Two Irish documentaries will screen at this year’s Hot Docs Film Festival in Toronto – the largest documentary festival in North America. Oisín Kearney’s Bojayá: Caught in the Crossfire will have its world premiere in the World Showcase strand of the festival and Kim Longinotto’s Shooting the Mafia will have its Canadian premiere in the Artscapes strand.
In 2002, 79 people died when The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC) launched a homemade mortar onto a church where many were hiding from crossfire between the FARC and the Paramilitaries. Leyner Palacios survived, but 28 of his family members did not. When peace between the government and the FARC was signed in 2016, after 50 years of conflict, Leyner made it his mission to ensure the peace deal was implemented to his people’s benefit, receiving a Nobel Peace Prize in the process. But, as the FARC demobilise, other armed groups seek to fill the power vacuum, and political pressure through presidential elections puts Leyner’s work, and life, at risk. Will this poster boy of peace be able to protect his family from another wave of violence? Bojayá: Caught in the Crossfire follows Leyner as he faces this fresh challenge.
Bojayá: Caught in the Crossfire is directed by Oisin Kearney and produced by Loretta van der Horst for Fine Point Films. Financing comes from Fís Éireann/Screen Ireland (FÉ/SI) is the national development agency for Irish filmmaking and the Irish film, television and animation industry., Northern Ireland Screen, and Kew Media.
In sharp contrast to the all-pervasive romanticised and glamorised media image of the Sicilian Mafia, Kim Longinotto’s feature documentary Shooting the Mafia, unflinchingly explores the stark reality of life, and death, under the oppressive yoke of the Corleonesi Mafia. Photographer Letizia Battaglia stood up to the Mafia and it is through her lens that we enter this world of ritualised slaughter, omertà, semi-religious oppression and feudal control. The scale of the mafia’s brutality and power is revealed through a combination of rare archive footage, newsreel and personal photographs and memories. The power of Letizia’s photography and the bravery and dedication of people like her helped to finally bring to an end the brutal reign of a bunch of small town thugs who’s reign of fear reached as far as the Italian presidency.
Shooting the Mafia is directed by Kim Longinotto and produced by Niamh Fagan for Lunar Pictures. Financing comes from Screen Ireland, Impact Partners, The Artemis Rising Foundation, and Screenscene Post Production.
Hot Docs Film Festival is North America’s largest documentary festival, conference and market. Its 26th annual edition will run from April 25th to May 5th, 2019.