The Irish Film & Television Academy (IFTA) has announced that Irish-Language Feature Foscadh (Shelter) has been selected as Ireland’s entry for the Oscars®’ Best International Feature Film category (formerly Best Foreign Language category) at the upcoming 94th annual Academy Awards.

The film was selected by IFTA’s 2022 Selection Committee, including Director Aisling Walsh (Maudie; Elizabeth is Missing; Song for a Raggy Boy), Actor Owen McDonnell, (Killing Eve; An Klondike; Paula),  Cinematographer Kate McCullough (Normal People; Arracht; Phil Lynott: Songs for While I’m Away), Producer Martina Niland (Sing Street; Once; Float Like a Butterfly), actress Fionnula Flanagan (The Guard; The Others; Waking Ned Devine) and Paul Young, CEO of the five-time Oscar®-nominated Irish Animation company Cartoon Saloon (Wolfwalkers; Song of the Sea; The Breadwinner). The Committee was chaired by Academy CEO Áine Moriarty.

Foscadh (Shelter), is a poignant meditation on isolation, neurodiversity, and letting go of the past, set in the wild mountains of Connemara. Based on characters in Donal Ryan’s novel The Thing About December, Foscadh (Shelter) tells the story of naïve recluse John Cunliffe who is suddenly propelled into manhood at the ripe old age of 28. When his overprotective parents pass away, friendless John inherits mountain land that is in the way of a lucrative wind-farm development, and he is forced to navigate the choppy waters of romance, trust and vengeance for the first time.

Written and directed by Seán Breathnach, Foscadh (Shelter) stars 2020 IFTA nominee Dónall Ó Héalai (Arracht), Fionnuala Flaherty (An Klondike), and Cillian O’Gairbhí (Blood). Foscadh (Shelter) joins a stellar list of Irish-made films (not in the English language) that have been selected by IFTA’s selection committee to represent Ireland in the Oscar® race over recent years.  Last year IFTA submitted Irish-language feature film Arracht to represent Ireland, and previous selections have included Gaza (Arabic language Documentary); Viva (Spanish language); Song of Granite (Irish language); As If I Am Not There (Serbo-Croatian language), and Kings (Irish language) among others.

Foscadh (Shelter) was produced by Paddy Hayes (Cumar: A Galway Rhapsody), whose father Tom Hayes was nominated for an Oscar® fifty years ago in 1961 for the documentary Cradle of Genius. The film is produced by Hayes’ Magamedia and premiered to critical acclaim at the Galway Film Fleadh in 2021 winning Best Irish First Feature at the Festival’s Awards.

Alongside the news of its selection as Ireland’s submission for the Oscars®’ Best International Feature Film category, the Irish Academy has exclusively revealed the full international trailer for Foscadh (Shelter).

Foscadh (Shelter) Trailer

Speaking about the selection of Foscadh (Shelter), Áine Moriarty – IFTA Academy CEO said:

“The Irish Academy is delighted to announce Foscadh to represent Ireland. This is a stunning debut feature from Seán Breathnach with its beautiful tranquil depiction of the West of Ireland. Its subtle and brilliant storytelling will no doubt resonate with international audiences of any language. The vulnerability and isolation captured in Dónall Ó Héalai’s striking lead performance is yet another reminder of the superb acting talent in this country.”

Seán Breathnach, writer/director of Foscadh (Shelter)  said: “It truly is both an honour and a privilege to be chosen by IFTA to represent Ireland in the Academy Awards Best International Film category. We are beyond thrilled that Foscadh (Shelter) is garnering such a positive reaction from critics and festivals alike, following on from its Best First Film award at the Galway Film Fleadh. I would like to take this opportunity to give thanks to our wonderful cast and crew agus ba mhaith liom buíochas a ghabháil lenár lucht maointhe, TG4, Fís Éireann, agus Údarás Craolacháin na hÉireann.”

Foscadh producer Paddy Hayes said: “I think Foscadh (Shelter), with its searing tale of a young recluse overcoming personal adversity, will really resonate with Academy members and has a real shot of making the shortlist. The film will get its international premiere at the Newport Beach Film Festival in L.A. in October and I look forward to building an Oscar® campaign around it in these coming months. My own father Tom Hayes was Oscar® shortlisted in 1961 for his film Cradle of Genius so it would be great to finally live up to his expectations 50 years later!”

Foscadh (Shelter) was supported by Fís Éireann / Screen Ireland, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, and TG4 as part of the Cine 4 scheme, an initiative set up in 2017 to develop original feature films in the Irish language. Foscadh (Shelter) is distributed in Ireland by Eclipse Pictures.

The Oscar® Best International Film contenders will next be shortlisted to 15 international finalists on December 21st which will then be ultimately shortlisted to the final 5 Oscar® Nominees in that category on February 8th. The 94th Academy Awards ceremony (the Oscars®) is currently scheduled to take place on Sunday 27th March 2022 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood and will honour the best films of 2021.

World Sales for Foscadh (Shelter) are being handled by The Yellow Affair.