American film directors and producers are headed across the Atlantic this week from places as far apart as Arizona, Illinois, New York and California to the tiny Gaeltacht village of Gortahork in the heart of rustic, rural west Donegal.
And the sleepy little hamlet will waken this weekend to the babble of foreign accents and a plethora of multinational movies focusing on subjects as diverse and esoteric as sperm donors, vodka factories, world championship Irish dancing and disappearing islands.
Guth Gafa (Captive Voices), now in its 6th successful year, is an international film festival – the only one in Ireland devoted exclusively to documentaries - that will capture industry attention as master movie-makers from countries such as Paraguay, Mexico, Canada, Romania, Holland, Switzerland and Sweden gather for screenings and master classes in film techniques.
“We have five full days of screenings, interactive debates and formal classes with people from across the globe, as well as a special climate action day and the equivalent of ten thousand dollars in assistance to student film-makers,” said David Rane, who launched the annual festival with his partner Neasa Ni Chianain.“ The festival runs from June 10 to 14 and further details can be viewed on www.guthgafa.com.
Film funders from the US include a contingent from Tribeca in Lower Manhattan, NY and Sundance in Utah. Among the leading US film directors appearing at the festival are –
Brian Hill, director of ‘Climate of Change,’ which focuses on people from around the world making a difference in the fight against global warming, ranging from citizen lobbyists in Appalachia protesting strip-mining to communities in Papua New Guinea preventing commercial logging in the rain forests; Laura Israel, director of ‘Windfall,’ which focuses on controversy in Meredith, New York, where a small community is prised apart by the efforts of Irish-based wind energy company, Airtricity, to build a series of 40-storey wind farms among the hills; Jennifer Redfearn, director of ‘Sun Come Up,’ who investigates the difficulties of island life in which people leave the Cataret Islands to find a new place to settle in.
The festival will open this Friday evening with a special screening of ‘Donor Unknown,’ set in the US, which follows the journey of Jo Ellen Marsh as she goes in search of the sperm donor father she only knows as Donor 150, and her siblings.