Tag Archives: Dublin

3 Festivals, 2 Weeks, 1 Amazing Festival Trip to Ireland!

My first real festival adventure of the year was actually three events rolled into one. First I headed to the very top of Donegal, to a village called Malin for Guth Gafa Documentary Festival followed by a week in Dublin visiting friends and volunteering with both Dublin Writers Festival and Dublin Dance Festival. As you can imagine this made for a busy schedule, just the way I like it.
It was Guth Gafa’s first year in Malin and the festival team got an enthusiastic welcome by the local community. We stayed in a couple of lovely houses near the village with sheep grazing outside the window and a short walk to the Green where the festival tent was pitched. There was also the pop-up cinema truck and the world’s smallest cinema, an old phone booth ‘screening’ a short film called Bye Bye Now, about the disappearance of phone booths around Ireland. You can watch it here. Despite summery temperatures one day and a flood the next, it was a blissful weekend, spending time with old and new friends, volunteers, filmmakers and local folks. I also discovered two lovely bands, who both performed as part of the festival: The Henry Girls and Kate O’Callaghan and her husband Seamus.
Then I was off to Dublin, which was exciting after nearly three years of being away, but I also felt like I’d outgrown it somehow after living in Vancouver and now London. Still very nice to be back. Spent a week alternating between Dublin Dance Festival and Dublin Writers Festival, incredible fun! Both festivals had the usual fantastic programme of international and Irish guests and I got to know  a lot of interesting people. A typical day would consist of doing a meet & greet with authors at the festival hotel or walking them to the venue, stewarding at a dance performance and helping with box office followed by a few hours at the writers festival club for a gig at the Clarence hotel.
Some of the many highlights at both festivals were: Rebecca Solnit (brilliant creative essayist), Tom Keneally (eloquent author of Schindler’s Ark), Kevin Powers and Ben Fountain (both ex-soldiers who wrote fascinating novels about the experience of war); the ‘dual’ between Caitlin Moran (1200 people at sold out NCH!) and Jon Ronson, both fabulously entertaining; the Dennis O’Driscoll tribute evening with Seamus Heaney; Untrained by Lucy Guerin (two professional dancers and two non-dancers, humorous and thoughtful performance); Egg Charade by Aoife McAtamney and Nina Vallon (intense, ironic and playful two-women piece)
It was really one of my best festival trips in a long time and the perfect start to another summer of festivals!

The First Ever DubTeaUp Tea & Cake ‘Festival’ :-)

What a lovely tea and cake fuelled evening it was! Thanks to all of you who joined us for DubTeaUp in the Exchange in Temple Bar last night. If  you couldn’t make it, here is what you’ve missed:

over 40 tea drinking, cake munching DubTeaUpers from Ireland, France, Poland, the UK, Croatia, Germany and the USA

more than 10 homemade cake offerings including rhubarb tarte, lemon drizzle cake, flapjacks, brownies, cupcakes and welsh cakes

about 30 cute and colourful, feline and other fabulous tea mugs and teapots of all shapes and sizes

two lovely musical interludes by Welsh DubTeaUpers

Some more pix of the night can be found here, feel free to add your own ones.

Thanks to the Exchange for providing the beautiful venue, Dairine of Clement and Pekoe for the enticing tea selection, all the cake bakers and everybody else who contributed in some way or another! 🙂

Film and Social Change: The Fomacs Moving Worlds Symposium 2010

After Guth Gafa had been so interesting and enjoyable I was very much looking forward to the Moving Worlds Symposium organised by FOMACS (Forum on Migration and Communications) in the IFI in Dublin this past weekend. The programme was excellent and the speakers included South African filmmaker Francois Verster, Active Voice director Ellen Schneider from San Francisco, digital strategy expert Howard Pyle from New York and Sarah Mosses who works for the Channel 4 Britdoc Foundation in the UK.

The weekend started out with a screening of Francois Verster’s intriguing documentary The Mothers’ House following the life of a family in post-Apartheid South Africa. At the Q&A that followed the screening Francois talked a little bit about the ethics of documentary making and the fact that docs cannot claim to be objective but filmmakers can work with integrity. Creative documentary can be a great starting point for further discussion on social justice issues and this tends to work best if the audience is allowed to draw their own conclusions rather than being told what to think, for instance through excessive use of voice overs.

