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Gaza Wins Best New Irish Documentary at Docs Ireland Festival
21 Jun 2019 : News Desk
The Red Carpet Film Festival in Gaza in previous years
Garry Keane and Andrew McConnell were awarded the Pull Focus Award for Best New Irish Documentary in the inaugural year of festival.

The judges of this year’s Pull Focus Award were documentarian Dónal Ó Céilleachair (The Camino Voyage), Kabosh Theatre’s CEO, Paula McFetridge and The Irish Film Institute’s Head of Irish Programming, Sunniva O’Flynn. 

A co-production from Donegal-based Real Films and Belfast-based Fine Point Films, ‘Gaza’ is a unique film project from directing duo Garry Keane (‘The Deafening’, ‘The Writing in the Sky’) and award-winning conflict photographer Andrew McConnell. Local Belfast filmmakers Brendan Byrne and Trevor Birney are co-producers on the film.

The feature documentary is filmed from beyond the reach of television news reports to reveal a world rich with eloquent and resilient people who live their lives in perennial conflict. It offers a cinematic and enriching portrait of people attempting to lead meaningful lives in the most horrific circumstances.  

It has also been announced that the filmmakers behind ‘Gaza’, have launched an appeal to restore a film festival in Gaza, donating the Pull Focus Award prize money of £2,500 to the Gaza Red Carpet Human Rights Film Festival appeal. 

The Red Carpet Film Festival in Gaza showcases films which focus on human rights issues and aims to provide Palestinians with a rare opportunity to explore their dreams, or at least practice some well deserved escapism. The festival has been running since 2015 but ended last year due to lack of funds.

A Go Fund Me page has been set up to raise money to support the restoration of the festival with the aim of raising £18,500 in the next couple of months. With the filmmakers’ donation, the total will exceed £5,000 this weekend which is more than a quarter of the appeal total needed. 

Garry Keane, Co-Director of Gaza said:

“Making the film Gaza was an eye-opener for us into how incredibly difficult it is for people to live there. Normal amenities that we take for granted are not available and they live with only four hours of electricity each day. The water table is polluted and the UN have said that Gaza will be unbearable to live in by 2020. There are no cinemas left in Gaza. They have all been destroyed. The Gaza Red Carpet Film Festival has in the past provided a means of escape through the arts to those who live there. Film can bring people together to forget about their life and be transported elsewhere. We want to restore that in Gaza by supporting the film festival. We are asking people to support this dream in whatever small way they can.”
Producer of Gaza, Brendan J. Byrne of Fine Point Films said:

“Art is a powerful form of escapism for people who live in the most unimaginable circumstances in Gaza. The blockade is making lives unbearable for over 2 million people. We want to help bring the power of film back to Palestinians and show them that the world and our film-making community here cares about them. The festival would also give us the opportunity to show our film to the characters who make it what it is as they have all refused to watch it via a link on their computers. It is a dream of our team to be able to bring our film back to the people. Any donation large or small would greatly help this cause and bring some joy through the power of authentic and poignant storytelling to those who need it.” 

Michele Devlin, Director of Docs Ireland said:

“Everyone should see Garry Keane and Andrew McConnell’s Gaza, especially the people in the community where it was made. The donation of the Pull Focus prize money to the Gaza Film Festival is a generous and admirable gesture. We know that film festivals in Ireland, the UK and beyond will join us in supporting the fundraising effort to help re-establish the event.”

To see the rest of the winners from the first Docs Ireland Festival, click here 

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