The programme for the 2016 IFI Documentary Festival has been announced. One of the IFI’s flagship festivals running over 4 days in September the festival will showcase the finest original international and Irish documentary films and provides a platform for Irish filmmakers to show their work with 13 feature length documentaries, 1 world premiere and 8 Irish premieres.This year highlights include:
How To Defuse A Bomb: The Project Children Story. A 1970s scheme saw children from Northern Ireland offered the chance to spend their summers in suburban USA. With contributions from Bill Clinton, Martin McGuinness and the now-adult children this screening has its world premiere screening at the festival.An intriguing look at Ireland through the eyes of journalist Peter Lennon who returned home to Ireland to find a country stagnating under the weight of its own history in Blindboy presents Rocky Road to Dublin – with a screening of this iconic 1968 film, followed by a discussion with the Rubberbandits’ Blindboy Boatclub.
This year’s Irish shorts programme features 8 works capturing the pulse of the traditional documentary scene, drawing on new shorts from filmmakers living in Ireland.
An intriguing drama-documentary hybrid takes us on a cinematic odyssey into the heart of war-tormented Afghanistan in The Land of the Enlightened. Shot over seven years, director Pieter-Jan De Pue paints a whimsical yet haunting picture of the country at a time of flux.
The Festival features a strong international programme with films from USA, UK, Netherlands and Israel. They include:
The winner of the 2016 Grand Jury Award at Sheffield Doc/Fest, Cameraperson from Kirsten Johnson, one of the most notable cinematographers working in documentary today, uses footage and outtakes from films including Fahrenheit 9/11, Citizenfour andThe Invisible War to illustrate moments and situations that have affected her. Kirsten Johnson will take part in a post-screening Skype Q&A.
Directors Ross Adam and Robert Cannan will be in Dublin for the screening of The Lovers and The Despot, a gripping film which recounts how in 1978 North Korean dictator (and movie buff) Kim Jong-il kidnapped a famed South Korean celebrity couple – actress Choi Eun-hee and director Shin Sang-ok – hoping their star wattage would invigorate his burgeoning moviemaking empire.
Audience Award winner at Berlin Who’s Gonna Love me Now?, charts the journey of Saar Moaz an affable forty-year-old gay Israeli man living in London, home to confront the resentment and prejudices that saw him flee his homeland.
In Lo and Behold: Reveries of The Connected World, Werner Herzog turns his singular brand of cultural analysis to what is perhaps the defining technological development of our age – the Internet – and finds it at best problematic.
A profoundly autistic boy learns to communicate through reciting memorised dialogue from Disney films in Roger Ross William’s inspirational case history Life, Animated.
An intriguing family portrait which doubles as investigation, in A Family Affair. Director Tom Fassaert’s film is an attempt to untangled his family’s troubled history with its 95 year old matriarch Marianne Hertz around a never discussed or resolved act has since caused the family to passively unravel under a burden of resentment, guilt and regret.
Featuring glorious concert footage The Music of Strangers: Yo Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble profiles this eclectic group of gifted musicians from across the globe. Directed by Oscar-winning Morgan Neville (20 Feet from Stardom) The Silk Road Ensemble are in many respects the crowning achievement in the career of world-beating Chinese-American cellist Yo Yo Ma, whose questing musical spirit is given free reign as leader of the supergroup.
Tower, A forensic, moment-by-moment chronicle of America’s first major school shooting that imaginatively blends cutting-edge rotoscoping animation with more traditional documentary techniques
Booking now open: Tickets from €10.50 Tel: 01 679 3477 / Online:www.ifi.ie/docfest In person: IFI 6 Eustace Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2.
