The Kells-based film festival, Guth Gafa does not shirk from controversy. Over the past four years since the festival moved permanently from Donegal to a new home in County Meath, the festival has shown award-winning films that have provoked debate on many issues, including: the high price of fame in the music industry (Amy, 2015 and Whitney: Can I Be Me, 2017), whale butchery in the Faroe Islands (The Islands and the Whales, 2017), the ‘human’ side of suicide jihadis in Syria (Dugma: The Button, 2016), and the Dunnes Stores anti-apartheid strike (Blood Fruit, 2014).
This year Guth Gafa are screening three new films that will stir up their own controversy; three films that will surprise, inform and open a conversation about issues that affect us all.
In Eating Animals (Saturday 21st July, 5.15pm), the real cost to our health and environment, and the ethics of eating meat and dairy, are unveiled in a film that casts an unflinching look at the realities of factory farming, and the real cost of eating meat: to the environment, to animals and to our health.
In Family Shots (Saturday 21st July, 12.15pm), we see a very personal story about a husband and wife on two different sides of the debate about whether or not to to vaccinate their children, as the film follows the husband, director David Sievekind, on a highly entertaining but informative journey, which reveals some shocking facts about vaccines.
And the Irish film, I, Dolours (Saturday 21st July 8.15pm), about committed, unrepentant IRA member, Dolours Price, shows how how one person’s freedom fighter can be another person’s terrorist, and what it means to be born into a community where people are left with very little choice, but to be radicalised at an early age. The film shows the massive impact this had on Dolours Price’s life in a very honest, deeply moving documentary, where Price pulls no punches, revealing her involvement in the so-called ‘disappeared’, including Jean McConville, and stating unequivocally that Gerry Adams was the “officer commanding” of the Belfast IRA who gave Price her instructions.
Based on a best-selling book by Jonathon Safron, Eating Animals is a film produced and narrated by Oscar-winning actress, Natalie Portman. The film is directed by Christopher Quinn, who paints a stark picture of an America dominated by factory farming, a countryside pockmarked by massive barns, holding up to ten thousand pigs at a time; chicken runs that are almost entirely automated – hundreds of thousands of birds processed like bolts, or motorcar tyres. Quinn looks at the genetic mutation that has given the world fatter more compliant factory-friendly animals through selective breeding and chemical interventions.
However the film is not all about the dark side of farming. Using archive, the film also takes the audience back to an era of a closer partnership between farmers, animals and the land.
This thought-provoking film will be followed by ‘What’s On Your Plate?’, a discussion with the director, Christopher Quinn, the leader of the Irish Green Party, Eamon Ryan, and local food producers, Olivia Duff and Kevin Sheridan.
Festival Directors, David Rane and Neasa Ní Chianáin, believe their selection of films for this year’s Festival, presents an antidote to what people are ‘fed’ on TV and the internet. David Rane says: “ Many of the films we are screening at Guth Gafa are celebrations of the vision of brave filmmakers who defend human rights and expose environmental concerns. These films are often answers to the inflammatory rhetoric of the right wing, like The Island of the Hungry Ghosts (Sunday 22nd July 5.15pm), a damning investigation into the plight of detained asylum seekers in Australia’s most notorious detention centre; The Breadwinner (Friday 20th 12pm, and Sunday 22nd 10.30am), a powerful animated film, set in Kabul, that appeals for women’s rights and directly confronts misogyny and chauvinism in Afghanistan; and A Woman Captured (Saturday 21st July 3pm), about a woman held as a domestic slave in Eastern Europe.”
The 12th Guth Gafa International Documentary Film Festival takes place at Headfort House, Kells, County Meath from Friday 20th to Sunday 22nd July. Bookings can be made online at www.guthgafa.com