Ross McDonnell: Emmy-winning Irish filmmaker disappears in New York

Police are investigating the disappearance of an Emmy award-winning Irish filmmaker and photographer, who was last seen in New York more than a week ago.

Ross McDonnell, 44, was last seen on a beach in Queens on 4 November, according to a missing person’s notice. The New York Police Department said he was spotted leaving his home on Taaffe Place in Brooklyn around 8.30pm (local time).

His locked bike was reportedly found at the Fort Tilden beach three days later on 7 November.

The filmmaker is originally from Howth, north of Dublin, but had been living in Brooklyn, New York, his friends said.

The police were searching for his red puffy North Face vest, black and white sneakers, dark-coloured khaki pants, and a black North Face backpack.

“You are not in trouble if you picked up his belongings, we just want to locate ASAP for clues to his disappearance,” the missing persons notice read.

People who might have his belongings in possession could also drop them at FDNY Engine 329 without any questions asked, it added.

Friends of the three-time Emmy winner said it is believed that the filmmaker had been on the beach and went out in the ocean.

“He was last seen last Saturday night, the alarm was sounded on Sunday, we don’t know much more than that,” Gene Gallerano, a close friend of Mr McDonnell, told The Irish Times.

“It’s been a very, very emotionally heavy week.”

The filmmaker has been described as a 5’9” tall man of athletic build and with a distinctively Irish accent.

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The local police have combed the area where Mr McDonnell was last seen and efforts were being made to locate the black backpack he had with him at the time “for clues to his disappearance”.

Mr McDonnell’s friends and colleagues have taken to social media to share the news of his disappearance while urging people to come forward with information.

“My good friend and amazing photographer and filmmaker Ross McDonnell is missing in seas off NYC,” wrote journalist Nicola Tallant.

“He is from Howth in Dublin but has travelled the world … and some ….capturing the lives of many. Emmy award-winning, compassionate, humble and so many plans.”

Journalist Ioan Grillo described Mr McDonnell as a “diamond who is in all our hearts”. “ Please help spread this and anyone there with any info, please come forward,” he added.

Mr McDonnell’s debut feature film Colony premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and won the IDFA First Feature Award as well as an Irish Film and Television Award Nomination, according to his website.

In 2021 he won an Emmy Award for his cinematography on the Showtime series The Trade. In 2019 he was shortlisted for photography award Prix Pictet in its cycle ‘Hope’.

He was also nominated for an Emmy in 2018 for his direction of the feature-length documentary Elian, which was produced by CNN Films, BBC and Jigsaw Productions.

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