Programme announced for the IFI Documentary Festival  

The Irish Film Institute’s annual Documentary Festival returns from 27th September – 1st October and the full programme is available now. Across the five days of the festival, 13 features and a variety of Irish-made short films will be seen, and you can read through the full programme now HERE.

Today the Irish Film Institute (IFI) has announced the full line up for the IFI Documentary Festival which will run from 27 Sept – 1 Oct.  This always much anticipated festival annually presents an intriguing mix of screenings, panel discussions and public interviews to enjoy in person with select documentaries also available online on IFI@Home. Booking is open now at  

Speaking at the programme announcement, IFI Director Ross Keane said:

“Once again, the IFI Documentary Festival shines a spotlight on fascinating non-fiction films from right around the world. With docs being an integral part of the IFI’s year-round programme, the Festival offers us an additional opportunity to select some of the best documentaries which have been wowing both audiences and juries at key film festivals, often offering Irish cinema-goers the only chance to see these thought-provoking and captivating films on the big screen in Ireland”. 

​​​The festival is programmed by IFI Head of Cinema Programming David O’Mahony (international titles) and Sunniva O’Flynn (Irish features) and will include a number of world and Irish premieres.  

IFI Documentary Festival 2023 will open with the world premiere of an exploration into how five young boys went missing from the streets of Belfast and were never seen again, and why five decades on, the families still have no answers. From there, dive into five days of intriguing documentaries taking you on from the wartorn streets of Mariupol to the daily struggles of a community of sheep farmers on the Beara Peninsula. From a sanctuary for transgender women and cross-dressing men in 1950s/ 60s US, to the smoke saunas of Estonia where women gather to cleanse their bodies and their souls, explore all this festival has to offer at the home of Irish cinema, the IFI. 

The curated selection of documentaries in this will include: 

  • The world premiere of Lost Boys: Belfast’s Missing Children (Des Henderson) which explores how during the winter of 1969, young boys started to disappear from the streets of Belfast, never to be seen again. By 1974, five boys in total had vanished within a five-mile radius. Fifty years later, as the disappearances remain unsolved and families continue to search for answers.  
  • Fiona Hallinan’s Making Dust, about the demolition in 2021 of the Church of the Annunciation in Finglas (the second-largest Catholic Church in Ireland when it was built in 1967), structured around a deeply insightful essay by architectural historian Ellen Rowley. 
  • Sarah Share’s The Graceless Age – The Ballad of John Murry, which follows Murry’s journey from Ireland to his native Mississippi, from devastation to redemption. 
  • Sam Jones’s My Lost Russian Mother sees US citizen Gabe, returning to a remote Russian village in search of the mother he and his sister were taken from in childhood when they were adopted into America.  
  • The Irish premiere of Inna Sahakyan’s Aurora’s Sunrise follows 14-year-old Aurora who lost everything during the horror of the Armenian genocide of 1915. Two years later, she escaped to New York, where her story became a media sensation. With a blend of evocative animation, and interviews with Aurora herself, a forgotten story of survival is revived. 
  • Another Irish premiere, Jeanie Finlay’s Your Fat Friend, where Finlay follows Aubrey Gordon over a 6-year period, from anonymous blogger to best-selling author and co-host of the Maintenance Phase podcast.  
  • Crows are White Ahsen Nadeem’s disarming personal documentary who was raised Muslim in Saudi Arabia and came to live in the heart of Cavan at age 10, finds himself so conflicted about his religious upbringing, and the disappointment he anticipates from his parents when he tells them his plans to marry a non-Muslim woman. 
  • Riders on the Storm (Jason Motlagh & Mark Oltmanns) captures a pivotal moment in Afghan history and offers a rare and visceral look at a ruthless sports culture where champions become marked men. Irish premiere. 
  • In the Shadow of Beirut (Stephen Gerard Kelly & Garry Keane). From the makers of GAZA, a new cinematic odyssey, penetrating deep below the surface of Beirut, weaving together the stories of four characters struggling to survive with dignity and decency amidst unimaginable hardship.  
  • Hungry Hill (Mieke Vanmechelen & Michael Holly) follows the daily struggles of a community of sheep farmers as they negotiate the mountainous terrain of the Beara Peninsula.  
  • Casa Susanna (Sébastien Lifshitz) In the 1950s and ‘60s, an underground network of transgender women and cross-dressing men found refuge at a modest house in the Catskills which provided a safe space for them to express their true selves. This Irish Premiere is told through the memories of those whose visits to the house would change their lives. 
  • Smoke Sauna Sisterhood (Anna HintsFilmed over 5 years in Estonia’s traditional smoke sauna, inscribed in UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage, an intimate space where women gather to not just cleanse their bodies, but also their souls.  
  • The Irish Premiere of 20 Days in Mariupol (Mstyslav Chernov) in which a team of Ukrainian journalists trapped in the besieged city of Mariupol struggle to continue their work recording atrocities of the Russian invasion. As the only international reporters who remain in the city, they capture what later became defining images of the war.  

Multi-film bundles are available from the IFI, providing 3 films for €30; 5 films for €50 or full 5-day festival pass for €110.

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