Katrina Costello’s directorial debut The Silver Branch has won the Hot Docs International Spectrum Audience Award, following its international premiere at the festival earlier this month.
The Silver Branch is a philosophical vision-poem on the life of a farmer-poet Patrick McCormack, who farms in Ireland’s most ancient and rugged landscape — the Burren, in Western Ireland. A wild place where Mesolithic tombs, famine villages and present-day small rocky fields are like jewels telling of our long human story on these hills. Patrick longs to farm in the quite pace his ascendants did. But his life gains a different momentum when he’s called to Battle in the Supreme courts to decide on the fate of this iconic wilderness is an uplifting and emotional celebration of people and place. It captures the delicacy of the natural world; the heart and soul of a Burren farmer-poet, Patrick McCormack and the ancient rural spirit of Ireland which stands behind him.
I was blown away by the audiences’ reaction to The Silver Branch. Each screening played to a full house and the audience were exceptional; they laughed, cried and were carried away on their own journey. It is something that resonated with many people – to the point that the film received a standing ovation after the screening. It was unbelievable, and I was so honoured.
I want to thank Patrick McCormack and his family for sharing their story with us, my family and friends, John Brown and Andrew Murray, our funders the IFB, BAI and Irish Tax Incentive and the many, many friends who supported me from the beginning of its creation to the end. I am also, so deeply grateful to the Hot Docs programmers who embraced the documentary, especially given we are currently without sales/distributors/programmers attached to the project.
Katrina Costello, Director
Produced by Ken O’Sullivan of Sea Fever Productions, The Silver Branch explores the relationship between man and landscape, between tradition and spirit, between body and soul. The film was funded by Bord Scannán na hÉireann/Irish Film Board, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, and the Irish Incentive for Film and Television Section 481.
Now in its 25th year, the festival screened over 320 of the best new documentaries from across the world In addition to winning the International Spectrum Audience Award, the film also came seventh in the Top 20 Audience Favourites at Hot Docs.