Saoirse Ronan, Seamus McGarvey and J.J. Abrams Honored at 5th Annual "Oscar Wilde: Honoring the Irish in Film"
The US-Ireland Alliance, a non-profit organization created to foster ties between the US and Ireland, honored actress Saoirse Ronan, cinematographer Seamus McGarvey, and producer, writer, director, J.J. Abrams at the fifth annual "Oscar Wilde: Honoring the Irish in Film" pre-Academy Awards party 4 March at The Ebell of Los Angeles. Tom Cruise presented Abrams with his award. Brían F. O’Byrne presented to Saoirse Ronan who accepted via video as she is filming in Europe. Author Colum McCann presented to Seamus McGarvey. Irish band Bell X1 and LA-based Jupiter Rising entertained the crowd of 400 people at the popular party, created by the Alliance to bring together people in the entertainment industries in the US and Ireland.
Emcee Colum McCann best summarized the evening when he said, "Tonight is a night where we honor the fact that our borders our expansive. But really, quite honestly, I also heard this is the best damn party in Hollywood."
Tom Cruise, who spoke warmly of his time filming in Ireland, said it is definitely befitting to honor J.J. Abrams as an ‘honorary Irishman’ because, "as a human being no one could ask for a better friend and as a filmmaker, he doesn’t see borders."
J.J. spoke effusively about his family’s recent visit to Ireland. He told the audience, "If you haven’t been to Ireland, please God go. Go right now." He told a funny story of losing his wallet in the west of Ireland. Miraculously, someone found it, Googled him, called his agent in Los Angeles. When JJ went to collect the wallet, the Irish police woman who found it, offered up the lost wallet in exchange for him telling her the ending of his popular tv series Lost.
Brían F. O’Byrne talked about Saoirse Ronan who was the first recipient of the event’s "Wilde Card," given to a rising talent in the film industry. Brían noted that Saoirse has already been nominated for Oscar and Golden Globe awards. He said that “in all walks of life, no matter what the occupation, a candidate will walk into a room and everyone will know ‘yeah, that’s the one.’ He called the 15 year-old, whom he had known as a baby, the ‘real deal’.
Seamus McGarvey told of filming in Botswana with the late director Anthony Minghella, where they were introduced on a daytime talk show as Anthony Mandela and Seamus Mugabe. Trina Vargo, president of the US-Ireland Alliance and host of the event, noted that Seamus captured the mission of the organization and the event with his comment that "in cinema and in art, there is no nation but the imagination."
Tribute was also played to those who were no longer with us. McCann referred to the passing of Roy Disney, Irish Times film credit Michael Dwyer, Hollywood reporter Steve Brennan and author Frank McCourt. Ireland’s Minister of State Martin Mansergh and McCann both also referred to the great loss of Senator Ted Kennedy who was such a great champion of Ireland and so very involved with the US-Ireland Alliance.
In his uniquely eloquent way he put the evening and the US-Ireland Alliance and the event in perspective: "The function of story-telling is that we find the better part of ourselves, even despite the evidence to the contrary. We tell stories -- in films and in books -- in order to keep ourselves going. That's an innate part of everyone's character, but something the Irish do particularly well. As Irish people, we belong to a sort of intimate everywhere. It's no longer silence, exile and cunning. The U.S Ireland Alliance has its finger on a very important pulse and their George Mitchell scholarships are one of the great opportunities for young American scholars. They expand the world and at the same time allow the local to be very important. It's as if the walls get removed and everyone can start roaming around."
Others in attendance included former Walt Disney Studios Chairman, Dick Cook; Irish Film Board Chairman, James Morris; Culture Ireland CEO, Eugene Downes; Abram’s producing partner at Bad Robot, Bryan Burk; Anton Yelchin; Dana Delaney; Patrick Bergin; Elaine Cassidy; Flora Montgomery; Samantha Mumba; Richard Chamberlain; and X Factor judge Louis Walsh. Oscar nominees on hand included: Peter Devlin, Michael Giacchino, Richie Baneham, Daniel Junge, Barney Burman, Mindy Hall, Chris Innis, Mark Stoeckinger, Roger Guyett, and the Irish Oscar nominated teams: Octagon Films, nominated for The Door; Brown Bag Films for Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty; and Cartoon Saloon for The Secret of Kells;
Major sponsors of the event include American Airlines, Culture Ireland, the Irish Film Board, Walt Disney Studios, Paramount Pictures and William Morris Endeavor Entertainment. The event committee includes Brad Grey, CEO of Paramount Pictures; Dick Cook, former Chairman of Walt Disney Studios; Charlie Koones, CEO of Rockmore Media; Alan Moloney, Parallel Films, Howard T. Owens, Managing Director of Reveille; John Fogelman of William Morris Endeavor Entertainment; and John Gardiner of Skadden Arps.