August 25th 2021: The Irish Film Institute (IFI) is delighted to announce the programme for the IFI Documentary Festival 2021. This year, the festival will take place both at the IFI in Temple Bar and online, nationwide on IFI@Home, September 20 – 26th. Tickets for cinema screenings are now available from, with online rentals available to pre-order from

The festival will open on Monday 20th with a cinema-only screening of Ross Killeen’s Love Yourself Today, a celebratory return to the communal experience of cinema, depicting Dublin’s own Damien Dempsey and the spiritual power of his music. The festival will close on Sunday 26th with IFTA-winning Breaking Out: The Remarkable Story of Fergus O’Farrell from director-producer Michael McCormack, which tells the profoundly moving story of a seminal figure in the Irish music scene.

Speaking about this year’s hybrid festival, IFI Head of Irish Film Programming Sunniva O’Flynn said, ‘This year’s programme reminds us of the tenacity and determination of documentary filmmakers to bring the stories they feel so passionately about to the screen – a feat that is always impressive but never more so than in the throes of a pandemic.  This year’s programme includes a pleasingly diverse range of films: inspiring personal portraits that show people surviving and triumphing over hefty odds; social-justice films, where the issues are humanised by remarkable campaigners; music documentaries that are guaranteed to engage fans and not-yet fans of the subjects; and celebratory works that simply bask in the inherent kindness of people. The films may delight, illuminate, entertain or enrage but all should stimulate the kind of heated online and offline debate that is the trademark of a successful documentary festival.

Other Irish titles screening as part of this year’s online and in-cinema programme include winner of Best Irish Documentary at the 33rd Galway Film Fleadh, Pure Grit. Kim Bartley’s tale of grit and determination is paired with intimacy and vulnerability in this depiction of an indigenous horse racer in Northern Wyoming. Also looking toward the US is Mary Sue Connolly’s Overdosed, the new documentary on the American opioid crisis, looking at the town of Petersburg in rural West Virginia.

Closer to home, Alex Fegan’s The Irish Wedding celebrates a diverse community of brides and grooms across the country, looking at what it means to love, and what it means to be Irish. The enduring power of love shines through in Susan Thomson’s Ghost Empire § Belize, which observes the constitutional challenge taken by Caleb Orozco in Belize against Section 53, a 19th century British colonial law restricting LGBTQ+ rights across the Caribbean country. Both titles enjoy their world premiere screenings at this year’s festival.

A diverse variety of international documentaries are on offer in this year’s programme, showcasing films from Jordan, Armenia, Zimbabwe and beyond. Bringing energy to the programme of music-filled documentaries, Anita Rivaroli’s We Are The Thousand follows a passionate Foo Fighters fan whose goal is to bring the band to his hometown in Cesena, Italy. Dreams are followed relentlessly by two best friends living in the Za’atari Syrian Refugee Camp in Captains of Za’atari; a Q&A with Egyptian director Ali El Arabi accompanies the film screening on IFI@Home.

Togetherness remains at the forefront of the narrative in Armenian American director Garin K Hovannisian’s I Am Not Alone, the story of the 2018 Armenian revolution, following politician and activist Nikol Pashinyan’s vision, as the country erupts into determined action and creative protest. Camilla Nielsson’s President observes the crossroads of the 2018 Zimbabwe election, looking at the pivotal moment for the country, and for democracy across the globe. IFI@Home rentals for both of these Irish premieres include director Q&As.

Corruption and the fight against it is central to the story of Writing with Fire, set in Uttar Pradesh, an area of India notorious for its violence against women, and the oppression of minorities. The documentary dives into the work of Khabar Lahariya, India’s only news agency run by Dalit women, and is presented alongside an online Q&A with directors Sushmit Ghosh and Rintu Thomas. Theo Anthony’s All Light, Everywhere explores the fraught relationship between cameras and weaponry in contexts of corruption and surveillance from the early days of cinemtography to the present day, looking at the relationship between photography and violence.

Mr Bachmann and His Class is a heartwarming tale of inspiration and education from director Maria Speth, presenting Herr Bachmann, a 64-year-old teacher teaching a class of teenagers from a range of immigrant backgrounds in a small town in the Hesse region of Germany. This Irish premiere screening portrays 217 minutes of Bachmann and his students, with children from Turkish, Romanian, Bulgarian and Sardinian families, all empowered as individuals but working together as a community.

Art documentaries that challenge expectations include Wojnarowicz: F**k You F*ggot F**ker, the unashamedly queer portrait of the New York City artist, writer, photographer and activist David Wojnarowicz, and The Saviour for Sale: The Story of the Salvator Mundi, a quest to uncover the truth behind a da Vinci that sold for an astonishing 450 million dollars. Both titles are accompanied by director Q&As, with Chris McKim and Antoine Vitkine respectively, on IFI@Home. The Story of Film: A New Generation is Mark Cousins’s latest look at film as an art form, and what emerging styles and platforms mean for the next generation of filmmakers, looking at world cinema, the digital age, and the future of streaming and cinema.

Finally, this year’s shorts programme offers selection of Irish works, in-cinema and online on IFI@Home, embracing alternative modes of filmmaking, with films from Garret Daly, Hannah Currie, Sheena Walsh, Ama Addo, Cian O’Connor, Eavan Aiken, and Fergus Daly.

Tickets for in-cinema screenings are available online from Individual screening tickets are €11.50 for IFI members and €13 for non-members.

Online screenings cost €7.50 each for a three-day rental, aside from the closing film Breaking Outat €9.99, with a one day rental window. All online films are available to pre-order now online. See for more details, and for information on the online festival bundle.

The IFI acknowledges the financial support of the Arts Council. The IFI Documentary Festival is supported by RTÉ Supporting the Arts.
ALL LIGHT, EVERYWHERE – 20.30 (IFI), 18.00 (IFI@Home)

MR BACHMANN AND HIS CLASS – 18.30 (IFI), 18.00 (IFI@Home)

OVERDOSED – 18.30 (IFI), 12.00 (IFI@Home)
PRESIDENT – 20.30 (IFI), 18.00 (IFI@Home)

CAPTAINS OF ZA’ATARI – 18.30 (IFI), 12.00 (IFI@Home)
GHOST EMPIRE § BELIZE – 20.30 (IFI), 18.00 (IFI@Home)

WOJNAROWICZ: F–K YOU, F-GGOT F–KER – 18.10 (IFI), 12.00 (IFI@Home)
PURE GRIT – 20.40 (IFI), 18.00 (IFI@Home)

SHORTS PROGRAMME – 13.00 (IFI), 12.00 (IFI@Home)
I AM NOT ALONE – 15.30 (IFI), 12.00 (IFI@Home) 
WE ARE THE THOUSAND – 21.00 (IFI), 18.00 (IFI@Home)

WRITING WITH FIRE – 13.10 (IFI), 12.00 (IFI@Home)
THE IRISH WEDDING – 15.30 (IFI), 12.00 (IFI@Home)
THE SAVIOUR FOR SALE – 17.40 (IFI), 12.00 (IFI@Home)
BREAKING OUT – IFI (20.00), 18.00 (IFI@Home: all viewings must be completed by Monday 27th)

The IFI is supported
by The Arts Council

Arts Council of Ireland