Oonagh Kearney is an award-winning film writer and director based between London and Cork.
Oonagh has written and directed one full-length documentary and nine short films with the support of the Irish Arts Council, Irish Film Board, RTE, TG4, BRITDOC and The Wellcome Trust. Her work has screened globally at film festivals around the world, at institutes like the ICA, BFI, IFI, Big Screen Plaza in NYC and as part of the 2014 Art on the London Underground Series. Her work has been broadcast and distributed on TV, via online platforms such as the RTE and TG4 iplayer, and via dvd distribution with Aesthetica magazine and Tenderpixels Gallery in London.
As a director of screendance, Oonagh has collaborated with choreographers Cindy Cummings, Megan Kennedy and Jessica Kennedy. Her short film Her Mother’s Daughters screened at over seventy international festivals and won seven awards. Her 2012 Reel Art film Wonder House took an experimental approach to the exploration of art and science by combining choreographic sequences with documentary interviews. Nominated for Best Emerging International Filmmaker, Oonagh was awarded special mention at The London Open City Docs Festival in 2013.
"We want to draw special mention to Wonder House, probably the most ambitious film in the shortlist. We very much appreciate the originality of ideas expressed and applaud the beauty of the piece"
Briony Hanson, Head of Film, The British Council.
"They say writing about film is like dancing about architecture. Wonder House dances about science, and it works. This is an experimental and joyous film, full of striking imagery that constantly surprises"
London Open City Documentary Festival Selection Team.
Oonagh first cut her teeth in the film industry in 2005 as casting director to Ken Loach on his Palm d’Or winning film The Wind That Shakes the Barley. She trained at the National Film and Television School in London before casting another five feature films. Since 2010, she has focused on writing and directing. For two years, she taught film part-time at the University of Suffolk, and guest lectured at University College Cork and Birmingham City University. She holds a 1st class honours BA in English and Philosophy from University College Cork and a 1st class honours M.Phil in Irish Theatre from Trinity College Dublin.
Oonagh’s interest in the politics of representation can be traced back to her Irish Film Board short The Christening that tells the story of an Irish teenager travelling to London for an abortion. Oonagh is a founding member of Speaking of IMELDA that supports the urgent campaign to #Repealthe8th. Her work takes a playful approach towards the impact of family, growing up and the tensions between our private and public selves. In both her screendance and narrative films, women experience emotional or ethical conflicts connected to rites of passage.
Selected as a director on the UK talent scheme Guiding Lights in 2011, Oonagh was mentored by Clio Barnard. In 2013, Oonagh received a John Brabourne Award for emerging professionals in the British film and television industry. In November 2014, she was selected for the Puglia Experience, a workshop for sixteen international screenwriters in Puglia, Southern Italy. An alumna of She Writes, a Script Factory initiative to support female screenwriters, and Berlinale Talent Campus, Oonagh most recently took part in the Talent Lab Initiative run by the Irish Film Board.
Her dance film The Wake premiered at the Dublin International Film Festival in February 2016, and recently picked up awards at the Leben International Film Festival and FRAME: London Dance Film Festival. Her latest short film Oíche Nollaig na mBan (Women's Christmas Night) was commissioned by the Irish Arts Council and TG4 for a special season of Splanc! to celebrate a centenary of art since 1916. It premiered at the IFI in March and was broadcast on TG4. Both The Wake and Oíche Nollaig na mBan (Women's Christmas Night) will screen at the Galway Film Fleadh in July 2016.