Irish Film Institute -IFI STRANGER THAN FICTION 2013


IFI Press Release: 15th August 2013

IFI Stranger Than Fiction, Documentary Film Festival, returns on the 26th-29thSeptember 2013

IFI Stranger Than Fiction 2013 brings a fantastic programme of new documentary film to Dublin for a 4-day Festival that includes 11 new feature films, with a host of Irish, world and Dublin premieres, a brilliant line-up of guest filmmakers and special guests, two short film selections and, in a new partnership with the Irish Film Board/Bord Scannán na hÉireann, a series of documentary discussions workshops and masterclasses. Now in its 10th incarnation, the IFI Stranger Than Fiction Festival ( continues to challenge, inform, amaze and inspire.

Festival Programmer Ross Whitaker said, ‘I’m delighted to be welcoming some of the best International and Irish documentaries to IFI Stranger Than Fiction Documentary Festival this year. It’s exciting to be holding so many premieres and to be providing what might be in some cases a unique opportunity for cinema loving audiences to see some brilliant documentaries. I’m particularly delighted that so many of the filmmakers, both from Ireland and around the world, will be our guests at the IFI to discuss and contextualise their own work with our audiences’

The Festival opens with a Gala Screening of The Great Hip Hop Hoax that examines the story of ultra-hip Californian rap duo Silibil ‘n’ Brains. Tipped to take the music world by storm, their street cred dramatically imploded when it was revealed that rather than being from LA they were actually Scottish rap hopefuls Billy and Gavin. This is a story of a hoax of astonishing audacity and the lengths people will go to get their break, yet also an ultimately moving film about the reality of living a lie. Director an emerging documentary star Jeanie Finlay (Sound it Out) will attend and take part in a post-show Q+A.

Women’s stories and rights form a key strand of this year’s programme, perhaps unsurprisingly considering more than half of the films in this year’s festival have a female director. One of Britain’s best filmmakers, Kim Longinotto’s new film Salma follows the eponymous Tamil poet as she returns to her village and courageously tells the story of her incarceration at the hands of her parents as a child before being given up to an oppressive arranged marriage.

Fiercely topical for Irish audiences, After Tiller sensitively follows and observes the only four surviving doctors who provide late-term abortions in the U.S after the assassination of Dr. George Tiller in 2009. Filmmakers Martha Shane and Lana Wilson encourage the audience to make up their own minds on this provocative issue but challenge them not to judge. The film will be followed by a Q&A with one of the films subjects Dr. Shelley Sella.

On July 25th 2013 a pickup van rammed into the gate of Orbe prison in Switzerland and kept prison guards at bay with rounds from AK-47s, allowing the escape of Milan Poparic one of the notoriously audacious Pink Panther gang of jewel thieves. Havana Marking (director of 2009’s Afghan Star) will attend the festival to present her new work Smash & Grab which tells the Pink Panther gang’s story using extraordinary inside access to the former-Yugoslav crime syndicate that has responsible for perhaps $500 million of thefts across the world.

Closing the Festival, Dragon Girls tells another unique female story, though this time from a male cinematographer-turned-director Inigo Westmeier, who tells the story of three Chinese girls studying at the 30,000 strong Shaolin Tagou Kung Fu School. Winner of Best International Documentary at Toronto’s prestigious Hot Docs Festival, the film captures both the spectacular setting and gruelling nature of the girl’s studies. Westmeier will attend the Festival and take part in a post-show Q+A.

There’s a strong Irish strand in this year’s IFI Stranger Than Fiction, reflecting the ever-increasing strength of domestic documentary scene. John Murray and Emer Reynolds’ will take part in a Q+A after their film Here Was Cuba, which tells the story of the Cuban Missile Crisis as a feature length doc for the first time and finds the personal stories in the midst of the political pressure cooker. Gerry Gregg’s Close to Evil focuses even more intently on a personal thread weaving through the canvas of history as it follows Holocaust survivor Tomi Reichental’s journey to Germany to try to meet the 91-year-old woman who once kept him prisoner as a 9-year-old at Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp. Both Gregg and Reichental will be present for a post-show Q+A.

After the hip-hop beats of the Opening Night film fade there’s plenty more music docs to keep those looking for a bit more ear candy happy, both from the Irish and international selection. There’s a World Premiere of Isolda Heavey’s Where The Blue Flowers Grow which tells the story of Wicklow hard folk band The Cujo Family (who’ll be there to kick up an acoustic storm in the IFI Foyer before the film). Tradition and change come together in Dónal Ó’ Céilleachair’s Sean-nós documentary Aisling Gheal that follows a new generation, including 10 year-old Shahira Apraku, redefining ‘Irishness’ through language and music on the banks of the Sullane river.

