Dublin girl Ella wins Ireland’s Young Filmmaker of the Year 2021

by Kim O Leary

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 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 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.

REPRO FREE – 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’. Ella (centre) pictured with actors Erin O’Neill Bailey and Darragh Geraghty

“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,” she added.

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.

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.

Jayne Foley, Founder and Artistic Director of Fresh Film said: “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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