The 10th IFTA anniversary Ceremony was watched by over 1.25 million viewers on Saturday 9th February, making it the highest rated IFTA Awards Ceremony to date. The show which was hosted by Simon Delaney and broadcast primetime, gained 40% of the total viewership on Saturday night, across all channels with the 1.2 million viewers averaging out to just under 600,000 viewers across the 2 hour show.
Previous Hosts of the IFTAs were also in attendance including the very first Host Jimmy Nesbitt, who presented the first three IFTAs, and Victoria Smurfit who is the only female Host to date.They were joined by over 1,000 industry professionals attending the Ceremony, which focussed on celebrating the home industry and the best of Irish creative talent across acting, producing, directing, writing, and craft categories, from production design, to hair and makeup, to editing, to sound. Irish audiences who tuned in to RTÉ ONE saw 'What Richard Did' crowned Best Film, 'Love/Hate' crowned Best Drama, 'Macropolis' named Best Animation, and 'Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God' winning Best Feature Documentary.
Marking the 10th year, the Academy paid tribute to colleagues who had passed over the 10 years with a poignant visual Memoriam which received a prolonged standing ovation from attending guests in the auditorium. It was accompanied by internationally renowned Violin Soloist Aoife Ní Bhriain and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, who performed a specially composed Lament by Golden Globe Nominee Brian Byrne.
Guests at a gala dinner at the Convention Centre, tucked into a gourmet starter of Lisarra chicken and winter vegetable terrine with red onion jam, garlic and smoked paprika with crispy potato bread, and a main course of roast Irish fillet steak with braised ox cheek, infused flat cap mushroom, carrot bundle, thyme fondant potato and Madeira jus.
On the red carpet Best Actor winner Jack Reynor ('What Richard Did'), said: ''The IFTA's are hugely important; that we recognise our own talent in this country. I don't think that worldwide we're as recognised as we should be; we don't focus enough on exporting our arts as much as we should so it's great to come together for a night like this and to see Irish film really recognised.'' While his Director Lenny Abrahamson who picked up the Best Director gong acknowledged that "It's lovely to have your peers give you an award like this, it means a lot that people you know or respect in the industry like what you're doing". Gerard Barrett who won the IFB Rising Star Award Recipient said "It's crazy and mental but it's lovely, I just hope whoever is watching the show - if they have a story to tell, that they can go out and tell it themselves...and something like this can happen."
Minister for Arts, Jimmy Deenihan TD who presented the Best Film Award on the night said: "We can take great pride in the efforts of our filmmakers and the great stories they have worked so hard to bring to our screens, for our education and entertainment; And now more than ever, the film industry has a vital role in our economy, in job creation and in projecting a vibrant, and modern image of Ireland to a global audience".
Commenting on the high TV viewership figures for the show James Hickey the Chief Executive of the Irish Film Board said that; "The IFTAs are a wonderful showcase for Irish film, and the huge success of the event on RTÉ Television demonstrates the Irish audiences' enthusiasm for celebrating Irish creative talent in Film."
Glen Killane, Managing Director, RTÉ Television added that; "RTÉ as the national public service broadcaster is continually investing in developing and nourishing creative talent in Ireland. The fact that audiences tuned in to the IFTAs in such numbers is testament to their appetite to celebrate Irish talent and to engage with Irish content".
Reacting to the audience figures IFTA Chief Executive, Áine Moriarty commented: "This 10th Year has marked a milestone for Ireland and specifically for the home industry and we really just want to thank Irish audiences for tuning-in to watch in such high numbers and for showing the support for home-grown talent – that's what it's all about!"
Other guests commenting on the night of the Ceremony were Chris O'Dowd who said: "This is a very small country, and the amount of an incredible artists, writers and actors that come from here is astounding and to get all of them into one room to go 'well done us' is terrific." It's a big night, and it's really exciting...I'm delighted." Robert Sheehan also said that "Coming back for this show year after year has been a wonderful way to come back to Ireland."
Jim Sheridan said it was great to see such amazing young Irish talent coming on the screen and said that "IFTA's got bigger and better and I hope it keeps going that way!"
Saoirse Ronan acknowledged that "There's a lot of great actors coming out of Ireland – it's very exciting and it's great to be a part of it. It's very important. I think it's just good for your head to get home. And to be here - the very important the fact that everyone knows each other is lovely, we're all able to relax when we're here - it's not like other Awards shows."
Amanda Byram said that "It's a decade worth of support and just wonderful for film and television. It's very exciting to be Irish on a night like this". Domhnall Gleeson concurred and in saying that "It's lovely that we are all here hanging out - it's a good night for Irish film.
Fionnula Flanagan said for her it's just "lovely to be included in the family of IFTA. I think is so important to have this kind of support for young filmmakers and seasoned filmmakers – it's a wonderful thing." James Nesbitt said: "I'm a previous host and a previous winner, and I'm delighted to be back and to see how's it's all transformed and changed and developed – it's wonderful."
Andrew Lowe, Chair of the Audiovisual Federation and Company Director / Producer at Element Pictures, said, "We want to congratulate IFTA on their fantastic ratings for the show on Saturday night. The IFTAs have established themselves as a key platform to promote Irish Film and Television talent to Irish audiences. We're particularly pleased for the terrific results for What Richard Did, Mea Maxima Culpa, Shadow Dancer and Ripper Street, all of which picked up awards on the night."
The 10th IFTA Awards ceremony was broadcast is available to watch now on the RTÉ Player at www.rte.ie/player. The Ceremony Broadcast Show was Produced by IFTA-nominated Tony Deegan (WB Yeats: No Country For Old Men) and Allan Doyle (Naked Camera), and Directed by Dave Donaghy.
For the full list of winners and nominees, click here.