Greg ‘Freddy’ Camalier’s Muscle Shoals asks the questions, why did this tiny Alabama town become the centre of an R’n’B movement in the 1960s with the likes of Aretha Franklin swinging into town to be backed up by local session players the “Swampers”? Featuring interviews from Mick Jagger, Alicia Keys and Candi Staton it’s a guide to magical time and place in American music.

Perhaps the hardest film in the Festival to categorise, Leviathan is also one of the most hotly-anticipated. Winner of the prestigious Michael Powell Award for Best Feature at the Edinburgh Film Festival, this immersive, hallucinatory exploration of an old Atlantic fishing trawler at work is a masterful assault on the senses that will leave no viewer unaffected.

One of Denmark’s most celebrated and provocative documentarians, Jon Bang Carlsen has for decades explored and subverted documentary form to present staged realities. Carlsen will attend a special archive presentation of two of his short films It’s Now or Never and How to Invent Reality demonstrating the scale and invention of his work.

The Festival features two selections of short films, the first curated from Irish and International submissions in collaboration with dynamic short film promoters Eat My Shorts and the second being the Irish Film Board’s Reality Bites World Premiere Event that showcases the films made under this important scheme for emerging documentary filmmakers who’ll then discuss their films in a panel Q+A.

The IFI is collaborating with the Irish Film Board in presenting a series of special events:How to Connect with Modern Audiences (featuring Festival Guest Jeanie Finlay) and Building and Internatonal Documentary Company (featuring Festival Guest Havana Marking);Creating with Archive that looks how to utilise resources such as the IFI Irish Film Archive and Breaking into Documentary that looks at how a filmmaker takes their first steps in a documentary career.

Tickets are on sale NOW at the IFI Box Office on 01 679 3477 or online at You can find out more about all the films and events in IFI Stranger than Fiction on

For more media information, images and interview requests Patrick Stewart at the IFI Press Office on 01 679 5744.

Guest interview opportunities (by appointment with the IFI Press Office)

Jeanie Finlay – Director of The Great Hip Hop Hoa, and participant in How to Connect with Modern Audiences

Havana Marking –Director of Smash and Grab about the Pink Panther Crime Syndicate and participant in Building and Internatonal Documentary Company

Inigo Westmeier – Director of Dragon Girls, winner of Best International Film at Hot Docs FestivalDr. Shelly Sella – U.S Obstetrician/Gynaelcologist. Featured in After Tiller

Isolda Heavy – First-time Irish Director of Where the Blue Flowers Grow

Dónal Ó Céilleachar – Director of Sean-nós documentary Aisling Gheal

John Murray and Emer Reynolds – Directors of Here Was Cuba

Gerry Gregg – Director of Close to Evil

Tomi Reichental – Holocaust Survivor. Featured in Close to Evil

IFI Stranger than Fiction Festival Timetable

Thursday 26thSept

8pm Gala Opening Night: The Great Hip Hop Hoax (Irish Premiere) + Q&A with Jeanie Finlay

Friday 27thSept

6.30pm Salma

8.40pm Smash and Grab + Q+A with Havana Marking

Saturday 28thSept

2pm Eat My Shorts Short Film Programme

4pm After Tiller (Irish Premiere) + Panel Discussion

6pm Irish Film Board Reality Bites World Premiere Event + panel Q&A with featured filmmakers

7.30pm Where the Blue Flowers Grow (World Premiere)

8pm Muscle Shoals (Irish Premiere)

Sunday 29thSeptember

1.30pm Close to Evil (Dublin Premiere) + Q&A with Gerry Gregg & Tomi Reichental

2pm Jon Bang Carlsen Archive Programme + Q&A with John Bang Carlsen

4pm Aisling Gheal (Dublin Premiere) + Q&A with Dónal Ó Céilleachair

6pm Leviathan (Irish Premiere)

6.15pm Here Was Cuba (Dublin Premiere) + Q&A with John Murray and Emer Reynolds

8pm Dragon Girls + Q&A with Inigo Westmeier

Tickets are on sale NOW at the IFI Box Office on 01 679 3477 or online at You can find out more about all the films and events in IFI Stranger than Fiction on the website.

IFI Stranger Than Fiction is proudly supported by Irish Film Board/Bord Scannán na hÉireann, Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, Goethe Institut, the Danish Embassy Dublin, Phantom 105.2 and The Sunday Times

The IFI acknowledges the financial support of the Arts Council.





The IFI is supported
by The Arts Council

Arts Council of Ireland