There’s something about Irish made films, they always seem to have a certain depth, sorrow and dark humour to them. I think the Irish have a natural talent for story telling that encompasses Irishness as whole, yet is unique enough from other films and filmmakers, which sets them aside from the rest of Hollywood. The Irish film industry is growing with Variety magazine saying that “Ireland has become a capital of filmmaking”. Over the years Irish filmmaking talents have become more recognised on an international stage from writers, producers and directors.
Over recent years many Irish directors have received major acclaim for their films from Academy awards to Cannes films festival. Here is 5 Irish successful directors.
1. Lenny Abrahamson
Lenny Abrahamson, is an Irish director born in Dublin in 1966. He studied at Dublin’s very own Trinity college. Studying physics and philosophy whilst making short films on the side, in the video society which he co founded in Trinity. Abrahamson’s first major film was Adam and Paul, a 2004 bleak comedy film which centres on two drug addicted friends who are constantly fixed on their next hit. The film received great reviews and critical acclaim, Adam & Paul has won the Best Director Award, as well as being nominated in 8 categories at the 2nd Irish Film & Television Awards. These include Best Irish Film, Best Script, Best Actor and Best Music.
He has also directed acclaimed independent films including Frank, Garage and What Richard did. All these films star Irish actors and have contributed to his 6 Irish film and television awards.
Abrahamson’s arguably biggest film is Academy Award winning Room based on the novel of the same name by Emma Donoghue. The 2015 film starring Brie Larson received widespread acclaim.
He also recently directed 6 episodes of the hit Irish drama TV show Normal People.
Check out our article on normal people here: 7 Important Life Lessons from Normal People.
2. Jim Sheridan
This acclaimed Irish director and story teller was born in 1949 in Dublin and moved to America in 1981. His first film was My Left Foot, which is about the Irish artist Christy Brown, who only had control of his left foot. The film stars famous actor Daniel Day Lewis. His first film was a surprise success receiving critical acclaim. He followed the success of My Left Foot, with The Field adapted from the play of the same name which was Game of Thrones, Sean Bean’s debut film.
Sheridan received further critical acclaim for his Academy Award nominated and famous Irish film, In the Name of the Father, which also starred Daniel Day Lewis. The film focuses on the true story of the Guildford Four. In 2003 he released the highly personal and semi-autobiographical In America, which is one of my favourite films by Sheridan. The film is about a Irish immigrant family who move to New York for a better life, the film is seen through the eyes of the family’s eldest daughter. The family lived in Hell’s Kitchen in New York, which is where Sheridan lived when he moved to New York.
His more recent filmography includes Brothers, starring Natalie Portman and Jake Gyllenhaal and Dream House starring James Bond actor Daniel Craig.
3. Kirsten Sheridan
Kirsten is an Irish film director who happens to be the daughter of aforementioned Jim Sheridan. She helped to Co-write the film In America with her family. She was born in Dublin and relocated with her father and family to New York. She started filming short films before her first major feature film, which was Disco Pigs, starring Cillian Murphy. It follows two best friends from Cork, whose lifelong and unhealthy relationship begins to implode. Her other famous films include the 2007 film August Rush, a musical drama film involving an orphaned 11 year old musical prodigy.
4. John Crowley
Crowley was born in 1989, Cork, and studied at the University of Cork doing both his Bachelors and Masters. He first began directing plays in Dublin in the 90’s and then moved onto films. His feature debut was Intermission which is a black comedy film starring famous Irish actors, Colin Farrell and Cillian Murphy. He also directed the thought provoking film Boy A, in 2007 which won a BAFTA. He has also directed episodes of the famous HBO drama True Detective.
His best known film is Brooklyn, which came out in 2015. It is a romantic drama film which follows a young woman, played by Saoirse Ronan, who emigrates during the 1950s to New York, Brooklyn. The film received widespread acclaim and was nominated for many awards. Brooklyn is a great film you should watch if you haven’t already.
5. John Carney
This director was born in Dublin and is best known for his low budget musical drama films. His best known films are the 2007 romantic film Once, which focuses on two struggling musicians in Dublin. It received acclaim from critics in Ireland and abroad and also produced the Academy Award winning song Falling Slowly written and performed by Glen Hansard who also stars in the films. Listen to Falling Slowly here, Falling Slowly on Spotify.
His more recent success is the 2016 film Sing Street, which is a coming of age drama set in Dublin in the 1980s. The story centres on a teenage boy starting a band to impress the girl he likes. The film was a hit and was nominated for a Golden Globe that year.