Aoife Barry and Vanessa Gildea to judge the 2023 Westmeath Film Award

Aoife Barry, bestselling journalist and broadcaster, and Vanessa Gildea, award-winning filmmaker and Head of Department Film + Media and the National Film School at IADT are set to judge this year's 2023 Westmeath Film Award. The Westmeath Film Award offers a bursary of €10,000 to a filmmaker towards the creation of a short film or documentary in Westmeath.

This award is funded by Westmeath County Council Arts Office and the Arts Council of Ireland. It provides crucial support to filmmakers early in their career, enabling significant professional development by financing the creation of new work. It aims to foster talent, creativity and activity in filmmaking in County Westmeath.

Aoife Barry is an arts and culture journalist and broadcaster based in Dublin, and author of the bestselling book Social Capital (HarperCollins Ireland), about Ireland’s relationship with social media. A former assistant news editor at The Journal, she reported on the 2023 Oscars from Hollywood. She has interviewed filmmakers and actors including Cate Blanchett, Pedro Pascal, Colm Bairéad, Neil Jordan, and Paddy Breathnach. She has MC’d live interviews for the Dublin International Film Festival and led workshops for Young Irish Film Makers. Aoife has been published by outlets including the Irish Times, Irish Independent, and Examiner, and features regularly on RTÉ Radio, Ireland AM and Today FM. Her essays have been published by Banshee journal, Visual Verse, and featured on Sunday Miscellany.

Vanessa is an award winning Producer / Director / Writer and Head of Department Film + Media and the National Film School, IADT. She has a Masters in Screenwriting (First class hons) from the NFS and a BA in Media & Communication and English. Vanessa has received five IFTA nominations including as writer / director of The White Dress,  as producer in the Feature Documentary category  for Dambé – The Mali Project , John Ford – Dreaming the Quiet Man, as Producer / Director of The 34th – A history of Marriage Equality in Ireland and as part of the team that made the IFTA winning  1916 The Irish Rebellion. She is a former Vice-Chair of Women in Film & TV Ireland and served on the board for three years and co-founder and documentary programmer of the Catalyst International Film Festival that celebrates diversity in the film industry.

Vanessa’s credits as writer / director include I AM IRELAND -  an art dance commission film for Culture Night and RTÉ Arts & Culture 2020.  The Lunch experimental short film currently in post-production, this project is the recipient of the SDGI ARRI ALEXA TAKE Award. Feature documentary The 34th   - (Netflix UK & Ireland).  The Arts Council Project Award film and multi award winning The Abandoning, Keeping the Beast at Bay –for Venom Films. Documentary O Béal go Bhéal um Nollaig for RTÉ,  and The White Dress, winner of six best short film festival awards and an IFTA nomination.

Vanessa was the first recipient of the Tyrone Guthrie Film Bursary award and has received two Arts Council Film Bursaries & a Film Project Award. She has worked freelance as a producer and director with a variety of companies including Loopline Film, COCO TV, Harvest Films and RTÉ Arts & Culture on projects as diverse as the Culture Night Live concert at Collins Barracks, curating the RTÉ Tent at the All Together Now Festival, The Irish Folk Awards Film Tributes, Dermot Bannon’s Incredible Homes and with director Dearbhla Walsh on I’m Roger Casement .

Read more about the 2023 Westmeath Film Award.