By Mike Bedigan, PA Los Angeles Correspondent
The team behind Oscar-nominated short film An Irish Goodbye say they hope Irish success at this year’s awards season will provide an opportunity to “redefine the national narrative”.
Director Ross White said Northern Ireland was “at a crossroads moment” and that he was “pining to move on” and present the region in a different way on the global stage.
Helmed by White and Tom Berkeley, the black comedy follows two estranged brothers who come together after their mother’s death to fulfil her bucket list.
It stars actors Seamus O’Hara and James Martin.
An Irish Goodbye is nominated for best live action short film at the 95th Academy Awards, having already scooped the equivalent gong at the Baftas last month.
Speaking to the PA news agency about whether Irish success would have a political impact on the island, White said: “It’s got to. That’s how changes tend to happen, isn’t it? Artists leading from the front and ideas really change things.”
He continued: ”We’re at this kind of crossroads moment, especially in Northern Ireland right now.
“With what’s been going on in the news, in recent weeks, we’ve got this kind of opportunity, it seems to have become a global kind of place.
“You’ve got some people trying to drag the country back, [but] what’s been really refreshing to see is that most people, regardless of their creed or religion, have got no interest in that, and are finally saying, ‘no, we just won’t have that’.
We are absolutely delighted to be one of 15 films shortlisted for Best Live Action Short Film at #Oscars95@TheAcademy https://t.co/Msfb41lXua
— An Irish Goodbye (@AnIrishGoodbye_) December 21, 2022
“We’re ready and we’re pining to move on, create new narratives and show ourselves on the global stage in a different way.”
O’Hara added: “I think the island of Ireland as a whole is in a very unique position at the moment in terms of converging its past, and its history and its memories and trying to redefine the national narrative in terms of how we present ourselves both north and south on the island.
“So we’re in a very unique time where there’s been a lot of work, a lot of great work that, you know, as the foundation that has allowed us to be here, really.”
Irish talent has been well represented in recent months, with nominations across all major awards ceremonies coming for actor Paul Mescal and The Banshees Of Inisherin.
Martin McDonagh’s film has picked up nine total nods at the Oscars, and Mescal joins its star Colin Farrell in the coveted best actor category.
White said the Irish screen industry had been “thriving” for the past few years, due in part to the success of HBO’s hit fantasy series Game Of Thrones, but that the country had always harboured a “tradition of storytelling and literary getaways”.
He said he hoped the success of An Irish Goodbye would inspire others, having seen “somebody a bit like them doing the thing”.
“Game of Thrones came about 20 years back and really started something for our wee country,” he told PA.
“And, you know, in a tumultuous past, it’s been an exciting new chapter for us to be telling the stories.
“We’ve always had that tradition of storytelling and literary getaways, on the stage, but now it’s finding its way onto the screen as well, which is really exciting and given Northern Irish filmmakers a chance to get their work on the screen.”
He continued: “I think it’s really important for anybody in any walk of life to see somebody a bit like them doing the thing.
“I think it really gives people a sense that well, if you can do it maybe, maybe one day, I can give it a go.”
Asked how it felt to be joining acting greats such as Farrell and Brendan Gleeson on the world stage, O’Hara said he and co star Martin “feel the weight of that, in a good way”.
“It’s a nice feeling to be among a company and feel confident and capable, because the work is so strong,” he said.
“We’re so proud of it. It is a great privilege to be among that company and to be representing our countries.
“And we definitely, I think, feel the weight of that in a good way. Because it gives the movie and us a great sense of purpose for what we’re doing and keeps everything in perspective for us.
“It’s a tremendous privilege.”