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Docs Ireland 2024 programme unveiled at Belfast Launch
16 May 2024 : News Desk
Docs Ireland 2024
Docs Ireland 2024 has unveiled their lineup of non-fiction film screenings and events in the festival programme which launches in Belfast today. A wide range of topics including feminism, colonialism, music and health will be explored in documentaries showing as part of the festival from 18th to 23rd June.

Docs Ireland 2024 opens on 18th June with the award-winning documentary The Flats directed by Alessandra Celesia. Closing this year’s festival is the extraordinary documentary No Other Land made by a collective of activists as a form of resistance to the ongoing injustices in their region. It follows Palestinian activist Basel Adra resisting the forced displacement of his people in Masafer Yatta in the West Bank.

Alongside the In Conversation with this year’s special guest Asif Kapadia, Docs Ireland has a programme of special events. On the night of the solstice (21st June), Women Folk will celebrate the often overlooked contribution of women in traditional Irish music. With live singing from Róis, Catriona Gribben and Stephanie Makem, great-granddaughter of Sarah Makem (traditional source singer and subject of David Hammond’s film), which will feature at the event in Rosemary St Church.

Docs Ireland will honour the work and life of broadcaster, documentary filmmaker, and musician David Hammond with an award for Outstanding Contribution to Irish Documentary and showcase some of his documentary shorts including Dusty Bluebells and The Magic Fiddle.

Throughout the festival, audiences will have an opportunity to hear directly from filmmakers and participants. Roisin Agnew’s The Ban explores the practice of dubbing the voices of IRA leaders on news broadcasts during the Troubles followed by a panel discussion with key participants in the film. A discussion will follow The Black and The Green from prolific documentarian St. Clair Bourne who followed five black civil rights activists on a fact-finding trip to Belfast in the 1980s.

Docs Ireland presents two screenings of classic documentaries for the first time in 3D in Ireland: Werner Herzog’s The Cave of Forgotten Dreams and Wim Wenders’ Pina.

Shellshock Music documentaries return this year with the Irish premiere of Toby L’s brand new documentary Blur: To The End, the Irish premiere of Mogwai: If The Stars Had Sound and Gama Bomb: Survival Of The Fastest about Northern Irish thrash metal band Gama Bomb.

Docs Ireland’s focus in on Irish film and this is exemplified in the annual Pull Focus competition which celebrates excellence in Irish documentary. This year’s lineup includes Alan Gilsenan’s IFTA-winning The Days Of Trees, One Night On Millstreet (dir. Andrew Gallimore) which captures the Celtic Tiger through a historic boxing match, an artist explores his feelings of grief about his mother’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis in Don’t Forget To Remember directed by Ross Killeen, and Burkitt by filmmaker Éanna Mac Cana explores his personal experience of Burkitt’s Lymphoma and the life and work of Irish surgeon Dr Denis Burkitt. Filmmaker Leo Regan draws on years of footage and material to convey the complex life of his good friend Lanre Fehintola in My Friend Lanre, an essay film by Katherine Waugh and Fergus Daly, I See A Darkness, explores the historical relationship between photography, cinema and science, in Neasa Ni Chianáin’s The Alexander Complex the tale of a group of ‘gentlemanly explorers’ is unravelled, and a historic fraud case collides with mortality in Colm Quinn’s Ransom 79.  

Docs Ireland presents international documentaries from across the globe. This year's diverse line-up has everything from a direct challenge to India’s Caste system in The World is Family, to uncovering family secrets in The Taste of Mango, to an exploration of one of the great character actors in Remembering Gene Wilder.

The Maysles Brothers Competition for Observational Documentary rewards the best in observational non-fiction filmmaking from all over the world. Union follows the Amazon Labour Union as they take on one of the biggest corporations in the world. The day-to-day life of a floating asylum is explored in On The Adamant,  Bhutanese documentary Agents of Happiness gives an intimate insight into the daily lives of communities in the Himalayas through the eyes of two ‘happiness agents’. With unprecedented access Hollywoodgate follows the Taliban in the immediate aftermath of the US’ pullout from Afghanistan and Flying Hands examines the stigma of disability in a mountain region of Pakistan.

