28 Jan 2022

Two young film-makers plot path to Oscar through Offaly

Two young film-makers plot path to Oscar through Offaly

A stark image from the animation film "Her Song" which focusses on the scandal of the Mother and Baby Homes which existed from 1922 to 1998.

Two young, successful filmmakers have spent several months in Birr this year working on their animation film project, and reflected on their time in the town during the recent OFFline film festival in the town.

Éabha Bortolozzo and Jack Kirwan are Irish, multi-award-winning directors who have reached a very high standard in their chosen craft of animation filmmaking. Their exceptional talent has already produced a fair bit of excellent work, which they will hopefully build upon in the years to come.

Since meeting in 2014 in their degree course in IADT Animation, the two have co-directed two short films together. “We met in college in 2014, says Jack, “and hit it off straight away.”

Their first film, The Usual, was well received and selected to screen nationally and internationally at festivals in Asia, the US and in Europe. “We were greatly encouraged by that,” said Éabha, “to receive such a warm reception to our first film.”

“Her Song” is their second film and revolves around the infamous Mother & Baby homes which are a deep scar in our history. 56,000 women spent time in these homes between 1922 and 1998.

Since its completion in March 2020, "Her Song" has secured a longlist nomination for the Academy Awards 2022 and an IFTA for Best Animation as well as numerous other awards. Judging by the trailer it seems obvious why the film has been nominated for the Academy Awards - visually it's very striking, and the drawing skill on show is top notch.

Éabha and Jack recently finished their six-month residency in Birr as part of OFFline Film Festival. The six-month residency is supported by the Trench Trust and Offaly County Council. It provides a fantastic opportunity for young animators to devote six months exclusively to their craft in Birr's inspirational setting. The residency has been running for four years. During their time here, Jack and Éabha developed an idea for their third short film called “Buoy”.

The film is inspired by their personal experiences with sea swimming during the lockdowns in 2020. The film explores how sea swimming can shape a person’s life and guide them through difficult moments. In addition to developing this idea, the pair have also been working on a new film inspired by the surrounding boglands. This film is due to start production in late 2021 with support from Screen Ireland and RTÉ.

“We have loved our residency in Birr,” said Jack. “Birr Castle and the town have been inspirational places for us. The people of Birr have been very friendly.”

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