Oscars 2023: prestigious recognition for Templepatrick-shot film

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A short movie, which was primarily filmed at a farm in Templepatrick, is in the running for an Oscar at the 95th Academy Awards.

The cast and crew of ‘An Irish Goodbye’ will find out on January 24 if they have made the final shortlist in the Live Action Short Film category for this year’s ceremony at the Dolby Theatre at Ovation Hollywood.

A total of 200 short films qualified to be considered for the live action short category and now An Irish Goodbye is one of 15 that have been selected for a shortlist.

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The Academy of Motion Pictures will choose between three and five short films to go forward and compete at the Oscars on Sunday, March 12.

Seamus and James on the set of An Irish Goodbye.Seamus and James on the set of An Irish Goodbye.
Seamus and James on the set of An Irish Goodbye.

Outlining the storyline, a spokesperson for Northern Ireland Screen said: “Set against the backdrop of a working farm in rural Northern Ireland, An Irish Goodbye is a black comedy following the reunion of estranged brothers Turlough and Lorcan following the untimely death of their mother.

"Under the watchful eye of odd-ball parish priest Father O’Shea, the brothers’ pained reunion is worsened by the fact Turlough must now make new care arrangements for Lorcan, who has Down Syndrome.

"A robust and dedicated farmer, Lorcan’s dream of continuing to work the land he grew up on is thwarted when Turlough decides he’s sending him to live with their Aunt on the other side of Ireland.

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"But when the brothers discover an unfulfilled bucket list belonging to their late mother, Lorcan senses an opportunity: he’ll only agree to leave the farm once he and Turlough have themselves completed every single wish on their mother’s list…all one hundred of them.”

The production stars Seamus O’Hara as Turlough (The Northman, Game of Thrones), James Martin as Lorcan (Marcella, Ups and Downs), Paddy Jenkins as Father O’Shea (Hunger, Give My Head Peace) and Michelle Fairley as Grainne (Game of Thrones, Fortitude).

Speaking to the Larne Times, Seamus, who grew up in Cushendun, explained: “For An Irish Goodbye to win an Oscar, it would be a great accolade. I feel extremely privileged to have been part of the film and to have made it to the final 15 films is an incredible honour. Anything after this is just a bonus.

"It’s the only English-language film to have made it this far in the selection process which is a huge achievement.

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"Northern Ireland continuously punches above its weight in the arts, producing world class content and I’m not surprised that this film is doing so well and receiving the plaudits and recognition it’s getting.”

Commenting on the film industry in the province at this time, the former Garron Tower pupil stated: "Northern Ireland receives less funding for the arts than anywhere else in the UK. The sector is chronically underfunded and this has taken its toll on the industry. In these tight margins you have to work that little bit harder.

"I think the sector needs to be respected a little more by the powers that be. Drama provides an opportunity for people to talk freely. There are still conversations that need to happen in our country and film and the arts help get these conversations started. Arts need to receive better funding.”

An Irish Goodbye was written and directed by Tom Berkeley and Ross White.

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Detailing his experiences working with Tom and Ross, as well as the rest of the cast, Seamus, who turned professional 12 years ago, said: “I had one look at the script and I knew it was going to do very well. They are two gentlemen and really kind fellas. I hope to be able to work with them again.

"James, who portrays Lorcan is a great guy. We clicked straight away. We got on really well and we’d be good friends now. We had the same ideas about what we wanted to do with the film. On set you need a degree of seriousness as well as play and we were able to get this balance right.

"I’d worked with Paddy Jenkins on other productions in the past. He’s very talented and a great actor to be around.”

With two weeks to go until the final shortlist has been announced, Seamus plans to be at the ceremony if the film makes the cut.

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The actor, who now lives in Newry with his family, added: “We would absolutely be there. It’s a once in a lifetime experience. We have lived the whole process from being one of 200 short films on the long list to now being one of 15 with the possibility of making the final cut.

"We have also recently found out that we have been long-listed for a BAFTA. If we make the final list of nominations for the BAFTAs we would also be there, although it would be far easier travelling to them than to the Oscars!”

An Irish Goodbye was primarily filmed at a farm in Templepatrick, Co Antrim.

Commenting on some of the locations used, the former Queen’s University Belfast student said: “We were very lucky to have the use of the working farm in Templepatrick for filming. The farmer has an interest in the arts.

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"We didn’t need to do any set dressing. It was alive around us. The Sperrins are also featured in the film. The scenery there was breathtaking and is well represented on the screen.”

Thanking everyone who has supported the film to date, Seamus commented: “My sincerest gratitude to everyone who has supported us. It’s been said that the toughest audience to please is the home audience.

"We have received some amazing feedback from people across Northern Ireland and it really means a lot. Thank you to everyone who has backed the film.”