Virgin Media Discovers & Screen Ireland Short Film Competition Winners Announced

The winners of the 2022 Virgin Media Discovers & Screen Ireland short film competition were announced today as Nell Hensey and Brigid Leahy Good fries Mary Kirwan and Zoë Brennan-Whitmore Imbalance and Jamie O’Rourke Calf.

Emerging filmmakers will now receive €30,000 to bring their screenplay to life with the production of a 10-minute short film, as well as mentorship, public relations, publicity and marketing support. The final production will air on Virgin Media Television, Virgin Media on Demand and as part of the Dublin International Film Festival events programme.

This year’s mentors include award-winning filmmaker Frank Berry, who will oversee the production of Calfproducer Liz Gill, who will oversee the production of Imbalance and Oscar-nominated director Lenny Abrahamson, who will mentor the production of Good fries.

Bláthnaid of Róiste (Ros na Run, Fair Trade Townand City of Holby), Eilish Kent (Exchange, Rawand Fade St), Gavin Burke (Associate Professor of Screenwriting at IADT), Aileen Docherty (City of Holby, Waterloo Roadand The clinic) and Nadine Flynn (Fair Trade Town and EastEnders) were also mentors in this year’s short film competition.

Good fries takes the audience back to 1989 Dublin, as a Vietnamese immigrant family struggles to keep their takeaway business afloat while their 12-year-old daughter befriends one of the customers, an Irish boy local. After his disappearance, she finds him in an unexpected place.

The comedy Unbalanced’follows a self-deprecating millennial who discovers the love of his life and his colleague on Tinder and must find the confidence to slip right before his going away party, while navigating a fatphobic workplace.

Calf tells the story of a near-fatal farm accident that leaves teenager Cáit with a terrible decision to make in order to do what she must to protect her family.

The finalists were chosen from a shortlist of 10 talented applicants, all of whom received an investment of €6,000 to develop their screenplay with a mentor. The jury included award-winning director and screenwriter Lenny Abrahamson (Adam and Paul, normal people, What Richard did and Bedroom), rising Irish actress, writer and star of the hit crime drama, Close, Claire Dunne; Clinton Liberty who played Kiernan in a global hit drama normal people and Linus in the drama Holding; writer and executive producer Ursula Rani Sarma (delicious, red rock and To choke) as well as representatives from Virgin Media Television, Screen Ireland and the Dublin International Film Festival.

I would like to extend my congratulations to the three winners of the Virgin Media Discovers Short Film competition. Our aim with the competition is to support diverse voices with unique stories to tell and to invest in the future of filmmaking in Ireland as a national broadcaster. I look forward to the screening of all three shorts on Virgin Media Television and wish all winners the best in their future endeavours.

Bill Malone, Director of Content – ​​Virgin Media Televisionnot

Congratulations to everyone who entered and participated in the Virgin Media Discovers Short Film competition. Supporting new talent and investing in the development of diverse voices and stories is fundamental to a growing and evolving creative industry. We are delighted to be able to realize production opportunities for the last three submissions selected. These projects reflect Ireland today, are powerful, thought-provoking and driven by exciting new talent who have shared their personal stories and truths.

Andrew Byrne, Television Project Manager – Screen Ireland

I am delighted to be participating in the Virgin Media Discovers Short Film competition again this year. It’s great to see Virgin Media stepping up to deliver such a massive rewards package for filmmakers. There are so many talented and diverse filmmakers in Ireland who often don’t get the chance to see their films come to life on screen. This competition is an opportunity to discover new filmmakers and provide them with the support, mentorship and investment they need.

Lenny Abrahamson, judge, mentor and Oscar-nominated director

We are delighted to have been shortlisted for the Virgin Media Discovers award and would like to express our huge thanks to Virgin Media and the judges.

As Asian Irish women, we wanted to tell the story of our parents, their different cultural values ​​and how they navigated a new culture. The film is set in 1980s Ireland but deals with modern themes that have resonance in today’s world, especially as there is a noticeable increase in crimes against the Asian community in Ireland and around the world, giving birth to the #stopasianhate movement.

Good fries is a sweet coming-of-age tale about communication and failed connections, presenting an empathetic view of how we can build bridges and work to understand each other. We are delighted to present this fresh and distinctive Irish story which authentically portrays immigrant families to Irish and international audiences.

Nell Hensey, director and co-writer and Brigid Leahy, co-writer of Good fries

It seems a bit surreal to be selected in the bottom three for this year’s Virgin Media Discovers & Screen Ireland short film competition. It’s safe to say that we’re absolutely thrilled to have been cast and in particular with this script, we’re absolutely thrilled to bring it to life. With Ronan and Greg we have formed a great team and we can’t wait to get started.

Jamie O’Rourke, writer/director of Calf

We are delighted to have this opportunity with Virgin Media and Screen Ireland. Initiatives like Virgin Media Discovers are so important in giving a voice to those who would otherwise not be heard.

Big characters are sorely underrepresented on our screens, and that’s why we’re so happy to tell Sadhbh’s story. Advocating for diverse body types and their unique experiences is something our team are incredibly passionate about and with the support of Virgin Media we are delighted to be able to deliver an important message, complete with laughter, to Irish audiences.

Mary Kirwan, writer & Zoë Brennan-Whitmore, director of Imbalance

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