Ella Nethercott wins Ireland’s Young Filmmaker of the Year 2021
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17-YEAR-OLD Ella Nethercott from Rathgar, Dublin, has taken home the title of Ireland’s Young Filmmaker of the Year 2021.
Fresh International Film Festival went digital as it celebrated its 25th anniversary of giving young filmmakers a platform to shine. Ireland’s Young Filmmaker of the Year Senior Awards 2021 took place online via Fresh International Film Festival’s YouTube channel. This year, the competition received over 1,200 entries, with presenter and documentary filmmaker Stephen Byrne and comedian and social, creative Justine Stafford hosting this year’s online awards.
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Ella won Ireland’s Young Filmmaker of the Year 2021 for her short film ‘Learning to Dance Like a Bird,’ about a young girl struggling with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder who is taken out of her comfort zone. She meets a boy who helps her to let go.
Speaking about her win, Ella said, “It was an absolute honor to win Ireland’s Young Filmmaker of the Year. I’m extremely proud of myself and of how much I have grown throughout this process. It has been a huge honor to participate in the Fresh Film Festival over the last two years, and I’m so grateful for the platform they gave me to express myself and meet like-minded people. I had such a genuinely incredible time making the film but to then receive recognition on top of that just made the experience all the more unforgettable.”
Speaking of her film, Ella said, “I looked at this film as a form of escapism for me as I was struggling through the lockdown. I wanted to explore a contrast with our current age. I didn’t want the story to be tainted by technology, especially after spending so much time glued to my screens, and so I brought it back to a time before the era of smartphones, a time I see as liberating and free. I love music, so I put a lot of time into finding songs that narrated the ideas I was trying to portray.
“I spent a lot of time developing Eddie. She is a character that is very close to my heart, and I put a lot of work into exploring what made her tick. After my last film, I wanted to follow real people and real issues, which I plan to do in the future. I didn’t want to romanticize the hardships of mental health, and so I really tried to emphasize those raw struggles while still presenting a teenage romance above it all.”
Max Hendrickson, aged 15 from Dublin, was the second-place winner for his film ‘Wendigo,’ about a man investigating an old, isolated house who discovers its sinister history. Aoife Rees, aged 17 from Kildare, took home third place for her comedy film ‘A Guide to the End of the World’, a more upbeat approach to the pandemic.
Kildare Young Filmmakers with director-writer and director Molly Hoque won the Best Group award for their film ‘The Inspector’ and Aquinas Diocesan Grammar School in County Down with director Shayna Velasquez won Best School for their film ‘Alamid.’
Other entries received Highly Commended Awards on the day, including Muirinn Carty from Wexford for Direction for her film ‘Tactiturn,’ Sean Tracey from Co. Wicklow for Cinematography for his film ‘Horizons,’ Shane Joyce from Limerick for Performance for his film ‘Coffee Break’ and Asha Murray Bennett from Shannon, Co. Clare for Comedy for her film ‘Toothbrush Connoisseur.’
Nellie Warren from Dublin won Highly Commended for Storytelling for her film ‘Buachail,’ which also won the Cartoon Saloon Award for Best Animation about a young girl named Kit, a repeatedly mistaken boy.
Ireland’s Junior Young Filmmaker of the year 2021 was announced as the 6th Class of Behy Film Club from Behy National School in Mayo for their film ‘The Heist Before Christmas.’
The International winner was Alisha Heng from the USA for her film ‘Through Their Eyes, a stop-motion of a wolf and a rabbit living seemingly harmoniously together in the woods.
Emily Reilly from Loreto Secondary School, Wexford, won the overall Audience Award Winner, which was voted for by the public, for her Wexford film ‘The Essay.’
Several specialist awards were presented for the Seniors, including the Cartoon Saloon Animation Award, the RTE 60 Second Short Film Award, the RTE Factual Award, and the International awards.
Jayne Foley, Founder and Artistic Director of Fresh Film, said, “This is our 25th adventure in film. The films that we receive every year have ensured that the Festival stays Fresh. Many films entered this year are a glimpse into how young people in Ireland are dealing with the pandemic’s challenges. Films are a powerful form of expression and an effective way to educate, create awareness, improve understanding and encourage action. This year’s Festival introduced the world to a new generation of young film innovators and is a document of their history.”
Jayne added, “I want to congratulate all our winners. It’s fantastic to see two of our overall winners are girls this year. The title of Ireland’s Young Filmmaker of the Year went to a young female filmmaker from Dublin who made an amazing film that really resonated with the jury to portray teenage young love. It’s always fantastic to see young women leading the way.”
About Fresh Film
In its 25th year, Fresh Film encourages young people to make films by hosting an annual international film festival for young people, presenting Ireland’s Young Filmmaker of the Year Awards, acting as an advocate for young filmmakers, and promoting their work worldwide.
Fresh International Film Festival invites young people from Ireland and overseas, aged 7 to 18 years, to create, exhibit, and share files. The festival provides an opportunity for these young filmmakers to have their work seen on a cinema screen for the first time and to compete for the title of Ireland’s Young Filmmaker of the Year. All films submitted are also considered for a range of Specialist Awards, including the Radharc Trust Award (documentary), the Cartoon Saloon Animation Award, the RTE 60 Second Short Film Award, and the RTE Factual Award, in addition to the International and Audience awards.
Fresh Film runs several initiatives throughout the year and distributes Irish films made by young people to festivals worldwide.
Aoife Rees won 3rd place for her film ‘A Guide to the End of the World’.