First Cut! Awards 2020 – View Award Winning Films Online!

Posted on

On Thursday 12th March following Government advice the 2020 First Cut! Festival closed after two busy days at both The Mall Arts Centre and The Regal Cinema in Youghal. Although the Covid-19 crisis sadly led to the cancellation of the final two days of First Cut! 2020, our annual awards were already selected.

We are now delighted, not only to publish the list of these outstanding films, but to be able to share many of them online, giving them a wide public platform that is also appropriate to the current moment.

A huge thank you to the filmmakers for your generosity in allowing us to screen your films in this way – and, of course, enormous congratulations on your superb work! The standard of films submitted for the 2020 festival was the highest yet and selecting the awards with so many impressive films to choose from was a difficult task.

Thank you to all the filmmakers who submitted. We look forward greatly to see your entries to First Cut 2021

We hope you all enjoy these wonderful films as much as we do and invite you to share them with others and feel free to contact us with any comments or feedback you might have for the filmmakers. Happy viewing and keep safe!


First Cut! Youth Film Festival Best Film 2020

The Government’s Plan (Aaron O’Dea)

A belligerently intense statement on the state of the nation and society. This funny, disturbing and unusually passionate satire works with an incendiary combination of sound and music. First Cut! salutes its rare punk spirit.

Watch The Government’s Plan here.

First Cut! Youth Film Festival Best Director 2020

Brainboxed (Wiktoria Weintritt)

A subtle and delicate personal drama handled with extraordinary control, finesse and understatement. The quiet assurance of Wiktoria Weintritt’s directing was one of the most outstanding surprises of the 2020 open call submissions.

Watch Brainboxed here.

First Cut! Youth Council Award 2020

Rise of the Bottles (David Murphy)

This award is selected by the First Cut! Youth Advisory Council. Youth Council member Liam O’Leary stated on behalf of the group:

We thoroughly enjoyed the humour and suspense created in a film of just three minutes. The unique theme, impressive camerawork, and lack of dialogue all contribute. The comedy was new and stylish, like a breath of fresh air in its genre. The brilliant acting marries well with these other factors to create a film worthy of this award.

Watch Rise of the Bottles here.

The Youth Council also commended Fighting Despair (Callum Cunningham) with a special mention:

The Youth Council found it difficult to choose between this film and our winner. Fighting Despair delved into the innocence of childhood, and the intricate relationship between mother and son. A great insight was given into the problems facing many Irish families, and the conclusion was delivered through a powerful and well-executed metaphor.

First Cut Youth Film Festival 2020 Cork International Film Festival Award

Afterimage (Ross O’Hara)

This award is selected by Cork International Film Festival from films programmed in the First Cut! Open Call. CIFF senior programmer Don O’Mahony commented:

We loved Afterimage’s original, artistic and metaphorical approach. The integration of installation type elements such as polaroid pictures alongside the use of horror tropes brought a heightened psychological depth. That the unsettling tone was created with the absence of a score and without recourse to gratuitous elements also speaks volumes of its ingenuity.

Watch Afterimage here.

CIFF also gave a special mention to Fighting Despair (Callum Cunningham):

A compelling portrait of the contemporary pressures of single parenting and the vicissitudes of the rental market that is sensitive to the nightmarish forces that can leave one feeling cut adrift but, more importantly, restores our sense of empathy.

And a commendation to Real Horrorshow (Richard Harvey):

I’d like to acknowledge the strong work of the composer and cinematographer in this dialogue-free film.

First Cut! Youth Film Festival Spotlight Award 2020

Home (Marley Healy) 

The Spotlight Award for best film by a filmmaker in third level education goes to a searingly personal and boldly experimental portrait of a person struggling with herself. It boasts an unusually imaginative and effective approach to its difficult subject matter.

Watch Home here.

First Cut! Youth Film Festival Best Documentary 2020

The Quiet (Georgia Kelly)

This perfectly judged and quietly moving documentary confronts ageing and solitude with a warm human touch. A model short form documentary that succeeds in creating a memorable and nuanced portrait in its condensed running time.

Watch the trailer for The Quiet here.

First Cut! Youth Film Festival Best Animation 2020

Warfair (Jack McHugh & Conor McNally)

This darkly witty animated comedy makes a sharp point through some eloquent and accomplished animation.

Watch Warfair here.

First Cut! Youth Film Festival Best Music Video 2020

Gilbert’s Dead (Emily Power)

This gorgeously ethereal video makes terrific use of the saturated colours and textures of Super-8 film to summon up a nostalgic, almost fairy-tale atmosphere.

Watch Gilbert’s Dead here.

First Cut! Youth Film Best International Film 2020

Noise (Zoltan Bendeguz Szabo)

A creative documentary from Hungary that uses an array of experimental techniques to convey its hard hitting message with impressive imagination and technical skill. The youngest of the 2020 award winners, Zoltan Bendeguz Szabo is an upcoming talent to watch.

Watch Noise here.

First Cut Youth Film Festival Best Schools Film 2020

Britz (Alison Hennessy, Loreto Secondary School Fermoy) 

A cheeky anarchic comedy that leans into edginess more than once, this madcap romp is distinguished by vivid characterisations and committed performances. It boasts the most convincing homicidal teacher that the festival has yet seen!

Watch Britz here.