This year’s festival has thrown a spotlight on two countries where documentary excellence is often overlooked on the international stage and is truly at its most urgent. As previously announced, the Focus on Palestine features films, seminars and discussions which are all fundraisers for Medical Aid Palestine. The Focus on Finland brings three world class documentaries directed by women to the forefront; a modern fairytale in Once Upon A Time In A Forest directed by Virpi Suutari, Máhccan/Homecoming follows Sámi director Suvi West as she reflects on the collective pain of the Sámi people’s stolen heritage and Finnish Focus wouldn’t be complete without documentarian Pirjo Honkasalo’s Melancholian 3 Huonetta/Three Rooms Of Melancholia, an examination of the unrelenting Chechen conflict.

The Zone celebrates “films that push and challenge the documentary form”. This strand will feature a lecture from filmmaker Simon Aeppli, and screenings of Operation Bogeyman: The Folk Horror Landscape Of 1970s Ireland, as well as Home Invasion, an existential musing on the history of the doorbell, Man Ray: Return To Reason, the early films of Man Ray with a new soundtrack from Jim Jarmusch, and a showcase of moving image art selected by Irish artists collective aemi, Back Translation.

Docs Ireland’s commitment to community work and development of the future of documentary in Ireland is exemplified in its Fieldwork strand. With showcases from both Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University, an exploration of Super 8 film with Brian Henry Martin, a project on Contemporary collecting in Northern Ireland and two brand new Irish language documentaries from TG4.

The festival prides itself in showcasing some of the best new short films in Ireland. This year is no different with four Irish short programmes with films that range from real time observation of the burning of a refugee camp in Ireland to an intimate portrait of man’s tender care of his pigeons to a midwife’s journey into the Peruvian jungle and much more.  

Docs Ireland’s Industry programme returns with its fifth Marketplace. Taking place over two days, it provides an opportunity for filmmakers to meet one-to-one with leading international documentary industry players, including international funders, broadcasters, distributors and exhibitors. The programme is packed with opportunities for those working or aspiring to work in the documentary film industry to attend a wide range of panels, workshops, talks and networking opportunities.

Docs Ireland is supported by Northern Ireland Screen through the Department for Communities, Belfast City Council, Screen Ireland and BFI/Film Hub NI, and is proudly sponsored by TG4, BBCNI and Yellowmoon.

Michele Devlin, Docs Ireland Director, said:
“How great is it that we will be marking the summer solstice as part of Docs Ireland 6 when the earth has a maximum tilt towards the sun.  In this programme we bring to Belfast a ‘midsummer docs dream’ with over a hundred short form and feature documentary titles, special events and guests; marketplace and pitching; international industry delegates, workshops, masterclasses, music and networking. This programme is bursting with talent, creativity and business opportunities. Documentary is indeed in our DNA.  A huge thank you to all our funders and sponsors, our audiences and filmmakers, we look forward to seeing you all.”

Stuart Sloan, Docs Ireland Programmer, added:
“At this year’s Docs Ireland we are proud to bestow five prestigious awards. The Pull Focus Competition for Irish Documentary is awarded to the best new Irish Feature. Nine films are up for the award this year. The Maysles Brothers Award for observational cinema, now in its 18th year, is given to the best fly on the wall documentary - 7 films compete, including films from Palestine, France, Pakistan and Bhutan. Our eighth annual Irish Short Documentary Competition will also run - we have chosen the best new shorts from scores of applicants. All these awards will be chosen by international juries made up of filmmakers and industry experts, who will also attend Docs Ireland in person."

“Docs Ireland also will present two special awards to two special filmmakers. Oscar-winning documentarian Asif Kapadia will visit Belfast to discuss his career and collect the Outstanding Contribution to Documentary. Pioneering broadcaster, documentary filmmaker and musician, David Hammond, will be posthumously be awarded the Docs Ireland Outstanding Contribution to Irish Documentary at a unique event in the brand new Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s University.”

Róisin Geraghty, Docs Ireland Head of Industry, said:
“We are so proud to see the recognition and scope of Docs Ireland growing year on year, and are proud to present our most fulsome industry offering yet in 2024.”

The Pure Class Delegates Passes includes access to all film screenings (excluding opening, closing, In Conversation and fundraising events), industry and networking events and can be purchased at the Docs Ireland Website.

Tickets for all Docs Ireland Festival screenings and events go on-sale on Thursday 16th May at 11am. Tickets can be purchased at the Docs Ireland website.

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