2021 IFTA Film & Drama Awards

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Ever year the IFTA Film & Drama Awards honour and celebrate excellence in Irish film and television. Traditionally, it is a night out for the industry to get suited and booted and raise a glass to those people who have made an outstanding contribution over the past year in their field both in front of and behind the camera.

This year – for obvious reasons – it was a night in but the show went on and the virtual IFTA awards, hosted by the Irish Film & Television Academy, were screened on Virgin Media One, with Gráinne Seoige mastering proceedings.

The beautiful Wolfwalkers won Best Film 2021. Directed by Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart, the animated fantasy adventure film is an enchanting tale about a feud, a friendship, and two girls forever changed.

Josh Brolin presented Best Film and reflected on the impact Ireland has had on him, saying: “My own story with Ireland is that at 20 years old I was in Dublin, and I blindly walked into a theatre on a movie called ‘My Left Foot,’ and left a changed man. With the rest of my very little money that same trip, I saw the Cusack’s do ‘The Three Sisters’ at the Gate Theatre and was again changed. I also read ‘A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man’ that same trip. Ireland has had a massive impact on me, so I just wanted to say congratulations to all the nominees because I know how tough it is to manifest an idea into film…”

Normal People won the IFTA for Best Drama, one of nine wins in total of 15 nominations including, Paul Mescal winning Best Actor Drama, and Lenny Abrahamson for Best Director Drama. Director Abrahamson joined from the set of Normal People follow-up Conversations with Friends to receive his award from Irish Comedian and Actress Deirdre O’Kane, while last year’s winner of the Best Actor Film category Tom Vaughan-Lawlor presented producers Catherine Magee and Emma Norton with the award for Best Drama. Kate McCullough was also celebrated for her cinematography.

Colin Farrell presented the award for Best Director Film and praised the nominated directors as “fearless and determined artists, sharing a bold new vision for Irish Cinema.”

Cathy Brady won the award for her film Wildfire, which tells the story of two sisters who grew up on the fractious Irish border. Wildfire is in cinemas 3rd September 2021.

Jim Sheridan was on hand to present Clare Dunne and Malcolm Campbell with the award for Best Script – Film for their work on Herself. Their script features a young mother who escapes her abusive husband and fights back against a broken housing system. Clare also features in the film as well co-writing it. Herself is in cinemas 10th September 2021.


Nika McGuigan won Best Actress Film for her performance in Wildfire which was in post-production when the actress sadly passed away. Accepting the award on her behalf, Nika’s father Olympic boxer Barry McGuigan, and mother Sandra said they were “very, very proud and overwhelmed.” Her brother Blane then gave an emotional speech accepting the award on behalf of the family.

The Crown star Olivia Colman presented Gabriel Byrne with the award for Best Actor film for his role in Death of a Ladies Man, in which he plays a carousing college professor whose life takes a series of unimaginable twists when he begins to have surreal hallucinations. Inspired by the songs of Leonard Cohen, Byrne thanked the iconic musician “for his beautiful music and his words. One of the things that has always stuck with me is something he said: ‘there’s a crack in everything – that’s how the light gets in’.

Star Wars icon Mark Hamill presented the Screen Ireland IFTA Rising Star Award and  spoke fondly of his relationship with Ireland saying: “I know first-hand the incredible talent in Ireland. I’m so happy to join the Irish academy tonight to celebrate Ireland’s greatest achievements.” Nicola Coughlan won the Award for her standout performance in Netflix’s world-wide smash Bridgerton.

Bob Geldof presented the George Morrison Feature Documentary Award to Breaking Out. Directed by Michael McCormack and filmed over 10 years, Breaking Out tells the story of Fergus O’Farrell’s band Interference, his most-famous song Gold – as heard in the film and stage show Once – and his life with Muscular Dystrophy.

2021 IFTA Film & Drama Awards

The full list of winners:

Winners of the IFTA Film & Drama Awards 2021

Best Film


Director Film

Cathy Brady – Wildfire

Script Film

Clare Dunne & Malcom Campbell – Herself

Actor in a Lead Role – Film

Gabriel Byrne – Death of a Ladies’ Man

Actress in a Lead Role – Film

Nika McGuigan – Wildfire

Actor in a Supporting Role – Film

Barry Ward – Dating Amber

Actress in a Supporting Role – Film

Sharon Horgan – Dating Amber

Rising Star

Nicola Coughlan

George Morrison Feature Documentary

Breaking Out


Normal People

Director Drama

Lenny Abrahamson – Normal People

Script Drama

Sally Rooney – Normal People

Actor in a Lead Role – Drama

Paul Mescal – Normal People

Actress in a Lead Role – Drama

Dervla Kirwan – Smother

Actor in a Supporting Role – Drama

Fionn O’Shea – Normal People

Actress in a Supporting Role – Drama

Sarah Greene – Normal People

Short Film


 Short Animation

 Her Song


Kate McCullough – Normal People


Úna Ní Dhonghaíle – Misbehaviour

Production Design

Lucy van Lonkhuyzen – Normal People


Leonie Prendergast – Gretel & Hansel

Hair & Makeup

Linda Gannon Foster & Liz Byrne – Gretel & Hansel

Original Score

Aza Hand – Son

Sound Design

Steve Fanagan, Niall Brady, & Niall O Sullivan – Normal People


Ed Bruce & Robert Hartigan – Kidding

Interested in Film and TV? Take a look at courses around the country herehere

Nightcourses.com is Ireland’s largest part-time course finder database, with thousands of part-time courses, evening, morning and weekend classes and adult education courses to choose from. You’ll find your perfect course on Nightcourses.com.


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