As far as inspiration for March ministerial wanderings go, St Patrick has a new rival this year: Oscar.
While only 3,400 extremely dressed-up people can attend the Oscars ceremony in Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre in person, Los Angeles will be awash with viewing parties for the 95th Academy Awards on Sunday week. And among the hosts will be Minister for Culture Catherine Martin.
Martin will preside over a special Oscars viewing event at the Irish consulate in Los Angeles, where a bevy of people connected to the Irish film industry who don’t have a seat in the actual auditorium will be watching on as the gold statuettes are dished out – and, presumably, watching out for any repeats of last year’s surprise on-stage slap.
Before that, the Minister will attend next Thursday’s Oscar Wilde Awards, at which the US-Ireland Alliance will honour the makers of Academy Award nominated film An Cailín Ciúin (The Quiet Girl) as well as best supporting actress nominee Kerry Condon, former best supporting actress nominee Jessie Buckley and actor Eve Hewson.
Other attendees at the Oscar Wilde event are likely to include Richard Baneham. As one of the visual effects team for Avatar: The Way of Water, Baneham is now reckoned to the most likely of this year’s record crop of Irish nominees to convert his nomination into a win.
But it’s not about the winning – it’s the promotion that counts: “The Minister intends to capitalise on the huge global interest in the Irish film industry at this time,” her spokesman says.
Martin’s diary, before she ventures to San Diego as part of the St Patrick’s Day cultural outreach programme, is expected to feature meetings with studios and production companies in a bid to boost the Irish screen industry.
This follows a previous trade mission to LA last May, during which a special focus was put on Irish visual effects and post-production capacities, but the Minister was told that Ireland was losing out on such work because the €70 million per project cap on the section 481 tax credit is too low.
This time around, Martin is expected to “make a series of announcements” relating to the sector during the visit. So far, the best news for the hopeful Irish contingent is that the recent rare spell of wintry weather in LA has now cleared.