The programme for the 2017 IFI Documentary Festival has been announced. One of the IFI’s flagship festivals, the festival will run over five days this year from September 27th to October 1st. The festival will showcase the finest original international documentary films alongside Irish documentary-makers with 16 feature length documentaries, seven Irish premieres, and the world premiere of Kevin Roche: The Quiet Architect.

Speaking at the programme’s launch, Head of Cinema Programming at the IFI, David O’Mahony said: “This year’s IFI Documentary Festival programme highlights the exceptional quality of modern documentary filmmaking across the world. It’s fitting and appropriate that so many of this year’s films examine the pressing social issues affecting people globally, on both a micro and a macro scale. We’re proud to welcome so many special guests to the festival this year, and we’re delighted that audiences will have the opportunity to engage with these extremely talented filmmakers.”

Among the many highlights this year will be the opening film, Nothingwood, a rousing tribute to the Ed Wood of Afghan filmmaking. Sonia Kronlund’s delightful feature follows the gonzo efforts of Afghan actor/producer/director Salim Shaheen and his ramshackle repertory group as they embark upon the auteur’s 110th no-budget action feature, leading the increasingly anxious Kronlund deep into the Taliban-controlled territory.

The festival will close with the world premiere of Kevin Roche: The Quiet Architect, a profile of the Pritzker Prize-winning Irish-American architect. Although Roche has reached the top of his profession, he has not sought fame, and little is known about him here. He is best known in Ireland as the architect of Dublin’s Convention Centre.

As always, the Festival features a strong programme of international stories with films from USA, Mexico, UK, the Gambia, Lithuania, the Phillippines, Italy, the Republic of Congo and Cambodia. They include: Motherland a fly-on-the-wall portrait of the Jose Fabella Hospital in Manila, the world’s busiest maternity hospital; and Makala, a profoundly moving, experiential film, and deserved winner of Best Film at Cannes Film Festival’s Critics Week 2017.

A number of Irish-produced features also have a distinctly international flavour: winner of the Best International Feature at Toronto Hot Docs 2017, A Cambodian Spring, tells the story of three people caught up in the chaotic events shaping modern-day Cambodia; Jaha’s Promise, in which Jaha Dukureh returns home from the US to the Gambia to lead a campaign against female genital mutilation (FGM); and Butterfly City, which features the young Lithuanian town of Visaginas, now under threat following the decommissioning of its nuclear power plant.

Documentary film can illuminate the complex nature of migration and immigration through the power of human stories. In The Good Postman, Ivan, mayoral candidate in a scenic yet economically depressed Bulgarian village, sees the welcoming of refugees as their best chance for rejuvenation. In Elián, directors Tim Golden and Ross McDonnell recount the story of a 5-year-old Cuban boy who became the centre of a political firestorm following his rescue from a sinking boat off the coast of Mexico. Grand Jury Prize nominee at this year’s Sundance Festival Whose Streets? captures the escalating situation in Ferguson, Missouri following the shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown by police in 2014; the event triggered mass demonstrations and rioting and became a flashpoint for the Black Lives Matter movement.

For documentaries that not only entertain but also enrich your understanding of art and culture there is Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World, honouring the substantial contribution of Native American musicians; Spettacolo, which focusses on the amateur theatre group of Monticchiello, a tiny hilltop village in Tuscany which has staged original productions themselves for over fifty years; and Audience Award and Grand Jury Award winner at this year’s L.A. Outfest, Chavela, which examines the life of trouser-wearing ranchero-music-singing Chavela Vargas as she revolutionised Mexican traditional singing in the 1950s whilst challenging hetero-cultural norms in the process.

Home-grown talent is well and truly on the rise, with Rocky Ros Muc, a profile of Seán Mannion, a talented boxer from the quiet Gaeltacht village of Ros Muc, Co Galway, who left Ireland for Boston in the 1970s and rose to the heights of New York’s Madison Square Garden’s; Loving Lorna, a tender coming-of-age story of a fiercely capable and determined young woman who has heart set on becoming a farrier, a traditionally male preserve; It Tolls For Thee, a remarkable portrait of Irish unsung heroine Mary Elmes who saved hundreds of children from the horrors of the Spanish Civil War and World War II.

Our Irish shorts programme this year features Mia Mullarkey’s Throwline; Deirdre O’Toole’s Faraway Land; Mairéad Ní Thréinir’s Tit for Tatt; Mike Hannon’s The Cloud of Unknowing; Bob Gallagher’s The Impossible Flight of the Stone; Maurice Gunning’s Sekar Arum; and Kristin Vollset’s No Plan. There will be an Audience Award for Best Short supported by Bord Scannán na hÉireann/Irish Film Board. Screenscene will this year sponsor the Audience Award for Best Irish Short.

Special guests expected to attend the festival include Mark Noonan and John Flahive who will attend the world premiere of their new film Kevin Roche: the Quiet Architect. Other guests include Olga Černovaitė and Jeremiah Cullinane for Butterfly City, Ramona S Diaz for Motherland, Michael Fanning and Máire Bhreathnach for Rocky Ros Muc, Chris Kelly for A Cambodian Spring, and Patrick Farrelly, Kate O’Callaghan, and Jaha Dukureh for Jaha’s Promise.

Tickets for the IFI Documentary Festival are now on sale. Individual screening tickets are €11, excluding the opening film which includes post show reception (€15). A special ticket package is available in person only from the IFI Box Office: 5 films for €45.

Tickets available online from, the IFI Box office at 6 Eustace Street, Dublin 2, and over the phone at 01 679 3477


Sept 27th  NOTHINGWOOD (20.20)


Sept 28th  THE GOOD POSTMAN  (20.30)

Sept 29th  WHOSE STREETS? (18.30)

Sept 29th  CHAVELA  (20.30)

Sept 30th  IRISH SHORTS PROGRAMME  (12.30)

Sept 30th  BUTTERFLY CITY + Q&A  (13.00)

Sept 30th  MOTHERLAND + Q&A  (15.15)

Sept 30th  ROCKY ROS MUC + Q&A (16.00)

Sept 30th  JAHA’S PROMISE + Q&A  (18.10)


Oct 1st      IT TOLLS FOR THEE  (13.00)

Oct 1st      MAKALA   (13.20)

Oct 1st      SPETTACOLO (15 .00)

Oct 1st      A CAMBODIAN SPRING + Q&A  (15.30)

Oct 1st      ELIÁN + Q&A   (17.10)


In person: IFI 6 Eustace Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2.

Join in the conversation: @IFI_Dub #IFIDocfest

The IFI acknowledges the financial support of the Arts Council.

For more information on interview availability and high-res images, please contact Michelle McDonagh at the IFI Press Office (01 679 5744 or

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Arts Council of Ireland