7 December 2022 The Irish Film & Television Network
If 2015 was golden year for Irish fictional films, 2016 may be golden year for Irish documentary
06 May 2016 : Seán Brosnan
Could 2016 be a golden year for Irish documentary
If 2015 was the golden year for Irish drama films (with ‘Room’ and ‘Brooklyn’ dominating the international awards scene), then 2016 is shaping up to be a golden year for Irish documentaries.

Three Irish films are currently lighting up Hot Docs in Toronto, North America's largest documentary festival.

Colm Quinn’s ‘Mattress Men’, Brendan J. Byrne’s ‘Bobby Sands: 66 Days’ and Pieter-Jan De Pue’s ‘The Land of the Enlightened’ have had multiple screenings this week at the festival, which attracts an overall audience of over 200,000 people, with all three films being received positively.

Check out some of the tweets about all three films this week.

All three films are also selected for the 2016 Sheffield Doc/Fest with ‘Bobby Sands: 66 Days’ and ‘The Land of the Enlightened’ two of 12 films competing for the Grand Jury Prize. Also screening at Sheffield is Seán Ó Cualáin's documentary 'Crash and Burn' as well as John Barton's short film 'The Grey Area', while Kennedy Films and Newgrange Pictures feature ‘It’s Not Yet Dark’ and Besom Productions and Inis Films doc 'Bullock Rock' will both be pitched at Sheffield's annual MeetMarket.

‘Bobby Sands: 66 Days’, directed by Brendan J Byrne, is a cinematic portrait of the Irish Republican's 66-day hunger strike. At seventeen, Bobby Sands was interested in girls, soccer and music. Ten years later he led a prison protest against the conditions in Northern Ireland's infamous H-Blocks that grabbed the attention of the whole world. On his death on May 5th 1981, parliaments across the world stopped for a minute's silence in his memory. ‘Bobby Sands: 66 Days’ is the story of his hunger strike in what became the epicentre of one of the most tense and defining moments of the conflict in Northern Ireland. Produced by Trevor Birney and Brendan J Byrne for Fine Point Films / Cyprus Avenue Films, the film was funded by the Irish Film Board, Northern Ireland Screen, BBC NI, BBC Storyville, SVT and DR and will be released in Irish cinemas this summer by Wildcard Distribution.

Directed by Pieter-Jan De Pue, ‘The Land of the Enlightened’ was co-produced by Morgan Bushe for Fastnet Films. In the shadow of Bagram Airfield - the bastion of U.S. military might in Afghanistan - exists a wartime economy that is run and controlled entirely by children. Nomadic Kuchi youngsters dig out anti-personnel mines and sell them to the child workers of the lapis lazuli mines. They in turn blast the precious blue stones free from their ancient resting place, to be smuggled by child soldiers, who control their passage to China and Tajikistan. There, the stones are bartered for arms and opium, the very lifeblood of the Taliban in their war against the U.S. occupation. The film scooped the World Cinema Cinematography Award for a Documentary at Sundance in January.

'Mattress Men' is directed by Colm Quinn, produced by Ciaran Deeney and David Clarke and is the first feature length film from Dublin based independent production companies El Zorrero Films and Faction Films. Mattress Men tells the story of a struggling mattress businessman, sixty-something Michael Flynn who teams up with aspiring film maker Paul Kelly to reinvent himself as the eccentric online persona ‘Mattress Mick’. Through Paul’s zany videos and creative use of social media Mattress Mick quickly becomes an unlikely local celebrity. However as the business and Mick’s profile begins to grow, their friendship comes under increasing pressure. The film is due for release in Irish cinemas in Autumn 2016.

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