The inaugural Sky Road TV & Film Festival drew to a close on Sunday 7th September, following a week-end of screenings of an exciting selection of Irish TV and filmmaking talent across features, shorts, documentaries and new media in both English and Irish language, at The Station House Theatre in Clifden Co. Galway. Highlights on Sunday included a screening of The Field, with special guest Jim Sheridan, 25 years after it was first filmed in the locality and the world premiere of Tommy: To Tell You The Truth with comedian Tommy Tiernan in attendance.

The festival brought unexpected stories to audiences throughout the three days, both entertaining and thought-provoking from a broad range of emerging and established filmmakers, all of whom were in the running for the Festival awards which were announced on Sunday following the closing film.

“It’s been an exhilarating and exciting first festival” said Eamonn O Cualain, Festival Chairman. “The quality and quantity of submissions for our first programme enabled us to deliver what we hope has been a unique festival experience. The support and positive feedback has been overwhelming from both the film industry and our audiences. The local goodwill and enthusiasm has been particularly reassuring and encouraging.”

There were nine awards in association with industry organisations TG4, RTE, BAI and the Irish Film Board. The judging panel included a range of figures from the Irish film Industry including Jim Sheridan, Bob Quinn, Ross Whitaker, Martha O’Neill, Paddy Hayes, Jill Beardsworth, Barbara McCann, Loretta Ni Ghabhain and film journalists Daniel Anderson, Tara Brady, Gavin Burke, Donald Clarke, Brogen Hayes and Nicola Timmins.

The winners:

Best Feature Film – A Nightingale Falling
Set in Ireland during The war of Independence, two sisters’ lives are changed forever as they care for a wounded soldier in their home.
Director: Garret Daly/Martina McGlynn. Producer: Martina McGlynn,Gerry Burke, Garret Daly, PJ Curtis

Best Feature Documentary (in association with TG4) – John Sheahan – A Dubliner
A revealing and beautifully made portrait of a man who was an integral part of the national institution that is The Dubliners.
Director: Maurice Sweeney. Producer: Liam McGrath/Ceoladh Sheahan

Best Short Film (in association with The Irish Film Board) – The Abandoning
A film about the memory of a house where the past and present are not separate places
Director: Vanessa Gildea. Producer: Se Merry Doyle

Best Short Film, First Time Director (in association with The Irish Film Board) – The Swing
A coming of age story about two young brothers who find themselves in a perilous situation that kicks up memories of their past
Director: Damien Dunne. Producer: Nora Windeck

Best Short Documentary (in association with RTÉ) – Seamus Heaney – Iarscribhinn – Imeall
This special edition of Imeall celebrates the life and poetry of Seamus Heaney as we visit the farmlands of Bellaghy, Co. Derry that inspired so many of his poems.
Director: Paschal Cassidy. Producer: Maggie Breathnach

Best Documentary Series (in association with BAI) – Ceolchuairt Iamaice
Belfast troubadour Gearoid Mac Lochlainn embarks on a reggae pilgrimage to Jamaica to see if the message of one love that crossed sectarian boundaries in his teenage years in Belfast is still alive in ?Jamaica.
Director: Paddy Hayes. Producer: Laura Ni­ Cheallaigh

Best 3 minute short, New Media, filmed on a mobile or smart device – Turnaround for Little Terns
A news report for RTE which was filmed on an iphone 5S. Wicklow farmer Michael Keegan is hoping to restore the tractor which helped his grandfather win the 1964 World Ploughing Championship.
Director: Philip Bromwell

Best 1 minute short, New Media, filmed on a mobile or smart device – iday
One minute video concentrating on energy and power
Director/producer: Ivor Carroll

The Spirit of the Festival Award was presented in recognition of a film, television programme or event that encapsulates the spirit of the Sky Road TV & Film Festival each year – It Came From Connemara!!
This feature documentary tells the unique story behind Roger Corman’s film factory in Connemara.
Director/Producer: Brian Reddin

TG4 Pitch an idea to make a 25 minute documentary worth €25,000
In a unique and exciting opportunity TG4 offered aspiring filmmakers a chance to pitch their ideas to make a 25 minute documentary worth €25,000. Fifteen original pitches were shortlisted from a total of sixty one entries to pitch to commissioning editors on stage at the Festival in either the Irish or English language. Participants travelled from Dublin, Meath, Clare, Cork, Galway and Connemara.
The winner was Barry Ryan, a native of Clifden with ‘Beyond Reach Of Our Pity’. His idea for a short documentary, about a young boy who died in Letterfrack’s industrial school, was inspired by a line of poetry from Paula Meehan. He will receive an initial €1,000 to develop a detailed written treatment from the synopsis, under the guidance of an experienced TV director. If TG4 considers this treatment of an acceptable standard for production the budget awarded will be €24,000.

“The standard was excellent, very clear pitches were delivered with great passion and belief. The range of ideas was truly amazing from highly personal stories to historical concepts to contemporary social commentary, across a broad geographical spread. While we chose ‘Beyond Reach Of Our Pity’ as the pitch winner we will also request a number of participants to submit their ideas for the next TG4 commissioning round on October 6th. All in all a very stimulating and exciting session.” Proinsias Ni Ghrainne, Commissioning Editor, TG4

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