Docs Ireland returns with eclectic selection of factual films including New Lodge-centred The Flats

Docs Ireland 2024 has just launched its programme - we take a look at what’s on offer

The cast of The Flats mark the launch of Docs Ireland 2024
The Flats will be the opening film at this year's Docs Ireland festival (Jim Corr Photography/Jim Corr Photography)

This year’s Docs Ireland festival will run from June 18 to 23, and includes everything from documentaries on Belfast’s New Lodge flats and Palestinian activist Basel Adra to the latest fly-on-the-wall film about Britpop veterans Blur.

Docs Ireland 2024 opens with Alessandra Celesia’s award-winning New Lodge documentary The Flats, while the closing film this year, No Other Land, follows Palestinian activist Basel Adra resisting the forced displacement of his people in Masafer Yatta in the West Bank.

No Other Land follows Palestinian activist Basel Adra
No Other Land follows Palestinian activist Basel Adra

A screening of Roisin Agnew’s The Ban, which explores the practice of dubbing the voices of IRA leaders on news broadcasts during the Troubles, will be followed by a panel discussion. A discussion will also follow The Black and The Green by St Clair Bourne, who followed five US civil rights activists on a fact-finding trip to Belfast in the 1980s.

There will be an In Conversation event with this year’s special guest Asif Kapadia (Senna, Amy, Diego Maradona), the Oscar-winning documentarian who will be presented with the Docs Ireland International Award for Outstanding Contribution to Documentary.

Award-winning filmmaker Asif Kapadia
Award-winning filmmaker Asif Kapadia

On June 21, Women Folk will be an evening at Rosemary St Church to celebrate women in traditional Irish music, featuring singing from Róis, Catriona Gribben and Stephanie Makem, great-granddaughter of Sarah Makem, the renowned traditional source singer and subject of David Hammond’s film which will also be screened at the event.

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Docs Ireland will honour the work and life of this pioneering broadcaster, documentary filmmaker and musician with an award for Outstanding Contribution to Irish Documentary, showcasing some of Hammond’s most iconic documentary shorts including Dusty Bluebells and The Magic Fiddle.

The Third Dimension will celebrate 3D film-making with two screenings of classic documentaries being shown in 3D for the first time in Ireland, Werner Herzog’s The Cave of Forgotten Dreams and Wim Wenders’ Pina.

Blur: To The End
Blur: To The End

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 Newry-bred thrash metal band Gama Bomb.

The annual Pull Focus competition celebrating excellence in Irish documentary also returns, with a line-up including Alan Gilsenan’s IFTA-winning The Days of Trees, Andrew Gallimore’s One Night on Millstreet, Don’t Forget To Remember by Ross Killeen and Burkitt by filmmaker Éanna Mac Cana.

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, Katherine Waugh and Fergus Daly’s I See a Darkness explores the historical relationship between photography, Neasa Ni Chianáin’s The Alexander Complex unravels the bizarre tale of a group of ‘gentlemanly explorers’, and a historic fraud case collides with immediate mortality in Colm Quinn’s Ransom 79.

Entries for this year’s Maysles Brothers Competition for Observational Documentary include Union, which follows the Amazon Labour Union as they take on one of the biggest corporations in the world, On The Adamant, which explores the day-to-day life of a floating asylum, and Bhutanese documentary Agents of Happiness, focused on the daily lives of communities in the Himalayas. Hollywoodgate follows the Taliban in the immediate aftermath of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, while Flying Hands examines the stigma of disability in a mountain region of Pakistan.

This year’s Focus on Palestine segment features films, seminars and discussions which are all fundraisers for Medical Aid Palestine, while The Focus on Finland brings three documentaries directed by women to the forefront: modern fairytale Once Upon A Time In A Forest by Virpi Suutari, Sámi director Suvi West’s Máhccan/Homecoming examining the Sámi people’s stolen heritage, and master documentarian Pirjo Honkasalo’s Melancholian 3 Huonetta/Three Rooms of Melancholia, centred on the Chechen conflict.

Elsewhere in the programme, The Zone segment will include a lecture from filmmaker Simon Aeppli, plus screenings of Operation Bogeyman: The Folk Horror Landscape of 1970s Ireland, existential musing on the history of the doorbell Home Invasion and Man Ray: Return To Reason, which pairs the early films of Man Ray with a new soundtrack from Jim Jarmusch, and Back Translation by Irish artists collective Aemi.

The festival’s regular short film strand also returns, along with its Marketplace event, which offers two days of opportunities for filmmakers to meet with leading players from the international documentary industry.

Speaking at the festival launch event in Belfast on May 16, Docs Ireland director Michele Devlin 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.

Michele Devlin
Michele Devlin

“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.”

For full programme information and tickets (on sale from 11am today), visit docsireland.ie.