Dee O’Donoghue reports from this year’s Dublin Doc Festival and takes a look at the top three short documentaries.
Now in it’s 3rd year, the Dublin Doc Festival was recently held in the historic and resplendent setting of The O’Connell Room at The Irish Georgian Society. Providing a unique platform for both Irish and International documentary filmmakers, the event aims to showcase short documentary films and highlight Dublin as an international destination for documentary film. This year’s festival attracted over eighty entrants, with seven films shortlisted and curated around the theme of interior/exterior and mindscape versus landscape. The selection of documentaries blend an idiosyncratic exploration of the festival’s themes with more traditional conventions of documentary filmmaking, probing challenging and existential questions of the past, present and future. The seven shortlisted documentary films included:
‘Fathom’ by Pat Collins and Sharon Whooley
‘Bloody Good Headline’ by Paul Quinn and Tom Burke
‘Bo’ by Oisín Bickley
‘Gordie’ by Traolach Ó Murchú
‘Love and Other Drags’ by Ryan Ralph
‘Anónimo’ by Moises Anaya
‘The Last Days of Peter Bergmann’ by Ciaran Cassidy
The above films engage with diverse aspects of individualism, marginalisation, alienation and difference, including; a day in the life of a newspaper seller, the isolating yet hypnotic life around South West Cork’s Fastnet Lighthouse, a homeless man negotiating life on the threatening city streets, the career ambitions of an aspiring drag queen, a Tinglit man’s struggle to comprehend a childhood trauma, the mysterious last days of a foreigner in Sligo and a unique insight into life on the land for a West Cork dairy farmer.
This year’s top three short documentaries executed the festival’s themes through a visual and thought-provoking exploration of its subjects and subjectivity, elevating the everyday ordinary to the wondrous extraordinary.
Bloody Good Headline directed by Paul Quinn and Tom Burke
Opening the festival, Bloody Good Headline explores the anonymous identities behind some of Dublin’s rush-hour newspaper sellers, inviting the audience to see, hear and identify with the dehumanized figures that blend into the capital’s cityscape. The film goes behind the people holding the headlines, the purveyors of bad news, to portray the physical endurance and psychological effect of an occupation where one person’s misfortune is another’s financial gain. The film provides a fascinating insight into the socio-economic circumstances of the newspaper sellers who navigate demanding and demeaning everyday situations for very little economic reward.
Gordie by Traolach Ó Murchú
Gordie is a powerful story about a drug addict and alcoholic Tlingit man, who narrates his own account of a childhood trauma that haunts him to this day. Recalling his kidnap and subsequent gang rape against the backdrop of a bleak and hostile landscape, Gordie’s jagged narration and haunting tone pieces together elements of this disturbing event, the memory of his trauma blurred and incomplete, leaving the story open to audience interpretation.
The Last Days of Peter Bergmann directed by Ciaran Cassidy
Closing the festival on a note of intrigue, The Last Days of Peter Bergmann explores the mysterious final days of a foreigner, who arrived into Sligo town under an assumed identity and whose methodical daily routine over the course of three days comes under scrutiny when a body is washed up on Rosses Point beach. Going to great lengths to conceal his true identity and dispose of his personal possessions, the beautifully-paced film recreates puzzling events in the traditional style of documentary filmmaking, with eye witness accounts attempting to piece together the baffling and saddening fate of this unknown man.
The third Dublin Doc Fest took place on Saturday, 28th February 2015 at 7pm in The Irish Georgian Society, City Assembly House, 58 South William Street, Dublin.
Read an interview with Festival Director Tess Motherway here