This week Belfast will become the centre of the documentary filmmaking world when the inaugural Docs Ireland begins on Wednesday 12th June.
The last decade for the Irish film and television industry has been tremendously successful: Belfast has been the home of the world’s number one television series in ‘Game of Thrones’; while shorts ‘The Shore’ and ‘Boogaloo and Graham’ enjoyed Oscar and BAFTA success; and feature ‘Bad Day for the Cut’ played at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival. All these productions and many more have helped to raise the profile of the industry here, but also of filmmakers from this island. Flying under the radar a little until now has been Irish documentary film.
Documentary film has long held an important place in Irish cultural history, but in recent years it has flourished like never before with a series of prominent films. Many of these films have played an important role in helping us better understand our own history and culture- like ‘Bobby Sands: 66 Days’, ‘A Mother Brings Her Son to be Shot’, ‘The Image You Missed’ and ‘Unquiet Graves’- but Irish filmmakers are also looking outwards more than ever, with the likes of Emer Reynolds’ ‘The Farthest’ and this year’s closing night film ‘Gaza’.
Docs Ireland is excited to welcome many of the leading figures from contemporary Irish documentary film, as well as several of documentary cinema’s most internationally renowned filmmakers, including:
Alex Gibney, the Oscar-winning director of ‘Taxi to the Dark Side’, is one of modern cinema’s most accomplished and productive documentarians. His films include ‘The Armstrong Lie’, ‘Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room’, ‘Going Clear: Scientology & the Prison of Belief’. He will be In Conversation (Wednesday 12th June at 6.45pm) to open the festival and his latest ‘The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley’ will screen with an introduction from Alex (Thursday 13th June at 2.30pm).
Thom Powers is the Documentary Programmer for Toronto International Film Festival and the artistic director of DOC NYC, the largest documentary film festival in America, which makes him one of the most knowledgeable people on the planet about documentary cinema. Thom will be recording a live episode of his Pure Nonfiction podcast (Thursday 13th June at 6.30pm) with Mark Cousins, as well as introducing the screening of Marcel Ophüls’ A Sense of Loss (Thursday 13th June at 6.10pm).
Mark Cousins is an internationally renowned critic, writer and filmmaker, his work includes ‘The Story of Film’, ‘I am Belfast’ and ‘The Eyes of Orson Welles’. Mark will be taking part in a live recording of the Pure Non-Fiction podcast with Thom Powers (Thursday 13th June at 6.30pm) and also presenting an exclusive work-in-progress screening of his current project ‘Women make Film’ (Sunday 16th June at 2.15pm).
Jeanie Finlay, described as a ‘master-documentarian’ by Mark Kermode, directed the recent and highly-acclaimed documentary on the final season of Game of Thrones, ‘The Last Watch’ (Thursday 13th June at 6.30pm) and she will be in attendance for a Q & A after the film. Jeanie will also be present for a screening of her new film Seahorse, the story of the dad who gave birth (Wednesday 12th June at 6pm).
Don Letts was the videographer to British punk rock, documenting performances by the Clash, the Slits and the Sex Pistols and directing ‘The Punk Rock Movie’, as well as the seminal music documentary ‘The Clash: Westway to the World’. Don will be In Conversation with Joe Lindsay (Sunday 16th June at 6.15pm) about his career.
Margo Harkin is one of the most significant Irish documentary filmmakers of the the last 25 years. Her films include ‘The Hunger Strike, ‘Waveriders’, ‘The Far Side of Revenge’ and ‘Eamonn McCann: A Long March’. Margo is our choice to be the first ever recipient of the Docs Ireland award for Outstanding Contribution to Irish Documentary and will be In Conversation with Michael Hewitt (Saturday 15th June at 6pm).
Seamus Murphy is an Irish photojournalist and seven-time World Press Photo award-winner. He is a frequent collaborator of musician PJ Harvey and will be attending the screening of his film A Dog Called Money (Friday 14th June at 8.30pm).
Oisin Kearney is a graduate of Northern Ireland Screen’s Aim High production scheme and is a self-shooting director and producer, working on such films as Bobby Sands: 66 Days and Elián. He will be in attendance for the screening of his debut feature, Bojayá: Caught in the Crossfire (Saturday 15th June at 6.30pm).
Shane Smith is the director of programming for Hot Docs, the internationally renowned American documentary festival and marketplace. Shane will be In Conversation (Friday 14th June at 11am) about documentary cinema and the programming process.
Rachel Hooper is a documentary film producer and former BBC journalist and radio producer. Her recent credits include ‘Border Country: When Ireland was Divided’ and ‘Leonora Carrington- The Lost Surrealist’. Rachel will be leading a Producer’s Case Study (Thursday 13th June at 10am), breaking down the process of getting a film made from pitch to delivery.
Barry McCaffrey is an award-winning journalist, who was of the journalists who was recently exonerated in the controversial case that arose out of documents used in the film ‘No Stone Unturned’ about the unsolved Loughinisland murders. Barry will be taking part in a panel discussion on Freedom of the Press (Wednesday 12th June at 3pm).