Winners of RTS Republic of Ireland Student Awards announced

Alan Esslemont presenting the Short Form award to Jack Desmond and Philip Emo (Credit: George Adjaye)

The National Film School’s Éabha Bortolozza and Jack Kirwin took home the Animation award for their film about alcoholism, The Usual. “The composition and flow of the imagery is creative and demonstrates a high standard of animation direction,” said the judges.

Brendan McCallion and Frank O’Malley’s farm-set film, Backwater, won the Drama award and featured “a strong acting cast”, with “good scripting, detailed camera shots and set design [making] this a decidedly powerful production”.

Republic of Ireland centre hit the dance floor

Dancing with the Stars (Credit: RTÉ)

The show, the international version of the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing, began its third series at the beginning of the year. It is made by ShinAwiL for RTÉ, and hosted by Jennifer Zamparelli and Nicky Byrne.

A team of 120-150 people are involved in the production of the two-hour live broadcast, which has been compared to “producing a Eurovision Song Contest every week for 12 weeks”.

Executive producer and ShinAwiL CEO Larry Bass said that the dance floor was bigger than the area used in the original BBC version of the show.

RTS ROI holds a special screening of A Jar with Brendan Behan

Godfrey Graham and Alan Esslemont at the RTS ROI Student Awards (Credit: Charles Byrne)

The film was shot and produced by Godfrey Graham, who revealed at the RoI event that, at the time, Pierre had been a Swedish researcher working at RTÉ Television. She was fascinated with the Irish writer and approached Graham, who took on the challenge of producing the tribute to Behan.

A Jar with Brendan Behan features Níall Tóibín as Behan, who died in 1964. Tóibín also appeared in a stage adaptation of Behan’s Borstal Boy on Broadway, as well as acting in the movies Ryan’s Daughter and Veronica Guerin.

Peter McEvoy sheds light on documentary filmmaking from the 1960s

In his presentation at RTÉ Television Centre, Dublin, Peter McEvoy explained how the Radharc – Gaelic for vision – films started in the early 1960s. They are not religious programmes as such, but reflect a spiritual ethos.  

McEvoy, a former RTÉ producer, used excerpts from the films to illustrate Radharc’s remarkably broad reach, both geographically and thematically.

The first Radharc programme was aired in January 1962 and over the next 34 years RTÉ broadcast more than 400 from Ireland and around the world.

Christopher Fitz-Simon delivers presentation at RTÉ in Dublin

Christopher and Anne Fitz-Simon

In “How not to train for drama ­– Hamlet without the prince”, Fitz-Simon recalled his life as a stage-struck teenager, including a visit to a 1950 production of Hamlet by the legendary director Tyrone Guthrie at the Gate Theatre.

The production had been announced as being “in modern dress”, which the Dublin theatre critics snidely attributed to the management’s desire to save money on costumes. In the event, the cast was sumptuously dressed in Schiaparelli and Chanel.

The filming of Ryan's Daughter remembered

The arrival of Oscar-winning director David Lean – who had already made the revered epics The Bridge on the River Kwai and Lawrence of Arabia – in Dingle, Co Kerry in 1970 to make Ryan’s Daughter was big news.

The movie, set in the years after the Easter Rising, starred Robert Mitchum, Trevor Howard, John Mills and Sarah Miles, with an original screenplay from Robert Bolt and cinematography by Freddie Young.

What is Saorview?

Richard Waghorn (Credit: Charles Byrne)

​Saorview, the Irish free digital terrestrial television service, was launched in May 2011 and is run by RTÉ.

The RTÉ director of transformation and technology explained that Saorview has two terrestrial multiplexes, which broadcast all the channels from RTÉ, TG4 and TV 3, as well as Oireachtas TV (the parliament channel), RTÉ Radio stations and digital Aertel services. It reaches about 98% of the population of Ireland.

Saorview gives access to the best in Irish TV and, with certain products, it also offers free channels from the UK.

Dee Forbes delivers the 2017 Dan Gilbert Memorial Lecture

Dee Forbes (Credit: Navada Group)

Speaking before a packed house at Belfast arts venue, the MAC, Forbes said: “Public service media has never been more necessary or more relevant than it is today.”

She placed a strong focus on young audiences, explaining: “We must now prepare and re-imagine RTÉ for the next generation – a generation that has never been without the internet, the smartphone, on-demand video services, social media and access to the best programming and content from all over the world.”

Event report: Shane Kenny and the Benzodiazepine Medical Disaster

Shane Kenny

Kenny was prescribed a benzodiazepine drug in 2001 to treat Meniere’s disease, a rare inner ear condition. In the documentary he argues that prescribed drugs turned a manageable, relatively mild condition, into a disabling, long-term illness.
The event at RTÉ Television Centre drew a large audience of RTS members and guests, including people who claimed that their health had also been adversely affected by the use of benzodiazepines, which include Valium, Xanax and Ativan.