- 03 Feb 21
"The college, course and lecturers have all been incredibly supportive of my work in the years since," O'Connor said of UCC's Film Studies department, describing his college experience as 'formative'.
A short film by Kerry filmmaker Shaun O'Connor is in contention for an Oscar nomination, after securing a place on the Academy Awards’ 2021 longlist.
‘A White Horse’ by a UCC graduate O’Connor tells the story of a scared and confused young woman in 1970s Ireland - starring The Young Offenders actress Cora Fenton and newcomer, Amber Deasy.
The young woman enters a telephone booth, but her parents are waiting for the call. The conversation slowly reveals a hidden truth.
Among the accolades garnered to date, the short film has won the award for Best Irish Short at the Foyle Film Festival in November 2019 - leading to a coveted place on the Oscars' 2021 longlist.
Filmed in Cork city and county, the story explores how mental hospitals were once used as "catch-alls" for people considered 'troublesome’ or ‘abnormal’.
Shaun is a UCC graduate of the MA in Film Studies Class of 2006, and was inspired to explore this subject after discovering that gay conversion therapy was widespread in the British Isles in the '60s and '70s, and is still legal in the UK and Ireland.
The director said his time in UCC had a formative impact on his successful career.
"The team and I behind A White Horse are thrilled with the success of the film. Even though it's an Irish story, it's been amazing to see how much audiences around the world have responded to it," he told Cork's EchoLive.
"At Irish festival screenings we inevitably had people approach us afterwards to tell us how they related to the film, either in terms of their own past experiences or that of family members. To have the film speak to people like that, and also do so well on the international stage, has been incredibly gratifying."
He added, "My time at UCC was pivotal in my filmmaking career. Doing the MA in Film Studies there introduced me to so much film history and gave me new ways to interpret and appreciate the medium."
Watch the trailer for A White Horse below: