Filmmaker Conor English has been announced as the 2023 winner of the Westmeath Film Award. The annual award is a bursary of €10,000 granted to a local filmmaker to be used towards the production of a short 10–15 minute film or documentary in the county.
The 2023 Film Award will enable Conor to create his short documentary Roma - A Story of Chips and Wonder. The film will document the history of the local Roma chipper and its owners, exploring a story of immigration and the meeting of Italian and Irish cultures, with featured insights from the patrons who frequent the much-loved place.
It is a story rooted in Mullingar that hopes to prompt viewers into a “deeper understanding and connection to our shared histories”
Conor will be joined by producer Ethan Scally. Roma – A Story of Chips and Wonder will follow on from Conor and Ethan’s recent project Millie’s Maxol Magic, which followed a day in the life of local folk hero Millie Walsh.
The Film Award aligns with the Westmeath Art Office’s plans to support and promote filmmaking activity in the county, and to promote Westmeath as a county steeped in a rich local culture and history.
The Westmeath Arts Office made the selection with guest judges Vanessa Gildea and Aoife Barry. Gildea, who is Head of the Department of Film and Media at The National Film School IADT said;
“The quality of the screenwriting and storytelling talent on the shortlist for the Westmeath Film Award was enormously impressive. It’s especially encouraging to see a short documentary emerge as the winning project in only the second year of this important scheme for emerging Westmeath filmmakers. The proposal for the winning film Roma – A Story of Chips and Wonder was beautifully presented by talented filmmaker Conor English, it is a story full of heart that celebrates a culturally rich local community in Westmeath. I personally can’t wait to see the finished film.”
Speaking of his ambitions and motivations for making the film Conor said;
“I feel it’s very important to document and celebrate the great people, places, and stories we have in not only in Mullingar but Westmeath. I love Mullingar and I love the people, I love the oddities and the everyday things that we pass by without a thought - I’m very grateful to be supported in making such things that both interest me and the community.”
Judge Aoife Barry added;
"It was exciting to see the talent and fresh ideas coming from Westmeath creatives who entered this year's competition. It was tough to pick a winner, but this documentary stood out as it demonstrated a keen interest in the people who make the county what it is - showing that it's the stories of individuals that give us insight into what makes a community tick."
The award is supported by Westmeath County Council Arts Office and the Arts Council of Ireland.