The Irish Film Institute has announced the programme for the 16th IFI Documentary Festival, which will once again present the very best of new Irish and international documentary filmmaking. Featuring fifteen features in total and a perennially popular shorts programme, this year’s festival will include the world première of Marcus Robinson’s The Man Who Dared To Dream and seven Irish premières, including the festival’s opening film Minding the Gap, winner of the 2018 Sheffield Doc/Fest New Talent and Audience awards. The event will also welcome a number of special guests from across the globe throughout the five days of the festival.
Opening film and Irish première Minding the Gap is a virtuoso début that follows the lives of three young men, including director Bing Liu, as they go from carefree skateboarders to responsible adults in the economically deprived town of Rockford, Illinois. Liu tackles the veiled subject of the trio’s variously damaged upbringings, cycles of abuse and toxic masculinity with nuance, insight and great visual flair.
Robinson’s The Man Who Dared to Dream, is a cinematic homage to Peter Rice, one of the most distinguished engineers of the late 20th century whose work includes the Sydney Opera House, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, and the Lloyd’s building in London. The festival will also see a special preview screening of Tom Burke’s elegiac Losing Alaska which follows the inhabitants of Newtok, Alaska as their homes become endangered by coastal erosion; both Burke and Robinson will take part in post-screening Q&As.
Other guests scheduled to attend include Steven Eastwood, director of the intimate documentary Island which examines the final year in the life of four patients in the Mountbatten Hospice on the Isle of Wight; Almudena Carracedo, co-director of Sheffield Doc/Fest Grand Jury Prize winner The Silence of Others, will discuss her award-winning exploration of the battle to overturn a 1977 law that whitewashed the Franco regime’s crimes against the people of Spain; and Bernadett Tuza-Ritter, director of the unforgettable A Woman Captured which focuses on a Hungarian woman trapped in domestic servitude.
As always, the IFI Documentary Festival will showcase a number of superb Irish documentaries as part of its slate. Among the films shown, each followed by a post-screening filmmaker Q&A, will be Ross Whitaker’s Katie, a look at the notoriously private Olympic champion boxer Katie Taylor as she attempts to rebuild her career after a disastrous campaign at the 2016 Olympics; The Curious Works of Roger Doyle, a focus on the acclaimed Irish composer as he prepares to present his first opera; The Life After, an examination of the profound effect the Northern Ireland Troubles have had on the families of those who died during the conflict; When All Is Ruin Once Again, a richly-textured portrait of a rural Irish community as a motorway is carved through their land; and The Man Who Wanted to Fly, an endearing depiction of an 80-something Cavan bachelor who follows his dream to take to the skies.
Other Irish premières scheduled to screen are Erika Cohn’s The Judge, a focus on the first woman judge to be appointed to a Palestinian Shari’a Law court; Maxim Pozdorovkin’s amusing and troubling Our New President, which examines the election of Donald Trump in 2016 through the lens of Russian propaganda clips; and Paul Williams’s Gurrumul, a look at the fascinating career of the late blind Indigenous Australian musician Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu.
Rounding out the features programme will be the Irish première of Lovers of the Night, a gentle portrait of seven elderly Cistercian monks, residents of Bolton Abbey, Co Kildare, by German filmmaker Anna Frances Ewert; the film will be preceded by George Fleischmann’s 1948 short about Cistercian monks in Roscrea, Silent Order, and will also be followed by a Q&A.
Friday will see a panel discussion hosted in association with Screen Producers Ireland (SPI) examining the current state of documentary filmmaking in Ireland.
Finally, the highly anticipated Irish shorts programme, where the audience award is supported by Screen Scene, will return on Saturday afternoon with new films from Jamie Goldrick, Hugh Rodgers, Paul Power, Mia Mullarkey, Sean Mullan, Luke Brabazon, Paddy Cahill, and Maurice O’Brien.
Tickets for the IFI Documentary Festival are now sale. Individual screening tickets are €11, excluding the opening film which includes a post-show reception (€15). A special ticket package is available in person only from the IFI Box Office: 5 films for €45. Tickets for the Documentary Filmmaking Panel Discussion cost €5.
The IFI acknowledges the financial support of the Arts Council. The Irish shorts programme is kindly supported by Screen Scene.
20.20 Minding the Gap plus post-screening wine reception