Last night the Galway Film Fleadh came to an end with a glittering awards ceremony that celebrated the best in Irish and international films that featured during the prestigious festival. Amongst the winners was Underground Films’ latest production, One Million Dubliners, which, alongside Sinead O’Brien’s Blood Fruit, won the coveted Best Irish Feature Documentary. The win followed on from the film’s World Premiere at the Fleadh in the Town Hall Theatre in Galway on Saturday, July 12th, which was attended by the filmmakers, representatives of Glasnevin Cemetery and family and friends of Shane MacThomáis, the central figure in the film.
One Million Dubliners is a documentary like no other, touching on stories celebrating life, mourning death, examining belief, and exploring love and loss. The film introduces the audience to a range of extraordinary characters, both living and dead, and with a firm focus on life, it delves into the business of death. The premiere screening was welcomed with sustained applause and a standing ovation from the sold-out venue.
The film marks Aoife Kelleher’s feature directorial debut, and following the award announcement she commented “We are grateful and overwhelmed to have won the award for Best Irish Feature Documentary. We had always wanted to have the world premiere of One Million Dubliners at the Galway Film Fleadh and the response to the film in Galway surpassed all of our hopes. We are thrilled for the staff of Glasnevin, without whom the film could not have been made, and for the family and friends of Shane MacThomáis, several of whom attended the screening on Saturday. Making this film, with its remarkable subject and such a brilliant team, has been a privilege and it’s wonderful that it has been honoured in this way.”
Rachel Lysaght, producer, noted the commitment of the director and the filmmaking team, saying “We are deeply honoured and so proud that One Million Dubliners has won the Best Irish Feature Documentary Award. Our world premiere was an incredibly moving experience, we sold out the Town Hall Theatre and people queued in the rain for their tickets. When the Galway audience took to their feet for a standing ovation we didn’t think it could get any better. Our goal was always to make this film for communal viewing, for a cinematic experience. The generosity of the audience in voting our film to the top spot is a testament to Aoife and the team’s success in this aim, and to the powerful onscreen presence of Shane MacThomáis and the rest of the characters who populate Glasnevin Cemetery. We can’t wait to bring the film to a wider audience, and are working towards a theatrical release to coincide with All Souls’ Day in November.”
Glasnevin Cemetery is Ireland’s national necropolis, home to over one million people who by their final resting place, are honorary Dubliners. The cemetery has a remarkable history which makes it one of Ireland’s most popular tourist attractions, along with being a place that evokes profound emotions for its regular visitors. One Million Dubliners reveals the often unspoken stories of ritual, love, loss, redemption, emotion and history.
Above all, it’s the story of an immensely engaging Tour Guide shepherding his charges – and us – through the headstones and monuments, through opinions and beliefs. It’s a documentary film that offers a glimpse into the unknown, a world that we will all come to share, one of the two certain things in life. As we get to know the characters who populate the national necropolis, those people who choose to spend their life among the dead, we will also gain an insight into how we live and die in 21st century Ireland.
Underground Films had a double success last night, with another production, Terry McMahon’s Patrick’s Day, picking up an award for Best Irish Feature, which it shared with Gerard Barrett’s Glassland.
One Million Dubliners is an Underground Films production in association with RTÉ, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, Shoot for the Moon and with the participation of Fís Éireann/Screen Ireland (FÉ/SI) is the national development agency for Irish filmmaking and the Irish film, television and animation industry. / The Irish Film Board.