Powerful Irish women in the film industry

Shauna Power

Irish actress Saoirse Ronan Opening of the 64th Berlin International Film Festival at the Berlinale Palast

The Irish Film Industry has always been overwhelmingly male-dominated with actors such as Cillian Murphy, Colin Farrell and Liam Neeson making a stance on the international stage. Historically Irish film has lacked strong female voices and vision. However, Irish women still fight to make their mark in the Irish and international film industry.

Arguably Ireland’s most successful acting star, dominating the Hollywood scene, is 25 year-old Saoirse Ronan. She’s the second-youngest four-time Oscar nominee ever and her recent role in Greta Gerwig’s Little Women will undoubtedly cement her name as one of the greats. 

The Carlow native is used to rubbing elbows with some of Hollywoods’ most acclaimed, from Mark Wahlberg and Peter Jackson who she worked with on ‘The Lovely Bones’ to James McAvoy and Keira knightley. 

Not only is Ronan a powerful on-screen force, she also does her fair share of charity work. She is an ambassador for the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children along with supporting Home Sweet Home, an organisation that works with the homeless making efforts to increase housing opportunities.

Another inspiring Irish actress is Evanna Lynch. She shot to fame as Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter series, a role Saoirse Ronan was also considered for. She ended up being one of the most popular characters in the series thanks to her charming and magical portrayal of the beloved character.

Having suffered from anorexia nervosa in the past, Lynch spends a lot of time promoting healthy self esteem and body-image in young girls, through her instagram feed. In early 2011, she wrote an essay ‘Why the Body Find is My Nightmare’ describing her emotional struggles with her appearance and how she overcame it. She has also carried out fundraising work for the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Ireland. 

2019 was a great year for Irish female filmmaking talent. Louise Bagnalls’ short film ‘Late Afternoon’ received an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Short gaining her worldwide recognition. She is a member of Irish Animation Studio Cartoon Saloon, which is a four Time Academy Award, Golden Globe, BAFTA and Emmy nominated animation studio based in Kilkenny.

Cartoon Saloon was established by Nora Twomey, Paul Young and Tomm Moore in 1999 with Twomey leading the way. Twomey co-directed Tomm Moore’s Academy award nominated The Secret of Kells, having first directed short films Darkness and Cúilín Dualach. She has also won several international awards including the Audience and Jury Awards at Annecy, according to Cartoon Saloons’ website. 

In an interview with RTÉ last year Twomey spoke about how the previous mis representation of women in the film industry should ‘‘strike us as really strange’’. She said,‘‘change is necessary and overdue’’.

However she believes The Film Industry is in a good place when it comes to its’ growing and influential female presence.

‘‘Seeing the amount of young women coming up through the colleges and into roles in the animation industry means they are going to have a long-term positive effect on the stories we watch on our screens’’.

Shauna Power

Image Credit: Wikimedia