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Re-branded and enlarged IFI Documentary Festival kicks off this week
22 Sep 2015 : Seán Brosnan
'A Turning Tide in the Life of Man' directed by Loïc Jourdain
The newly rebranded and enlarged IFI Documentary Festival kicks off this week (September 23rd-27th) and will screen 14 feature length documentaries with one world premiere and 10 Irish premieres.

One of the IFI’s flagship festivals, the IFI Documentary Festival (formerly IFI Stranger than Fiction) will also welcome a host of special guest filmmakers from Ireland and abroad, alongside a series of special events; and will continue on the success of last year’s highly successful Industry Day, in partnership with the Irish Film Board, which will give filmmakers the opportunity to network with leaders in the field.

IFI Director Ross Keane said: “Documentaries form a key part of the IFI’s exhibition programme throughout the year, and this annual festival provides us with the opportunity to put an extra spotlight on this important form of filmmaking, bringing a range of fascinating stories from Ireland and around the world to our audiences.”

This year’s gala opening night film ‘Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans’, tells a candid, witty and insightful study of the screen idol’s fascination with motorsports and his commitment to make a film about French endurance race Le Mans – a huge folly and a commercial flop. Sharing the same love of cars but a world away from McQueen’s glamorous lifestyle, ‘Speed Sisters’ looks at the West Bank speed car racing scene which has flourished in recent years and at an all-female racing team who are breaking through in this male-dominated sport. Staying with sport, the allure of the boxing ring for documentary makers has always been strong and filmmaker Bert Marcus’ ‘Champs’, shows there are still many stories worth telling. Focusing on three American champions – Tyson, Holyfield and Hopkins – Marcus’ absorbing film presents boxing as a facilitator of the American Dream, but nevertheless has the courage to confront some serious failings in the sport.

This year’s selection of Irish documentaries includes the world premiere of Dearbhla Glynn’s ‘War in Eastern Congo’ which highlights the community impact of the devastating ongoing conflict which has claimed the lives of six million and seen the use of rape as a widespread weapon of war. Dearbhla Glynn will take part in a Q&A post-screening. ‘Bargaintown’, a rediscovered portrait of Dublin in the pre-Tiger era was made by German filmmaker, David Jazay in 1988, and is a powerful record of the lives and opinions of a vanished city; showing an auction at Tormey Brothers’, a night of song and dance at the old Workingmen’s Club on Wellington Quay and performances by veteran bluesman Frank Quigley. David Jazay will take part in a Q&A after the screening of this special record of the city that has never been seen in Dublin before.

Other Irish documentaries featured in the Festival are Loïc Jourdain’s ‘A Turning Tide in the Life of Man’, which follows island fisherman John O’Brien’s campaign to try to regain his ancestral right to fish the seas around Donegal, and will be screened in the presence of Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Joe McHugh, followed by a Q&A with the director. Short Irish documentaries are also celebrated and promoted at the festival with a programme that premieres the films from the Irish Film Board’s Reality Bites programme alongside the best independent submissions from around the country.

Two of the biggest news stories on either side of the Atlantic this year are examined in a fresh light in the Festival: immigration in Europe and the struggle against racially-aggravated gun violence in the U.S. David Aronowitsch’s ‘I Am Dublin’, focuses on Ahmed, an asylum seeker trying to build a life in Sweden but who is hamstrung by the EU Law known as the Dublin Regulation. ‘3 ½ Minutes, Ten Bullets’ looks at the shooting of a black American teenager during the consumerist clamour of Black Friday 2012 by a white man who claimed he acted in self-defence.

Winner of the Grand Jury Award in Sheffield Doc/Fest, ‘A Syrian Love Story’ by Sean McAllister (Reluctant Revolutionary) looks at the contemporary conflict in the Middle East, through the prism of two Syrian activists over five tumultuous years, from meeting and falling in love whilst incarcerated for crimes against the state, to later trying to raise a family in a country that has descended into chaos.

Jeanie Finlay, who opened the 2013 Festival with ‘The Great Hip Hop Hoax’, will return to this year’s festival to take part in a Q&A after the screening of her latest film ‘Orion: The Man Who Would Be King’, which in her characteristic style salvages a tale from the amnesia of the music industry. Telling the story of Jimmy Ellis who was dismissed as sounding too much like Elvis but found a dubious kind of fame after the King passed away. With his masked act ‘Orion’, Ellis helped fuel rumours that Elvis was still alive.

Documentary pioneer Albert Maysles (Grey Gardens, Salesman) sadly died in March and ‘In Transit’ is his final film. Depicting life aboard The Empire Builder, America’s busiest long-distance train route, in trademark observational style, it captures all human life and the beating heart of America. There will be a post-screening Q&A with Producer and Executive Director of the Maysles Documentary Center, Erika Dilday. Another filmmaker contributing work to this year’s festival is Chilean director Patricio Guzman (Nostalgia for the Light) whose new film ‘The Pearl Button’ uses his country’s inescapable geographic entanglement with water and the sea to explore moments in Chilean history from the brutal colonial era to Pinochet’s dictatorship and beyond. Russian documentary ‘Cinema: A Public Affair’ celebrates a passionate advocate for film culture: Naum Kleiman, director of the Moscow Film Museum and an internationally renowned Eisenstein scholar.

The Festival, in partnership with the Irish Film Board, will be presenting a selection of special industry events that foster talent, create international connections and bring filmmakers and audiences closer together. Two stand-alone panels are currently available: Radharc Restored: A Case Study in Restoration, and Women in Film and Television: Telling Tales; and a Documentary Industry Day that will include seminars, panels and the chance to network with international producers and programmers.

Tickets are on sale now from the IFI Box Office in person, on 01 679 3477 or online at www.ifi.ie/docfest.

IFI Documentary Festival is supported by the Irish Film Board, Goethe Institut Irland, and RTÉ Supporting the Arts and they acknowledge the financial support of the Arts Council.




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