A short film written and directed by Jon Beer and produced by Enniskillen's Brian J. Falconer has been recognised with a prestigious award in an Oscar-qualifying category at this year's Galway Film Fleadh.

Following its Irish premiere at the film festival, where it was showcased in the 'Irish Talent: New Shorts Five: Fiction' section, 'Saul & I' was announced the winner of the Tiernan McBride Award for Best Fiction Short.

Commenting that the team behind 'Saul & I' are "absolutely delighted" to win the award, Jon told The Impartial Reporter: "I love Galway, and myself and Brian screened our first film there 10 years ago. I just love it as a festival - I think it's great. The programme has great events and it also has good international recognition.

"I've always obviously wanted to win that award and as you can imagine, we're absolutely delighted with it."

Outlining the synopsis of 'Saul & I', which stars Tom Greenhalgh, Paul Mallon and Toni O'Rourke, Jon said: "It's about two artists who push each other to the extreme. It's kind of a strange narrative because we join the story 15 years after an incident where one of the artists died.

"It's a bit of a mystery as it unfolds and we realise Nina, the protagonist of the film, is putting on this exhibition for the first time because she has been in prison for the murder of her collaborator.

"The truth of the story is it was an accident that happened in a piece of work they made, and part of the exhibition is this piece so we get to see in real time exactly what happened."

The short film is 13 minutes in length and falls under the thriller category, but not in the traditional sense.

Jon explained: "These are unique characters to see on screen because you don't see a lot of conceptual performance artists on screen as characters. You see a lot of films about police, a lot of thrillers about people who are in a thrilling profession. You don't often see the artists, making art essentially."

Long-term collaborators, Jon and Brian have been working together for 13 years, and set up their production company, the Bafta and IFTA award winning, BFI Vision Award supported Out of Orbit 10 years ago.

Previously they worked together as director and producer on the 2014 short film 'Land is God' which starred Enniskillen actor Ciarán McMenamin, with scenes shot in rural Fermanagh.

"I'm very close to the people of Fermanagh," said Jon.

'Saul & I' had previously been shown in Finland at the Tampere Film Festival in March 2021, and following its success at Galway, Jon and Brian hope to showcase it at more film festivals across the world.

"We have it in consideration for a number of other festivals both in Ireland, Europe and in the States. But the great thing is, the Tiernan McBride Award for Best Fiction Short is Oscar-qualifying," said Jon, going on to explain that without a win at an Oscar-qualifying festival, a film can't be considered on the longlist for the Academy Awards.

"It now means we can be considered in the long-list. So a few more high profile festivals can start putting it in contention for the Oscar shortlist, so that will be our plan now. Now we have a sniff, we'll try as hard as possible to get it into as many prestigious festivals as we can," he told this newspaper.