Silent Girl is the first Irish-language feature film nominated for an Oscar.
The film, titled An Cailin Ciuin in Irish, received a nod to the international feature film ahead of the 95th Academy Awards with All Quiet On The Western Front, Argentina, 1985, Close and EO.
Based on Booker Prize-nominated author Foster’s novella Claire Keegan, the Irish adaptation explores how Cait is sent by her family from rural Ireland to stay with relatives in Ring, County Waterford, an Irish-speaking area, in 1981.
Played by Catherine Clinch, the nine-year-old girl is welcomed with open arms by Eibhlin (Carrie Crowley), but her husband (Andrew Bennett) keeps Cait at bay before she blooms under their care and discovers family secrets.
Writer-director Colm Bairead and producer Cleona Ni Chrualaoi of Insceal said in a joint statement: “This is a truly historic and significant moment for Irish film, the Irish people and the Irish language.
“Never before has an Irish film been nominated in this category. Never before has Irish-language art had such a platform.”
Desiree Finnegan, chief executive of Screen Ireland, said it was “a historic moment for Irish-language film”.
The Silent Girl, which grossed over a million euros (£883,960) at the box office in Ireland and the UK to become the most successful Irish-language film ever, also has two BAFTA nominations.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar singled out the film, praising its Irish success in the nominations.
“Congratulations to all Irish #oscarnominations2023,” Varadkar tweeted.
“It is fantastic to see Irish creative talent achieve well-deserved recognition on the world stage.
“Comhghairdeas mor leis An Cailin Ciuin @quietgirlfilm – The first Irish-language film to receive an Oscar nomination.”
Contributing to its Irish success was Martin McDonagh’s black comedy The Banshees of Inisherin, which garnered a total of nine nominations – second only to sci-fi thriller Everything Everywhere All At Once.
McDonagh’s story, which stars Irish actors Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Barry Keoghan and Kerry Condon, who were also nominated for Oscars for their performances, is about what happens when a friendship falls apart.
Farrell, 46, and Gleeson, 67, are reuniting with McDonagh for the first time since the success of In Bruges, another black comedy set in a Belgian city.
This time around, the pair start out as friends, playing Irish islanders living on the fictional island of Inisherin, where Farrell’s character raises animals and Gleeson plays music.
Gleeson’s character decides he doesn’t want to be friends anymore, with dark consequences for him, Farrell, and others on the island.
The film is also set against the backdrop of the last days of the Irish Civil War in 1923, as seen in flashes as the characters look out over the continent, and was shot on the west coast of Ireland on Achill Island and Inis Mor, the largest of the Aran Islands.
Culture Minister Catherine Martin TD called the Irish success “a testament to the talent here in Ireland”, as she said the film broke the record for the most nominations for an Irish film.
Farrell and fellow Irish actor Paul Mescal both received their first Best Actor nominations for their performance in the coming-of-age drama Aftersun.
Aftersun tells the story of Calum, played by Mescal of Normal People, and his daughter Sophie, played by newcomer Frankie Corio, on vacation in Turkey, while Celia Rowlson-Hall portrays the adult Sophie, who recalls the vacation 20 years later.
Nell Mescal, sister of Paul Mescal, musician, tweeted after the news: “(I’m so proud it makes me sick…I would post a video of my reaction but those tears were UGLY.”
Irish editor Jonathan Redmond was also nominated for editing Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis, while Irish animator and visual effects supervisor Richard Baneham received another nod to Avatar: The Way of Water for visual effects.