Offaly filmmaker in the mix for Oscar nomination after film fleadh success

A charming documentary by an Offaly-based filmmaker which recounts the true story of two Irish boys who ran away from home and ended up in New York has qualified for consideration for an Oscar nomination after it won a major award at the International Galway Film Fleadh last weekend.

“Nothing to Declare” was written, directed and produced by Garret Daly, who is Managing Director of Mixed Bag Media, an award-winning Irish film and television production company based between Daingean and Croghan, in a townsland known as Down Lane.

Garret and his Offaly-born wife, Martina McGlynn, who is also an award-winning filmmaker in her own right with many credits to her name, are this week daring to hope that an Oscar nomination could come their way following a major win for Garret’s latest documentary at the Galway Film Fleadh.

The documentary, “Nothing to Declare” took the top honours in the short documentary category, which means it can now go forward for consideration by the adjudication committee for the Oscars.

“Galway Film Fleadh is one of around 75 Festivals worldwide which is accredited by the Oscars, so to be considered for an Oscar nomination you have to win at one of the accredited Festivals,” explains Garret, who says it is “a huge honour” to have won the top documentary award in Galway.

“It puts us in the frame for an Oscar nomination,” he says, although he is realistic enough to admit that it would be “a pipe dream” for his documentary to actually make it as far as the Oscars. “It brings us a step closer, and we are delighted to have got this far, but we will be up against probably around 100 documentaries worldwide, and only five will be shown on the night of the Oscars.”

The idea for “Nothing to Declare” came about when Garret decided to make a feature film about two young boys, Keith Byne (10) and Noel Murray (13) from Darndale who captivated the nation and created international headlines when they ran away from home in August 1985 and managed to make it all the way to New York without a single plane ticket between them!

“The film is set in 1985 when they were two young boys, but when people kept asking me what ever became of them I decided to contact them to see if they would be interested in recounting their adventure, and here we are 36 years later with the two boys on screen together for the very first time telling the story in their own words.”

Describing the story as being “truly extraordinary” Garret Daly says it is something that could “never happen today” with all the security around air travel and due to the fact that we live in an age of instant communications.

An added insight into the documentary is the fact that Garret Daly and Martina McGlynn have two boys who are almost the same age as the two young Darndale boys who embarked on their stowaway adventure to New York! Nataniel is 13 and Marcus is eleven, and Garret says it would be “unthinkable” that they could get away with doing what the two Darndale boys of the same age had done in 1985!

The feature length film of “Nothing to Declare” is at the pre-finance stage, and Garret Daly says it takes “a lot of time and energy” to secure finance for film projects and Covid has not helped in the bid to secure finance, particularly from backers in the lucrative American market.

He says the partnership between himself and his wife Martina “is great in every way” and that they often “chop and change” between producing and directing film projects. “Sometimes we co-share the roles so it is a great arrangement and a great partnership in every way,” he admits.

Garret and Martina are always working on some film project or other, and they already have two other feature films in development with Screen Ireland.

As far as “Nothing to Declare” is concerned, Garret says the documentary was originally made for the film and festival circuit, in the hopes that it might eventually be picked up by a broadcaster or some of the streaming services such as Netflix.

“The usual route that we would take is to start with the film and festival circuit and build the profile from there, and who knows where it could go from there?”

In the meantime, there is always the outside chance that the adjudication committee for the Oscars could be bowled over by the extraordinary story of two Irish children who left their home in Dublin one sunny day 36 years ago to head to New York!