The Last Right directed by Aoife Crehan
The Last Right directed by Aoife Crehan

Documentary short Horse Riders won the inaugural Academy Awards qualifying Grand Prix Documentary Short Award at the 64th Cork Film Festival. The film, directed by Anna Gawlita, now joins the longlist for the Academy Awards in 2021.

The Festival’s further Academy Awards qualifying awards, the Grand Prix Irish Short Award, went to Tristan Heanue’s Ciúnas (Silence) and Stalker, directed by Christopher Andrews took home the Grand Prix International Short Award.

Cork Film Festival Director and CEO Fiona Clark said: “As Ireland’s only film festival to present three Academy Awards qualifying awards, we are delighted to announce Anna Gawlita’s Horse Riders as the winner of the Grand Prix Documentary Short Award at the 64th Cork Film Festival. It is an exceptional documentary short and one that is thoroughly deserving of being longlisted for an Oscar. The eye-catching film tells the story of an annual horse pilgrimage in a Polish village, an old regional tradition being kept alive in southern Poland.

“Tristan Heanue’s Irish-language short film Ciúnas (Silence) took home the second Academy Awards qualifying award, the Grand Prix Irish Short Award, and is the winner of the €1,500 prize fund. It is a stunning film about a couple who embark on a journey in the midst of a family crisis. Stalker, directed by Christopher Andrews, was awarded the Grand Prix International Short Award, our third Academy Awards® qualifying award. Set in the remote forests of the Scottish Highlands, the film sets the scene of an ageing stalker as he goes up against a young poacher who is taking the heads off his best stags.”

The Audience Award was won by The Last Right, written and directed by Aoife Crehan. This comedy-drama follows New York-based Daniel Murphy who ends up being tasked with bringing the body of someone he barely knows home for burial.

The Gradam Spiorad Na Féile / Spirit of The Festival Award went to Carlo Mirabella-Davis’ directorial debut Swallow. This film depicts the struggle a young housewife and the increasing pressures of perfection as she begins to consume dangerous objects in an attempt to take back control.

The Cave directed by Feras Fayyad
Al Ghouta, Syria – Dr. Amani in the underground tunnels. (Photo credit: National Geographic) (The Cave directed by Feras Fayyad)

The Gradam Na Féile Do Scannáin Faisnéise / Award for Cinematic Documentary was awarded to Feras Fayyad’s exceptional film, The Cave, which presents a harrowing account of one woman’s efforts to provide medical care in war-ravaged Syria. The impact of this important film on audiences is further reflected in it being awarded the Cork Film Festival Youth Jury Award, the second time for Feras Fayyad (‘Last Men in Aleppo’, CFF 2017).

The Cork Film Festival Short Film Candidate for the 2020 European Film Awards is Things That Happen in the Bathroom, directed by Edward Hancox. This short film explores issues relating to loneliness, sexual insecurities and expectations.

Other prize winners announced at the Awards ceremony, which was hosted by master of ceremonies, Dave Mac Ardle (RedFM), included the award for the Best Cork Short which was won by Olivia J Middleton for her film, Rosalyn, a compelling horror that explores the fragility of mental health during pregnancy.

The award for Best Director: Irish Short went to Michael-David McKernan, for his short film Halo. A single-take film, this short tells the tale of a lonely taxi driver who takes drastic action to protect a passenger from heartbreak.

Winners of 64th Cork Film Festival

Ciúnas (Silence), directed by Tristan Heanue — Grand Prix Irish Short Award

Stalker, directed by Christopher Andrews — Grand Prix International Short Award

Horse Riders, directed by Anna Gawlita — Grand Prix Documentary Short Award

The Last Right, directed by Aoife Crehan — Audience Award, Presented by The River Lee

The Cave, directed by Feras Fayyad — Gradam na Féile do Scannáin Faisnéise (Award for Cinematic Documentary)

Swallow, directed by Carlo Mirabella-Davis — Gradam Spiorad na Féile (Spirit of the Festival Award)

Things That Happen in the Bathroom, directed by Edward Hancox — Cork Film Festival Candidate for the European Film Awards 2020

Rosalyn, directed by Olivia J Middleton — Best Cork Short Award

Michael-David McKernan, director of Halo — Best Director: Irish Short

The Cave, directed by Feras Fayyad — Cork Film Festival Youth Jury Award.

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