Dr. Mary McAleese, Former President of Ireland, receives inaugural Vanguard Award from GAZE LGBT Film Festival

Former President Mary McAleese – Image: independent.ie

The GAZE LGBT Film Festival has presented Dr. Mary McAleese, Former President of Ireland, with the festival’s inaugural Vanguard Award.  The award was presented by filmmaker, John Butler, on the closing night of the hugely popular film festival in Light House Cinema, Smithfield, Dublin.

The special Vanguard Award was created this year by the GAZE Film Festival for a person, organisation, or ally, who has contributed to the LGBT community, through their humanitarian efforts or through the arts.  GAZE, proudly supported by lead sponsor, Accenture, ran across the Bank Holiday at Light House Cinema, where multiple Irish premieres took place.

Commenting on the presentation of the award, the Chairperson of the Board of the GAZE LGBT Film Festival, Sarah Williams, said:

“We are genuinely humbled that Dr. Mary McAleese has accepted our invitation to be the recipient of the inaugural Vanguard Award.  Dr. McAleese’s unwavering support for the advancement of the LGBT+ community has been widely acknowledged and praised, and we felt very strongly that we wanted to present her with this award this evening to mark her achievements.  The entire team behind GAZE were thrilled when Dr. McAleese informed us she was in a position to accept the award, and while the award is presented from the film festival, it is very much presented on behalf of the entire LGBT+ community to thank her for her outspoken commitment to all of us.  We thank her most sincerely for her continuing efforts as a strong ally.”

Filmmaker, John Butler, added:

“It’s an honour to present this award to a life-long hero of mine, what an inspiration and what a contribution to Irish life!”

Throughout the festival, now in its 26th year, filmmakers discussed their work and met with audiences during Q&As, following screenings of films that explored a broad range of subjects and stories.  Audiences flocked to Light House Cinema over the weekend, since the festival opened on Thursday night, resulting in another hugely successful event.

The closing film of the festival was Love, Scott, the inspirational story of Scott Jones, a young gay musician, who was attacked and paralysed from the waist down.  It captures both the trauma and triumph of its character’s journey, in a respectful, loving and nuanced way.

The GAZE Film Festival is proudly sponsored by Accenture, funded by partners the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, and The Arts Council, and is supported by Venue Partner Light House Cinema, along with the Australian Embassy in Ireland.  Other additional partners also provide valuable support.   

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