Ifta awards: Cillian Murphy and That They May Face the Rising Sun take home top prizes

Lies We Tell claims most awards of the night, including best actress for Agnes O’Casey, as Paul Mescal wins best supporting actor for All of Us Strangers

Cillian Murphy, star of Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, closed off a seemingly endless awards season with a win for best actor at the 21st anniversary Irish Film and Television Academy (Ifta) ceremony.

Best film deservedly went to Pat Collins’s hugely acclaimed adaptation of John McGahern’s final novel That They May Face the Rising Sun.

Murphy was in attendance at the Dublin Royal Conference Centre near Dublin Castle to receive the award from recent Oscar nominee Lily Gladstone. “Thank you. Oh, go on. Sit down now. I’m still so brutal at this,” the famously undemonstrative actor said at the podium.

“You know being in this room is very special – being at home. And there’s so many people here that I love and admire amongst my fellow nominees. Some of my favourite people are here. Some of my best friends. I love you all. It made me think of being a young actor and getting so much encouragement from so many people.”


This marks the end of a tramp around the gong circuit that properly kicked off at the Golden Globes four months ago.

Speaking backstage, he joked about posting something in the golden letterbox An Post erected near his family home in Cork. “Yep, the letter box,” he said. “It’s down by my parents’ gaff. I went past it with a hoodie on.” Murphy also accepted the best international film Ifta for Oppenheimer in director Christopher Nolan’s absence.

Recent winner of best Irish film at the Dublin International Film Festival, That They May Face the Rising stars Barry Ward in a subtle tale examining a year in the life of a rural community. Hitherto best known for intelligent hybrid documentaries, Collins, another Corkman, was characteristically modest at the podium.

“Whatever about me, we wouldn’t be here without the book John McGahern wrote,” he said before mentioning the writer’s widow. “Thank you to Madeline McGahern who I met six or seven years ago and who gave her blessing to it.”

Lisa Mulcahy’s Lies We Tell, an innovative adaptation of J Sheridan Le Fanu’s Uncle Silas, took the most film awards. Three Iftas went its way including the best actress prize for Agnes O’Casey, great granddaughter of Sean O’Casey, who beat such distinguished fellow nominees as Jessie Buckley, Eve Hewson and Saoirse Ronan. “This is for my grandma,” she said from the podium. “She brought me to the theatre. She’s at home with a broken leg.”

Paul Mescal, on an unstoppable roll, took best supporting actor for his ghostly performance in All of Us Strangers, but couldn’t make it to the ceremony. Alison Oliver, yet another Cork professional, took best supporting actress for her turn as a dissolute upper-class character in Emerald Fennell’s Saltburn.

An impressive array of talent turned out for the event. Gladstone, recent Oscar nominee for Killers of the Flower Moon, seemed excited to make a first trip to Ireland. The native American actor was aware of the donation made by the Choctaw nation to those struck by the great famine in the 1840s. “I think it was wonderful,” she said on the red carpet.

“It made absolute sense. Choctaw at the time, as a sovereign nation, were also struggling to feed their own. We were experiencing colonisation. We were experiencing cultural survival through all of it. So there was an immediate recognition of what was going on.” Gladstone was nominated for best international actress, but lost out to Emma Stone for Poor Things, produced by Irish company Element Pictures.

Also buzzing up the carpet were the members of red-hot Belfast rap outfit Kneecap. The band are looking forward to the upcoming release of their self-titled film, which recently triumphed at the Sundance Film Festival. They talked about attempts to stop them discussing the Gaza conflict at events.

“There has been attempts, but it falls on deaf ears,” they said. “If anything’s successful they’ll let you do what you want. If the movie was a flop they’d have more sway over what you can do. But because we won the audience award at Sundance they can’t really say f**k all.” The band were greeted with huge applause as they presented the award for best score to fellow northerner Neil Hannon for LOLA.

Eve Hewson, nominated for her performance in John Carney’s Flora and Son, was full of wisdom about how to cope in a cruel business. “For years and years you get close to a job and then you get heartbroken,” she said on the carpet. “You get close and you get heartbroken again. Someone said to me: ‘If you’re getting close then it’s just a matter of time.’”

The lifetime achievement award went the way of legendary Belfast-born actor Stephen Rea. “This is a most prestigious award. If it happened a little later it could have been a posthumous award,” he said. Talking to The Irish Times, he recalled how much the industry in Ireland and Britain had changed in the decades since he began.

“When we were doing The Crying Game, it was the only film in production in either Britain or Ireland,” he said. “It was a miracle we got it done. It would have been a tragedy if we hadn’t.”

The Iftas have, for some years, operated an eccentric system that sees TV drama gongs given out in the same ceremony as film prizes. The runaway winner in the television section was RTÉ crime drama Kim – a recent arrival on Netflix – which took a rare five Iftas.

Baz Ashmawy proved a witty, irreverent host for a ceremony that went off smoothly. Inevitably, he got in a good joke about a local actor’s much discussed appearance au naturale in a recent buzzy film.

“One person we’re missing is Barry Keoghan,” he said. “He’s up for a leading actor for Saltburn. A well-deserved nomination as well. Maybe it’s because of where I’m from, but it just filled me with joy to see a proud inner city Dublin lad up there on the big screen – swinging off Barry Keoghan.”

The 2024 Ifta awards

Best film

That They May Face the Rising Sun

Directors – film

Lies We Tell – Lisa Mulcahy

Script – film

Lies We Tell – Elisabeth Gooch

Lead actor – film

Cillian Murphy – Oppenheimer

Lead actress – film

Agnes O’Casey – Lies We Tell

Supporting actor – film

Paul Mescal – All of Us Strangers

Supporting actress – film

Alison Oliver – Saltburn

Drama awards

Best drama


Director – drama

KIN – Kate Dolan

Script – Drama

KIN – Peter McKenna

Lead actor – Drama

Éanna Hardwicke – The Sixth Commandment

Lead Actress – Drama

Clare Dunne – KIN

Supporting actor – Drama

Richard Dormer – Blue Lights

Supporting actress – Drama

Maria Doyle Kennedy – KIN

International film awards

Best international film awards


Best international actor

Paul Giamatti – The Holdovers

Best international actress

Emma Stone – Poor Things

Other award categories

George Morrison feature documentary

The Days of Trees

Live-action short film


Animated short film

Wind & The Shadow

Craft categories


Poor Things – Robbie Ryan

Costume design

LOLA – Lara Campbell

Production design

A Haunting in Venice – John Paul Kelly

Hair & make-up

The Pope’s Exorcist – Orla Carroll, Lynn Johnston


Barbie – Nina Rice

Original music

LOLA – Neil Hannon


Still: A Michael J Fox Movie – Michael Harte


Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves – Kev Cahill, Diana Giogiutti

Screen Ireland Rising Star Award

Siobhán Cullen

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