‘Emotional moment’ for Ger’s family at the IFTAs as film wins

Alan Owens


Alan Owens

Denise O'Brien - Ger McDonnell's sister - and JJ McDonnell with Colin Farrell at the IFTAs
MOVIE star Colin Farrell made a special effort to tell Ger McDonnell’s family how moved he was by the deceased climber’s story at the Irish Film and Television Awards.

MOVIE star Colin Farrell made a special effort to tell Ger McDonnell’s family how moved he was by the deceased climber’s story at the Irish Film and Television Awards.

The In Bruges star asked to meet the family, who were attending the awards as guests of The Summit director Nick Ryan, whose film won the George Morrison Feature Documentary Award.

JJ McDonnell said he was “very touched” by the effort made by the movie star to meet him and sister Denise at the glitzy awards bash in Dublin last Saturday night.

“It is a night for stars, it is their night - I was the intruder there as such,” said JJ this week.

“Nick brought him over and he said that he actually seen the film and was so impressed by it and deeply moved the entire thing.

“He was delighted to actually meet with us and very courteous. A man of his stature, you wouldn’t imagine he would have taken the time, but he stated that he couldn’t get over the story and was blown away by Ger.”

Upon collecting the award, Mr Ryan paid tribute to the climbers who perished on the mountain in 2008, patricularly Kilcornan’s Ger, whose “absolutely heroic act shone like a beacon of light, of hope, across everybody on that mountain that day”.

Nick and his team were shocked to win the award, as were the McDonnell family, but the gripping documentary film, which mixes real footage of the climb and interviews with survivors with reconstructed scenes, has won awards all over the world since its release last year.

JJ said the experience was “fantastic, a bit surreal and when the award was announced, it was a bit emotional”.

“It was a once in a lifetime experience, another journey that Ger has led us on,” he explained.

“This is a an extremely powerful documentary. What has amazed me is how the essence of Ger was captured in a documentary about that fateful weekend, that is not specifically all about Ger, but yet manages to do that.

“It was an unscripted speech and it was a testament to Nick that he still felt that he needed to dedicate to all those people, which was fantastic.”

JJ, who has previously stressed that the family “have no financial input or gain in any way” from the film, said he hoped its profile would be lifted in Ireland by the IFTA nod.

“I do think the profile will be lifted, and I wish them the very best with it,” he said.

“I hope for Nick and all the people involved, that it leads to other things for them, but for us, the fact that Ger’s memory is out there and will be watched...it is there for forever.

“The content and the story - to us, Ger’s story, that fateful weekend, I think Nick and his team have done such a great job to capture the essence of it.”

Limerick was well represented at the star-studded bash at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Dublin.

Philomena, which tells the story of Newcastle West woman Philomena Lee’s efforts to track down her son 50 years after she was forced to give him up for adoption, winning the award for Best International Film.

Limerick-born President Michael D Higgins won an Outstanding Contribution Honorary Award, while The Summit won the George Morrison Feature Documentary Award.

Limerick model Madeline Mulqueen also attended the awards bash with new fiance Jack Reynor, star of the forthcoming Transformers movie and the successful film What Richard Did.