Guth Gafa International Documentary Festival Brings Exciting Array of Docs to Meath


Guth Gafa International Documentary Festival Brings Exciting Array of Docs to Meath

Posted: 26th July 2017

The Guth Gafa International Documentary Festival begins on 4 August, with three IFB docs screening among an impressive international line-up, during the course of the weekend-long festival. Ross McDonnell and Tim Golden’s Elián, Neasa Ní Chianáin and David Rane’s School Life, and Emer Reynolds’ The Farthest will all be presented in what will be the 11th iteration of Ireland’s only independent documentary film festival. 

On 5 August, there will also be a panel discussion on The Farthest, featuring Reynolds and key members of the creative team behind the film. The event will take place at 4.30pm in the Adam Room of Headfort House and will offer unique insights into the making of Reynolds’ critically acclaimed NASA Space Voyager documentary.

Elián’s Guth Gafa screening comes after the doc has enjoyed a successful run on the international festival circuit; playing at the Tribeca Film Festival (where it received its world premiere), Sheffield Doc/Fest and most recently, the Galway Film Fleadh.  Set to the backdrop of a tense and acrimonious relationship between the US and Cuba, Elián recounts the story of a Cuban boy named Elián González, who, on Thanksgiving Day 1999 was found floating on an inner tube in the Florida Straits.  

McDonnell and Golden showcase how that particular Thanksgiving Day set in motion a bitter custody battle between Elián’s Cuban father and US relatives as the documentary is underscored by a deeply moving personal and political commentary. Produced by Trevor Birney at Fine Point Films with funding from the IFB, Elián uses one boy’s remarkable journey to plot the path to rapprochement between Cuba and the US.

Following its world premiere at the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) in December 2016, School Life went on to impress critics at the Sundance Film Festival in January, with one hailing it as “delicately executed in every department.” Telling the story of Headfort; the last remaining boarding school for primary age children in Ireland, School Life is set on a sprawling estate in Kells, Co. Meath.

Three years in the making, the film focuses on two of the longest-serving staff members, John and Amanda Leyden, who met as young teachers at the school in the 1970s and live on the school grounds. Unconventional, but both dedicated and inspiring teachers, they work long hours, serving as mentors and surrogate parents for the children in their care.

Produced by David Rane at Soilsíu Films, the documentary melds two seemingly incongruent worlds as the ultra-modern teaching of Headfort’s brilliant staff is set against the 18th century backdrop of the school’s grand reception rooms, long corridors and secret doors.

Another festival favourite is Emer Reynolds’ award-winning, The Farthest, which received its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival; debuting to international critical acclaim. The doc has since gone on to screen at the Edinburgh Film Festival, the Galway Film Fleadh and the Audi Dublin International Film Festival.

Produced by John Murray and Clare Strong at Crossing the Line Productions, the doc examines one of humankind’s greatest achievements—the Voyager spacecraft—as well introducing audiences to the men and women who built this magnificent machine.

Carrying a Golden Record bearing recordings and images of life on Earth, the Voyager, remains one of the most audacious projects in human history that in all likelihood will outlast humanity. The Farthest celebrates the awe-inspiring technology behind the Voyagers as well as the men and women who built them and the vision that propelled them farther than anyone could ever have hoped.

The 11th Guth Gafa International Documentary Festival takes place from 4 – 7 August in Kells, Co. Meath. The full programme as well as more info on panels and workshops can be found here


About Guth Gafa


Guth Gafa (meaning ‘captive voice’) is Ireland’s only independent documentary film festival. The festival focuss on showcasing the latest award-winning International and Irish documentary films on thought-provoking subjects, and promoting the art of great story-telling, through film, to rural Irish communities.

The 2017 edition of the festival runs from 2 – 7 August in the magnificent and tranquil grounds of the 18th century Headfort House—a hidden gem close to the historic village of Kells in Co Meath. The objective of bringing Guth Gafa to this location is about creating opportunities for as wide an audience as possible to see human rights and social issue documentary films.

Every year, the festival brings an intimate but intense hotbed of documentary film to Ireland. With family screenings and workshops running in parallel, the 11th Guth Gafa promises to be another great festival.

Guth Gafa is proudly presented with the support of the Arts Council of Ireland, Bórd Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board, The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, Fáilte Ireland, and Meath County Council.