Talking Movies

August 15, 2012

Stranger than Fiction @ the IFI

Stranger Than Fiction, the IFI’s documentary film festival returns from 16th to the 19th of August showcasing the best new Irish and international factual cinema.

Stranger Than Fiction has been programmed for the first time by documentary filmmaker and Commissioning Editor of Film Ireland Ross Whitaker who has tracked down a fantastic range of true-to-life stories; from an an intimate portrait of one of the world’s most famous photographers, via a chronicle of the death of the once-great Detroit and a moving record of one Palestinian village’s heroic resistance to oppression, to the story of an Irish boxing champion of the nineteenth century turned actor narrated by boxer turned actor Liam Neeson.Whitaker says “These films will move, shock and inspire you. They will inform you and, in some cases, change the way you think about the world. The truth, they say is stranger than fiction and I think the films on show prove that the best documentaries can be more powerful than any drama.’’

Selected as this year’s opening film, The Imposter is the bizarre tale of a missing Texas teenager who is ‘found’ after three years, in Spain, claiming he was kidnapped. The family are so relieved to have him home they overlook the boy’s European accent, new hair colour and physical changes… But when the FBI start investigating the boy’s kidnapping the murky tale takes an even stranger turn. The Interrupters is Steve (Hoop Dreams) James’ acclaimed story of the Violence Interrupters, ex-Chicago gang members who seek atonement for their past by directly intervening in violent confrontations. It’s a story of heroism which doesn’t shy away from the thankless nature of the task. The troubles of another mid-west city, Detroit, come into focus with Detropia. Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady’s fascinating portrait of the city shows that the decline of the automobile industry and the demographic shifts, so skilfully portrayed in Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex, have left a city of dreams hovering on the verge of oblivion. Similarly Penny Woolcock’s One Mile Away, sees teenage rap as the only creative spark left in a post-industrial gang-infested Birmingham suffering an epidemic of gun crime.

This year’s festival features two Irish films and two Irish co-productions. Andrew Gallimore’s The Gentleman Prizefighter tells the story of Irish-American heavyweight champion Jim Corbett, remembered for defeating the great Jim Sullivan and turning to film acting after hanging up his gloves. Paul Duane follows up his recent success with his Barbaric Genius portrayal of notorious chess player John Healy with Very Extremely Dangerous, the story of Jerry McGill a terminally-ill former rocker turned bank-robber who, aged 70, returns to the recording studio to make up for lost time. Irish/Dutch co-production Anton CorbijnInside Outprofiles the Dutch photographer and filmmaker largely responsible for the visual style of U2. He also worked extensively with Depeche Mode and Joy Division, before recently moving into film directing with impressive results: Control and The American. This documentary illuminates his life and working methods.

Two films about the Middle East demonstrate the powerful immediacy with which film can capture conflict and political unrest. Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi’s eponymous 5 Broken Cameras met their end while Emad was filming his Palestinian village of Bil’in’s struggle for survival. Sean McAllister’s Reluctant Revolutionary (an Irish/UK co-production) is an intimate portrait of a Yemeni tour guide’s conversion from sceptic to revolutionary during the Arab Spring. From South Korea comes Planet of Snail, a life-affirming observational documentary of a young disabled couple who radiate love and affection – deaf-blind poet Young Chan and Soon-Ho, whose own spinal disability means she’s barely taller than his waist. A big hit on the festival circuit and the Winner of Best Documentary Feature at the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam, Planet of Snail is sure to be one of the weekend’s highlights.

IFI Stranger Than Fiction Schedule

The Imposter

August 16th (19.00)

IFI Afternoon Talk:

Documentary Discussionwith Ross Whitaker and Guests

August 17th (14.00)

5 Broken Cameras

August 17th (18.30)

One Mile Away

August 17th (20.30)

The Gentleman Prizefighter

August 18th (13.20)

Reluctant Revolutionary

August 18th (15.30)

Very Extremely Dangerous

August 18th (17.30)

Anton Corbijn Inside Out

August 18th (20.00)

The Interrupters

August 19th (14.00)

Planet of Snail

August 19th (16.20)


August 19th (19.00)

Tickets are available from the IFI Box Office on 01 679 3477 and online at

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