Don’t chalk up the Irish Film Board’s record presence in this year’s Oscar nominations to plain old luck — the organization that invests in and nurtures Irish talent more than earned the recognition.
As financial backers and advocates, the IFB made a big splash with three nominations for “Brooklyn” (Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Actress for Saoirse Ronan) and “Room” (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay ad Best Actress for Brie Larson).
“We hadn’t quite realized how intense it would be,” said IFB Chief Executive James Hickey.
“We’re very heartened that there’s a number of successful outcomes this year for Irish creative talent,” agreed Ed Guiney, co-founder of Element Pictures, whch produced “Room” and the Colin Farrell‘s Cannes hit “The Lobster.”
“It’s long-term development, funding, production funding, and giving opportunity,” he said.
“Room” picked up serious steam after Larson garnered early awards like the Gotham for her performance as a mother caring for her young son under unimaginable conditions.
“We needed the boost that we got,” Hickey said. ” We were hopeful that Brie would get nominated and [screenwriter] Emma Donoghue, but weren’t that optimistic about the picture and Lenny Abrahamson — not that he doesn’t deserve it, it’s just an incredibly competitive category.”
Hickey recalls early the early days of screening the film for distributor A24, who “half-jokingly” outlined an awards strategy that would unfold from first glances at Telluride to the a buzzy Toronto debut.
“It’s all been incredibly gratifying,” he said.
The IFB has hands in the upcoming Weinstein release “Sing Street,” and will prepare to welcome “Star Wars: Episode VIII” to its native shores for filming, which is currently underway.
And finally, the real question — where on earth does an Irishman find a slice of home in Los Angeles in February? West Hollywood’s Laurel Hardware.
“Well we’re having an event there, and the owners of the place are from Blackrock in County Dublin, so they’ll be reminding us of home when they get there.”