea.
On the national or international question, as an example, Jim Sheridan was nominated as best director last year for Brothers, an international title. Karl Golden could have been submitted in the same category this year for Pelican Blood.
The Lead Actress category is a particular case this year - it is split across film & TV because there were insufficient submissions for Lead Actress - Film. Basically the two formats have been lumped together, which may explain why there are five nominees (but does not justify it).