For the 17th year, the Irish Film Institute, in Dublin's Temple Bar, will host five days of the very best of new documentary filmmaking from around the world.

The 17th IFI Documentary Festival opens on Wednesday (Sept 25), at the Irish Film Institute, with a screening of Benjamin Berman's hotly-anticipated movie, The Amazing Johnathan Documentary. The next five days will see the very best of new documentary filmmaking from Ireland, Lebanon, Sudan, Bulgaria, Chile and the Democratic Republic of Congo take center stage, as the IFI also welcomes a number of special guests to take part in panel discussions and Q&As.

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In the festival's opening night screening The Amazing Johnathan Documentary, director Benjamin Berman finds himself examining the very notion of documentary filmmaking when his portrait of terminally-ill magician-comedian The Amazing Johnathan veers into very unexpected territory. With twists and turns worthy of Three Identical Strangers, this is documentary filmmaking at its most intriguing and entertaining.

The Amazing Johnathan Documentary, promo shot.

The Amazing Johnathan Documentary, promo shot.

Guests scheduled to appear during the festival include Bill Drummond, formally of The KLF, who will perform his play White Saviour Complex with actor Tam Dean Burn, book-ending a screening Paul Duane's critically acclaimed Best Before Death. Filmmaker and photographer Seamus Murphy will take part in a Q&A following a screening of the new film A Dog Called Money, a look at the making of musician PJ Harvey's album The Hope Six Demolition Project.

A still from A Dog Called Money.

A still from A Dog Called Money.

Irish highlights include a sold-out screening of Alan Leonard's Heyday: The Mic Christopher Story; the world premiere of Peter Kelly's Journey to the Edge, which centers on Galway businessman Enda O'Coineen's attempt to sail around the world single-handed; and Citizen Europe, an affectionate look at the long-running Erasmus initiative. This year's festival will also feature the perennially popular Irish Shorts Programme, showcasing the work of the next generation of Irish filmmakers; the Audience Award for Best Irish Short is kindly sponsored by Screenscene.

A still from Peter Kelly's Journey to the Edge.

A still from Peter Kelly's Journey to the Edge.

The IFI is also delighted to welcome directors Ziad Kalthoum and Renaud Barret of Taste of Cement and festival closing film Système K respectively. Taste of Cement is a hard-hitting look at the lives of Syrian builders on Lebanese building sites, while Système K examines the burgeoning street art scene in Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Saturday evening will see a screening of Fredrik Gertten's timely documentary Push, which examines the global housing crisis; the screening of Push will be followed by a panel discussion.

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Other highlights of the festival include: Suhaib Gasmelbari's Talking About Trees, a winner at this year's Berlin Film Festival which focuses on the efforts of four retired Sudanese filmmakers to restore an outdoor cinema; Philippe Bellaiche and Rachel Leah Jones's Advocate, a look at the work of a Jewish-Israeli lawyer who has defended the human rights of Palestinian prisoners for over five decades; the charming Los Reyes, which centres on two stray dogs ruling the roost in a Chilean skate park; Gods of Molenbeek, which follows two young girls in the now-infamous Brusselian suburb; and Hristiana Raykova's The Pit, the story of a small Bulgarian community under threat due to the closure of a public swimming pool.

Rounding out this year's program is the Irish Premiere of Sundance hit Cold Case Hammarskjöld. In this compelling and highly original documentary, filmmaker Mads Brügger sets out to find the truth about the death of former UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld, who died in a mysterious plane crash in Zambia in September 1961.

Sundance hit Cold Case Hammarskjöld.

Sundance hit Cold Case Hammarskjöld.

Tickets are available online from www.ifi.ie/docfest, the IFI Box office at 6 Eustace Street, Dublin 2, and over the phone at 01 679 3477.

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Paul Duane's critically acclaimed Best Before Death.