Shaun O’Connor’s A White Horse was filmed in Cork city and county. The story, which takes place in the 1970s, explores how mental hospitals were once used as catch-alls for people considered “troublesome” or “abnormal”.
O’Connor, a graduate of University College Cork, was inspired to explore this subject after discovering that gay conversion therapy was widespread in Ireland and Britain in the 1960s and 1970s.
A White Horse won the Best Irish Short award at the Foyle Film Festival in November 2019 – recognition that has led to a coveted place on the longlist for the 2021 Oscars.
O’Connor said he was “thrilled” with the success of the film and that audiences around the world have responded positively. “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.
'A White Horse' has won Best Irish Short Film at @FoyleFilm and is now officially in consideration for next year's Oscars. We're over the moon and can scarcely believe it. A HUGE thank you to @ek2471 + everyone at the festival for making us feel at home in beautiful Derry! 👏😊🎥 pic.twitter.com/GhutzfxHFt
— Shaun O Connor (@shaunoconnor1) November 25, 2019
“To have the film speak to people like that, and also do so well on the international stage, has been incredibly gratifying,” he said.
The short film was made with the Screen Directors Guild of Ireland ARRI Take Award and stars Cora Fenton, who viewers may recognise from The Young Offenders, and newcomer Amber Deasy.
The shortlist for this year’s Oscar nominations will be announced on February 9th.