Derry born Producer/Director Margo Harkin took a circuitous route to becoming an award winning filmmaker.

After leaving the Ulster College of Art and Design in 1974 she worked variously as a waitress, an artist, an Art Teacher, an Arts &Crafts tutor, a holly wreath maker and a saleswoman. She had a transformative experience in 1980 when she was asked to join Field Day Theatre company newly formed in Derry by Brian Friel and Stephen Rea. Starting out as the Assistant Stage Manager on Translations by Brian Friel she went on to design two plays before moving on to co-found the Channel 4 Workshop Derry Film & Video in 1984 with Anne Crilly and Trisha Ziff.

After producing the banned documentary Mother Ireland in 1988, Harkin co-wrote and directed her first drama, Hush-a-Bye Baby (1990), which won The Ecumenical Jury Award at the Locarno Film Festival 1990, the first of several international awards. Her documentary ‘12 Days in July’ (1997) was a critically acclaimed account of the Drumcree dispute. ‘The Hunger Strike’, made for the 25th anniversary of the 1981 Irish Hunger Strike, received record viewing figures when broadcast on BBC Northern Ireland. Over a twelve-year stretch from 1998 to 2010, Harkin filmed ‘Bloody Sunday-A Derry Diary’ a deeply personal documentary following the Tribunal of Inquiry into Bloody Sunday from the perspective of local people in addition to addressing Harkin’s own experiences on Bloody Sunday. In a change of direction Harkin produced the feature documentary ‘Waveriders’ (2008) about surfing in Ireland. Her latest documentary was ‘Eamonn McCann, A Long March’ (2018) about the election of the iconic civil rights activist to Stormont. Her work has been taught in media courses in Ireland and abroad and has been widely anthologised.

Margo will be in conversation with Michael Hewitt.

A fearless trailblazer, known and admired across the Irish film industry over many years for her integrity, attention to detail and passion for her projects. Margo Harkin continues to be a shining beacon of inspiration for the filmmaking community in Ireland and beyond. We are delighted and honoured to announce her as the first recipient of our award for Outstanding Contribution to Irish Documentary.