THE Irish Oscar winners and nominees of 2023 have been treated to a special audience with the President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins at his Dublin residence, Áras an Uachtaráin.
An Irish Goodbye star James Martin and co-director Ross White were in attendance for the reception, entitled Celebrating the Irish Film, Audio-Visual and Performing Arts Communities, which was held on St Patrick’s Day.
The Banshees of Inisherin star Brendan Gleeson, and The Quiet Girl’s Catherine Clinch were also at the event, which welcomed scores of Irish people who work within the entertainment industry.
Giving special attention to the 2023 Oscar achievements of the people of Ireland, President Higgins said: “It gives me great joy and pleasure to witness the attention that is being given to the hard-earned success of our film community, an attention that was generated in a special way by a record 14 Oscar nominations having been secured this year – comhgháirdeas leo.”
He added: “May I straight away take this opportunity to warmly congratulate the recipients of Oscars  for what are exceptional achievements.
“Having seen it on RTE, but looking forward to seeing it in a cinema, I was so moved by the warmth conveyed in the award-winning live-action short film, An Irish Goodbye.
“The relationships presented with superb acting, pace and direction had a ring of authenticity. I am delighted that actor James Martin and director Ross White are with us today.
“Film production requires the assembling of so many skills. In winning his second Oscar for Best Visual Effects, Richard Baneham draws attention again to the often under-recognised technical achievements that have developed Irish film-making.”
President Higgins also congratulated those who had received coveted Oscar nominations in this year’s awards.
“May I offer sincere congratulations to all of the Irish film community who received so many nominations - Colin Farrell, Paul Mescal, Kerry Condon, Brendan Gleeson, Barry Keoghan, Jonathan Redmond,” he said.
“To all involved with An Cailín Ciúin which made history as a full-length feature in Irish,” he added, “this is of such importance for work in the Irish language.
“I congratulate The Banshees of Inisherin for the exceptional recognition of their work which receiving so many nominations for an Academy Award constitutes…and those involved in An Cailín Ciúin, Director, Colm Bairéad, Director of Photography, Kate McCullough, and actress, Catherine Clinch, all of whom are here today in the Áras.
“May I also take the opportunity to recognise the performance of Jessie Buckley in Women Talking, winner of Best Adapted Screenplay.”
Mr Higgins praised the commitment of people across the film community in Ireland for their dedication to their craft over many decades while highlighting some of the nation’s previous success stories.
“The present strength of a multi-skilled creative film community on the island of Ireland is the result of committed, loyal supporters of film and decades of work,” he said.
“To be any part of that great venture which Irish film constitutes is a great privilege.
“Irish film-makers had continued to achieve considerable international success, including the Oscar-nominated films My Left Foot, The Crying Game, The Field and the box office success The Commitments, which were all produced with non-Irish finance.”
He added: “There are several reasons why all of the performing arts remain essential to contemporary society.
“The performing arts are a source of learning, life-enhancing, emancipatory, valuable critiquing our history and revealing to us in so many ways the depths of ourselves, expressed and repressed, the fragility of life and the human condition, and our connection with the world we inhabit.
“However, we must never forget that film or the performing arts are not mere commodities. Film is a powerful and distinct art form, built on the magic of celluloid images, one that expresses the imagination, the memory and the complex present circumstances of a people.
“In using the many and various artistic mechanisms in innovative and challenging ways, such as script, lighting, direction, music and silence, film has the capacity of addressing and conveying the very essence of our being, of our human struggles, our sorrow and our joy.”
Highlighting the importance of the work of everyone gathered for the presidential reception, Mr Higgins praised the positive impact they have had on those that view their productions.
“A truly great piece of art can transform the way we view the world, alter the manner in which we understand our human struggles and create links between past experiences, present realities, and utopian futures,” he said.
“Many of the greatest artworks are those which have the courage to take risks, to explore new themes or to rework traditional themes from new and creative perspectives.
“They are pieces which experiment and innovate, perhaps with language, style and characterisation, to make exceptional works which truly push the state of the art.”
The president added: “That is what you all have been at, ensuring that the arts remain constantly relevant, challenging and thought-provoking. Film is a crucial player in all of such performative practice and possibilities.
“May I thank you all for your contribution to the Irish film, audio-visual and performing arts sector, your contribution to the hard-won great standing which it has attained, the future you make possible, all of which is built on decades of dedication, creativity and hard work. “All of your work is something to be celebrated.”