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Double festival win Actress Abbie Stacey sparkles as young Irish stars bag double gold at Cannes film festival

We’re over the moon’

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Abbie Stacey from Brookfield in Tallaght, who won the Best Young Actress Award at the Cannes Film Festival with her mother Christine. Photo: Tony Gavin

Abbie Stacey from Brookfield in Tallaght, who won the Best Young Actress Award at the Cannes Film Festival with her mother Christine. Photo: Tony Gavin

Abbie Stacey from Brookfield in Tallaght, who won the Best Young Actress Award at the Cannes Film Festival with her mother Christine. Photo: Tony Gavin

The future of Irish cinema is bright, as young Dublin talents have taken home double gold at the Cannes Film Festival.

The short film Wanna Hang Out?, funded by Ballymun Regional Youth Resource, was named Best Narrative Short Film.

The 15-minute short starts with Beth, a young girl with Down syndrome, accepting a friend request from a stranger.

As the story exposes the shocking reality of online grooming, it highlights how vulnerable young people are to the dangers of the virtual world.

Beth is played by 17-year-old Abbie Stacey, from Tallaght, who scooped a second award for Best Young Actress in what was her acting debut.

“We’re over the moon, we can’t believe it – her first film and she’s already getting awards,” Abbie’s father Frank Stacey told the Irish Independent.

“We were absolutely delighted when we got nominated, that was an achievement in itself.

“When they said she was in the final three, we were flabbergasted.

“And then when she won it we couldn’t believe it.”

With this award under her belt, soap fan Abbie now has her eyes set on her next goal, to get a role on Coronation Street.

Wanna Hang Out? was written by 18-year-old Cormac O’Toole, from Ballymun.

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He came up with the first draft in only two hours while he was at a scriptwriting workshop with the youth group in Ballymun.

The inspiration for the film came from Cormac’s own experience.

He said he was spending a lot more time during lockdown on social media and began receiving friend requests from strangers.

“Once you accept, the world is open and anyone could come into your life,” said producer Jeff O’Toole.

“A young girl is bored, and vulnerable, and gets a friend request off a good-looking boy and she just says yes. One push of a button and nothing’s the same after that.”

Shooting was kept local, around Tallaght and Ballymun, with a crew of young people from both areas.

The short also featured an appearance by Tallaght actor Kieran O’Reilly of Love/Hate and Vikings fame.

The film was produced by Bread and Circus Productions.

Producer Jeff said he was happy for all the young people and was proud of the outcome for all those involved.

“You get tired of seeing our areas get battered in all aspects of the media. There’s good in all these places, it just gets overlooked now and again,” he said.

“For a young lad from Ballymun to be writing a film and to be starring a young girl from Tallaght and to do as well as it’s doing, it’s great, I’m delighted for them.”

Jeff is looking forward to bringing the film home after it does the international film festivals circuit.

He said it would be part of a charity gala screening in a few months’ time, and he would like to bring it home to feature in film festivals here.

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