The not-so-Irish Film and Television Awards

A group of actors at the 2011 IFTAs (via Wikimedia Commons)

The Irish Film and Television Awards have gotten a kicking since they were broadcast on Saturday February 11. There was a bizarre moment when Kathryn Thomas allegedly stormed the stage at the after-party and gave out to the lead singer of Alabama 3 for inciting “riots”. The Catholic Church was not impressed that Prime Time Investigates won Best Current Affairs/News after the Father Kevin Reynolds libel case. Loose definitions of Irishness were used in some nominations- Game of Thrones, HBO’s fantasy epic, was partly shot in Northern Ireland so it qualified for an IFTA nomination. Brenda Fricker called the ceremony “cringe-worthy.”  The people of Ireland reacted with the usual scorn reserved only for RTE.

The awards themselves, compered by Simon Delaney, were predictably boring, but then again, all award ceremonies are. We watch for the wit of the hosts- usually a mildly incisive, but never offensive, somewhat funny repartee. We watch to gawk at our celebrity idols, to marvel at their luvvie speeches and their grace. We watch to see what they wear. We watch in case someone has a mental breakdown on the red-carpet. If most people are honest, they don’t really watch to see who wins.

Who won the IFTAs? Brilliant Galway-set The Guard scooped most of the film awards, and Love/Hate swept the TV board. Michael Fassbender won the best actor gong for Shame. So far, so predictable.

Of course they are predictable. The Irish film industry produces a handful of movies a year. RTE deserves the criticism it gets for not having the imagination to fund exciting new projects, instead going for boring, safe options. It seems that they will always prefer to splash a lick of green paint over a British reality format than fund a quality Irish drama. TV3 lacks RTE’s funding for drama and again, relies on reality and imports. TG4 makes quality drama but is limited by its small budget and its perceived minority status.

With all this considered, is it any wonder that the IFTAs roll out the same faces every year? Rather than self-congratulation, it might be better to take the kinder view that the IFTAs intend to promote talent on a very small island. It’s hardly fair to compare them with the Oscars.

However, there is one thing the IFTA’s can improve on for next year: they can take the full-length dress stipulation off the invites. This year’s red-carpet was incredibly disappointing, with only Chris O’Dowd’s fiancée Dawn Porter ignoring the rule in a black and silver dress, which, although nice, wouldn’t have looked out of place in Karma.

Laura Whitmore was probably the best dressed on the night, although her red gown was nothing special. It’d be hard to make that girl look ugly. The fashion was a pale imitation of that at the BAFTAs. It could be argued that the entire ceremony is a facsimile of the BAFTAs down to the name.

But who knows what the tenth IFTAs in 2013 hold? More of the same, or something new?

This article appeared in Sin on February 27 2012. 

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