Ella Nethercott announced as Ireland’s Young Filmmaker of the Year 2021

  • Ella Nethercott Irelands Young Filmmaker of the Year.
17 year old Ella Nethercott from Rathgar, Dublin has taken home the title of Ireland’s Young Filmmaker of the Year 2021 for her film ‘Learning to Dance Like a Bird’.

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.

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 when she meets a boy who helps her to let go.

Speaking about her win, Ella said, “It was an absolute honour 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 honour 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 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 and so I put a lot of time into finding songs which 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 is what I’m planning on doing in the future. I didn’t want to romanticise the hardships of mental health and so I really tried to emphasise 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 writer and director Molly Hoque won the Best Group award for their film The Inspector and Aquinas Diocesan Grammar School in Belfast 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 who is repeatedly mistaken for a 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.

Five 16 year old girls from Loreto Secondary School, Wexford - Emily Reilly, Cerys Thompson, Laragh Frawley, Shannon Doyle and Grace Donnavan won the overall Audience Award Winner voted for by the public, for their film The Essay.

In addition, a number of specialist awards were presented for the Seniors including the Cartoon Saloon Animation Award, the RTE 60 Second Short Film Award and the RTE Factual Award, in addition to 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 challenges of the pandemic. 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 for its portrayal of teenage young love. It’s always fantastic to see young women leading the way.”

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