Irish Film and Television Academy Unveils Rising Star Award Nominees

Rebecca Daly's 'Mammal' made its debut at the Sundance Film Festival

CANNES — The Irish Film and Television Academy has revealed its Rising Star Award nominees, who are writer-directors Rebecca Daly, Alex Fegan and Stephen Fingleton, and actor Barry Ward. The winner will be announced at the IFTA Film and Drama Awards ceremony on April 9.

The award, sponsored by the Irish Film Board, puts a spotlight on Irish professionals who have “not only honed their crafts in the formative years of their career, but who have also excelled in their respective fields.” Previous recipients include Saoirse Ronan, Michael Fassbender, Domhnall Gleeson, John Michael McDonagh and Jamie Dornan.

Daly made her feature debut “The Other Side of Sleep,” written with Glenn Montgomery and starring Antonia Campbell-Hughes, in 2011. The film was selected for the Cannes Résidence du Festival and premiered in the Directors’ Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival.

She followed that with the “powerful and morally complex” feature “Mammal,” starring Rachel Griffiths in the lead role alongside up-and-coming Irish actor Barry Keoghan. It made its debut at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Variety described it as an “elegant, elliptical character study of a shuttered divorcee and a feral delinquent.”

Fegan’s 2009 no-budget sci-fi feature called “Man Made Men” premiered at the Galway Film Fleadh to rave reviews. His debut feature documentary “The Irish Pub” secured a general release in cinemas across Ireland in 2014, and played in 2015 on Irish TV channel RTE One, and the History Channel in Australia and New Zealand, and sold to Netflix.

In 2015, Fegan directed “Older Than Ireland,” which looks at the lives of 30 people in Ireland aged 100 years of age or older. The film won best Irish documentary at the Galway Film Fleadh, and he was nominated for the Bingham Ray New Talent Award. It was picked up by Element Pictures Distribution and went on theatrical release in September, becoming one of Ireland’s most successful documentaries of all time.

Northern Irish writer/director Stephen Fingleton’s screenplay for “The Survivalist” was voted by Hollywood film executives onto the Black List and topped the U.K. equivalent, the Brit List, for the year’s best unproduced scripts in 2013.

“The Survivalist” premiered last year at the Tribeca Film Festival to critical praise. Fingleton won a special jury mention in Tribeca’s best new narrative director category, a British Independent Film Award for debut feature, and the Citizen Kane award for new director from the Sitges Film Festival. He was nominated for an outstanding debut by BAFTA as well as being recognized as a BAFTA Breakthrough Talent. The film has been nominated for four IFTA Awards, including film and director.

Ward began his career at the age of 14 in Roddy Doyle’s BBC drama “Family,” and by the age of 16 he had completed a BBC six-part series “Plotlands.” His first feature, “Sunburn,” shot in the U.S., featuring Cillian Murphy. Eclectic roles across film and television followed including “The Claim” (opposite Peter Mullan), “Watchmen” (opposite Murphy) and “City of Vice” (opposite James McEvoy).

A big break for Ward came in 2013 when he was cast in the lead role in Ken Loach’s “Jimmy’s Hall.” Ward received rave reviews for his performance as Jimmy Gralton in the period drama, which premiered at Tribeca 2013 and went on to screen in cinemas around the world.

This year Ward has had starring roles in three television and film projects, and cemented his status as one of Ireland’s rising stars. In Paul Mercier’s “Pursuit,” an adaptation of Irish classic “Diarmuid and Grainne,” Ward took the lead in the film opposite Ruth Bradley, with a cast that also included Brendan Gleeson and Liam Cunningham. In RTÉ drama series “Rebellion,” Ward was one of five leads playing soldier Arthur Mahon opposite Ruth Bradley, Brian Gleeson, Charlie Murphy, and last year’s Rising Star winner, Sarah Greene. In Declan Recks’ political thriller “The Truth Commissioner,” which received an Irish cinema release as well as being broadcast on BBC in the U.K., Ward played ex-IRA man Michael Madden opposite Roger Allam, Simone Kirby and Sean McGinley.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • German Cinema Is Diverse, But Is

    German Cinema Is Varied, But Is It Too Risk Averse?

    One of the strengths of German cinema is its diversity, says Simone Baumann, managing director of the national film promotion agency German Films. As well as the three films at Toronto directed by female German helmers, there was also German filmmaker Thomas Heise’s documentary film essay “Heimat Is a Space in Time.” Then there were [...]

  • Female Filmmakers in Germany Make Progress

    Female Filmmakers Surge Forward in Germany, But Still Face Obstacles

    Four feature films by German filmmakers screened at the Toronto Film Festival, and three of them were directed by women – Angela Schanelec’s “I Was at Home, But…,” winner of the Berlinale’s best director prize, Ina Weisse’s “The Audition,” and Katrin Gebbe’s “Pelican Blood,” the latter two both starring Nina Hoss. Germany’s Oscar entry this [...]

  • Bull

    Annie Silverstein's 'Bull' Takes Top Awards, Robert Pattinson Starrer 'The Lighthouse' Wins Jury Prize at Deauville

    Annie Silverstein’s feature debut “Bull” swept three awards at the 45th Deauville American Film Festival, including the Grand Prize, the Revelation Prize for best first film and the Critics’ Prize. “Bull,” a portrait of a rebellious teenage girl from South Texas, world premiered at Cannes’s Un Certain Regard and marks Silverstein’s follow up to her [...]

  • Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez star

    Jennifer Lopez's 'Criminal' Striptease: How 'Hustlers' Landed the Fiona Apple Hit

    Contrary to what you might be expecting, the number of songs by Jennifer Lopez, Lizzo and Cardi B in “Hustlers,” their newly released acting vehicle, adds up to … zero. Meanwhile, the standout music sync in a movie that’s full of them belongs to no less likely a choice than Fiona Apple. The scene in [...]

  • Game of Thrones Season 8

    'Game of Thrones,' 'Avengers' Win Big at 45th Annual Saturn Awards

    As Jamie Lee Curtis picked up her first trophy ever at the 45th Annual Saturn Awards Friday night, she had a good luck charm on her arm: former manager Chuck Binder, whom she said was the reason she became an actor. “I was in college and had no thought of being an actor,” Curtis told [...]

  • Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu star

    Box Office: 'Hustlers' Dances Toward $32 Million Opening Weekend

    “Hustlers” is eyeing the biggest opening weekend ever for STXFilms, following a Friday domestic ticket haul of $13.1 million from 3,250 theaters. If estimates hold, the stripper saga could take home around $32 million come Sunday, marking the best live-action opening of Jennifer Lopez’s career. “Hustlers” follows a group of former strip club dancers, led [...]

  • Hustlers intimacy coordinator

    Meet the Stripper Consultant Who Gave 'Hustlers' Authenticity, Dignity and Sexual Freedom

    At last week’s Toronto Film Festival premiere of “Hustlers,” an audience of Hollywood heavyweights and Canadian locals applauded as a statuesque woman strutted on stage, rocking six-inch platform heels and a pastel tie-dye bodysuit. This adoration was not for stars Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu or Keke Palmer, nor was it for the film’s acclaimed writer-director [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content