The Irish Premiere of Mattress Men is a new Irish documentary from Director Colm Quinn. In an attempt to save his struggling mattress business, sixty-something Michael Flynn reinvents himself as the eccentric online personality ‘Mattress Mick’ under the guidance of his good friend Paul Kelly. Paul, burdened with debts and living with his family in inner city Dublin, yearns too for a full-time contract. Using all his marketing savvy and entrepreneurial skills, Paul embarks on a mission to make Mattress Mick a viral sensation. Will he be successful in his endeavours? And will Mick finally recognise the hard work and good intentions of his long-time friend? Vividly reflective of Ireland’s crippling austerity, Mattress Men is a wholly engrossing tale – peppered with startling revelations – of a friendship sorely-tested. Date: 22 Sept, 8pm
Blindboy presents Rocky Road to Dublin (Dir: Peter Lennon). In 1967 Paris-based journalist Peter Lennon returned home to find a country that was stagnating under the weight of its own history. His response was this film, his only one, a brash, polemical essay which contrasts the aspirations of the founders of the state with the ideological malaise afflicting Ireland of the day. Inspired by the French New Wave the film creates a montage of wryly critical commentary, interviews with public and private figures and Raoul Coutard’s nimbly photographed montage of Dublin by day and night. It will be discussed post-screening by filmmaker Paul Duane and Rubberbandits’ Blindboy Boatclub who says the film “is like your Uncle’s old diary that you find in the attic, that finally explains all those scars he never talks about”’, Date: 24 Sept 8.30pm
How To Defuse A Bomb: The Project Children Story (Dir: Des Henderson) In 1975 Irish immigrant Denis Mulcahy of the NYPD bomb squad – gathered a group of family, friends and neighbours to start a scheme offering children from Northern Ireland a chance to temporarily escape the violent turmoil of their daily lives. From modest beginnings Project Children ultimately brought over 20,000 Catholic and Protestant children to suburban US for summer-long visits where they forged unexpected friendships and found they had more in common with the “enemy” than they thought. Featuring a gem of a 1970s American TV film of the scheme and contributions from Bill Clinton, Martin McGuinness and the now-adult children, the personal stories are positioned within the wider political story of how Washington struggled to deal with Northern Ireland and Irish-America’s complex relationship with home. Date: 25 Sept, 1.30pm
Irish shorts programme: This year’s short film programme captures the pulse of the traditional documentary scene, drawing on new shorts from filmmakers living in Ireland. It includes Edward Costello’s Become Invisible a haunting picture of an artist and rural isolation; Paddy Cahill’s Sean Hillen, Merging Views, a personal and informative view of the artist at work; Bryony Dunne’s Gasper about a Slovenian man living deep in the Irish countryside; Closed Wounds, Lanka Haouche Perren’s reflection on children in a Mental Asylum in Belarus; Michael Lavelle’s succinct portrait of Bob Crowley Stage Designer; Hanan Dirya’s Diving Within, a portrait of a Malaysian woman’s journey of self-discovery and Gregory Dunn’s Toasted– a quirky profile of a Swedish print-maker. There will be an Audience Award for Best Short supported by Bord Scannán na hÉireann/Irish Film Board. Date: 24 Sept 12pm
Cameraperson (Dir: Kirsten Johnson) USA. One of the most notable cinematographers working in documentary today, Kirsten Johnson has shot films of the calibre of Fahrenheit 9/11, Citizenfour and The Invisible War; using outtakes and unused material from these films, and many others, Johnson reframes the footage associatively in the style of a collage, or visual essay to illustrate moments and situations that have affected her. The result is a film that pushes at the boundaries of the documentary form, arguing for new modes of expression. Winner of the 2016 Grand Jury Award at Sheffield Doc/Fest, Cameraperson is as thrillingly inventive it is profoundly moving, and asks pertinent questions about the relationship between filmmaker and subject. Date: 23 Sept, 6.20pm
Life, Animated (Dir: Roger Ross Williams) USA. A profoundly autistic boy learns to communicate through reciting memorised dialogue from Disney films in Roger Ross William’s inspirational case history. By the age of three Owen Suskind had withdrawn completely; no longer able to talk, with sleep and motor functions severely disrupted, his parents Ron and Cornelia were facing a future where Owen would be entirely dependent on others. Hope arrived in the most unlikely form when at age five he began to speak by way of quoting his beloved Disney characters. The film charts Owen’s transition in his early twenties towards independent living. Date: 25 Sept, 3.40pm
Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World (Dir: Werner Herzog) USA. Werner Herzog turns his singular brand of cultural analysis to what is perhaps the defining technological development of our age – the Internet – and finds it at best problematic. Structured as a ten-part essay, the director covers everything from hacking and web addiction to the unforeseen possibilities and dangers of an artificial intelligence that could ultimately eclipse its creators. Herzog’s philosophical approach to his material is, as ever, key to its success, his question (reminiscent of Philip K Dick) ‘does the internet dream of itself?’ being typical of his mode of inquiry in this playful and troubling film from a master of the documentary form. Date: 23 Sept, 8.45pm
The Lovers and The Despot (UK). The history of Hollywood is replete with bizarre tales, but for sheer strangeness few can match the one recounted in this gripping film that illuminates a dark chapter of Korean cinema lore. In 1978 North Korean dictator (and movie buff) Kim Jong-il kidnapped a famed South Korean celebrity couple – actress Choi Eun-hee and director Shin Sang-ok – hoping their star wattage would invigorate his burgeoning moviemaking empire. A seamless blend of interview, recreation and archival footage, the film features rare recordings of the dictator, secretly taped by the captive lovers. (subtitled) Date: 25 Sept, 8pm
A Family Affair (Dir: Tom Fassaert) Netherlands. A family portrait that doubles as investigation, director Tom Fassaert’s film is an attempt to untangled his family’s troubled history with its matriarch Marianne Hertz, an impeccably dressed ninety-five-year-old whose persona in front of her grandson’s camera switches from candid to evasive when he turns to areas she would prefer remained shrouded, namely the two-year period in the ‘40s when she put Tom’s father and uncle into an orphanage. This never discussed or resolved act has since caused the family to passively unravel under a burden of resentment, guilt and regret. (subtitled) Date: 25 Sept, 8pm
Who’s Gonna Love me Now? (Dir: Tomer & Barak Heymann) UK/Israel. Saar Moaz is an affable forty-year-old gay Israeli man living in London who sings regularly in the Gay Men’s Chorus; he’s also living with the burden of being HIV+ and the rejection he experienced at the hands of his conservative family who expelled him from their kibbutz many years ago on account of his sexual orientation. Saar may be living freely in London, but he yearns to reconnect with his estranged siblings; Tomer and Barak Heymann’s exceptionally moving film – a deserving Audience Award winner at Berlin – charts his journey home to confront the resentment and prejudices that saw him flee his homeland. (subtitled) Date: Sept 24, 6.40pm
The Music of Strangers: Yo Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble (Dir: Morgan Neville) USA. An eclectic group of gifted musicians from across the globe, The Silk Road Ensemble are in many respects the crowning achievement in the career of world-beating Chinese-American cellist Yo Yo Ma, whose questing musical spirit is given free reign as leader of the supergroup. Glorious concert footage abounds in Oscar winning director Morgan Neville’s (20 Feet From Stardom) profile of this gathering of close to fifty traditional musicians, among them Kayhan Kalhor, a kamancheh player from Iran, and Kinan Azmeh, a clarinettist from Syria, who speak movingly of the threats musicians face in their countries. Date: Sept 24, 4.30pm
Tower On 1st August 1966 engineering student Charles Whitmore ascended the main building observation tower in the University of Texas at Austin with a small arsenal in tow and proceeded to open fire on the student populace beneath him. Forty-nine people were shot and sixteen killed by the time he was apprehended by police. A forensic, moment-by-moment chronicle of the massacre, America’s first major school shooting, that draws on eye-witness testimony from survivors, Tower is also a formally daring hybrid that imaginatively blends cutting-edge rotoscoping animation with more traditional documentary techniques. Date: Sept 25, 4pm
The Land of the Enlightened (Dir: Pieter-Jan De Pue). This intriguing drama-documentary hybrid takes us on a cinematic odyssey into the heart of war-tormented Afghanistan. Shot over seven years, first-time director Pieter-Jan De Pue paints a whimsical yet haunting picture of the country at a time of flux. As American soldiers prepare to leave, De Pue burrows deep into a land where young boys form wild gangs to control trade routes and deal in explosives, drugs and precious stones – dreaming all the while of a brighter future. This transportative, meticulously-crafted film celebrates the visceral beauty of survival as it blends romance and harsh realism, serving as a testament to the unquenchable spirit of childhood and the extreme resilience of a people and country. (subtitled) Date: Sept 24, 2pm
Tickets: €10.50 (excluding opening film which includes post show reception (€15) and Blindboy presents The Rocky Road to Dublin (€12)
Special package: 5 films for €40. Available in person at the IFI box office only.
IFI Box office Tel: 01 679 3477 Online: www.ifi/docfest
In person: IFI 6 Eustace Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2.Join in the conversation: @IFI_Doc #IFIDocfest/