The next morning we started with an excellent presentation by Active Voice executive director Ellen Schneider who showed us a fascinating case study (a film called Welcome to Shelbyville) and talked us through how her organisation works. Active Voice develop social change campaigns by using stories in the form of creative documentaries as mechanisms for action. By carefully bringing the perspectives and needs of creatives, funders, communities and advocates together projects can benefit each participant in different ways. The filmmaker will, for instance, hold onto her rights and creative integrity but it is also possible to create multiple versions of a film or special cuts with the requirements of grantmakers, constituents and social change advocates in mind. Ellen’s advice is to aim for highest quality content, know exactly what you want and make this clear to all involved at the start of any project, be open to think outside the box and embrace opportunities and a participative approach.

After a sunny lunch at the Temple Bar Market with some of the symposium participants we headed back inside the IFI for Howard Pyle’s talk on why the internet is not (just) a movie theatre. Howard, who works ‘at the creative intersection of communication systems’, talked about how the message of a film or project is at least as important as the content and needs to be carefully considered. Message, audiences, communities, channels and allies all play their part in propelling a campaign forward and creating a positive multiplier effect. It is vital to engage influencers and evangelists who genuinely care about your message and a better world for all. In order to do this a targeted and creative mix of communication strategies is needed. We looked at four case studies (social change doc trailers) and in smaller groups tried to come up with the best strategies for each of them to spread the message of the film. The learning from everybody’s input went to show how bringing together people from various national and international constituencies all of whom have social justice at heart is a very powerful way of teasing out ideas that can have a real impact. Having said that, it was equally valuable to see which aspects we ‘missed’ during our brainstorming sessions as this helped figuring out where we had still most to learn.

Having had some interesting conversations with Sarah Mosses the day before, I was really looking forward to Sunday morning to hear her talk more about the intriguing work she does. Sarah produces Good Screenings for the Channel 4 Britdoc Foundation and also works on distribution and outreach for various doc film projects. Like the other three presenters she spoke very eloquently about how documentaries can be used as part of a larger social movement strategy. Britdoc fund new documentary filmmakers and offer innovative new ways for finding (e.g. Good Pitch and Films For Good workshops) and distributing (e.g. Good Films) content. Her tips are to make your film’s story as compelling as possible, to not ever sell a film to only one distributor and to join industry networks, such as Shooting People, and build longterm working relationships inside and outside your sector.

In the final panel discussion that followed Fomacs director Áine O’Brien and the four speakers emphasised again that social engagement and the collaboration and consideration of various constituents (within the context of a film particularly also those with opposing opinions) involved in a social change campaign are essential in order for it to be believable and ultimately successful. Elements of this process include the core story which moves the audience, a targeted follow-on strategy to go with it, an understanding of supply and demand in terms of the product, how constituencies actually use the created content, financial models that work and are sustainable and measuring the impact of the campaign.

Finally, kudos to FOMACS for bringing together such a stellar and relevant group of creatives who were truly inspiring each in their own right. The fact that they generously shared their expertise and were very approachable throughout the whole weekend goes to show that collaboration and communication is key no matter what side of the process we are on.

Some additional, useful links for doc filmmakers, social change activists, NGO media reps, social justice bloggers and anyone else who is interested in films and campaigns that make a difference:

BeCause Foundation (promotes social change through the power of film)

Babelgum (ad-based, free internet and mobile TV platform including quality short films)

Center for Social Media (showcases and analyses media for public knowledge and action)

Fledgling Fund (supports innovative media projects that target social issues)

FOMACS (is a collaborative public media project of the Centre for Transcultural Research and Media Practice at Dublin Institute of Technology producing unique human-interest stories on the topic of immigration and integration in Ireland)

The Prenups (Active Voice tips for a more productive relationship between filmmakers and funders)

Voice of My Own (Scottish org producing films with and for young people)

Welcoming America (building a nation of neighbours)

Some quotes from the weekend:
‘Trust in your work, you can never tell what impact it might have.’ (Howard)
‘The film is not the end of the story.’ (Áine)
‘I defy anyone to launch social movements without these stories.’ (Ellen)
‘Never sell your film to only one distributor.’ (Sarah)
‘My films always turn out to be better than the original proposal.’ (Francois)

Music for the Mass(es): The Dublin Handel Festival 2009

Here are a few impressions of the Dublin Handel Festival Let’s Walk and Talk Guided Tour and the Messiah in the Street Performance on 13 April 2009

The Let's Walk and Talk Guided Tour of Handel's Dublin attracted about 250 history and music enthusiasts on Easter Monday. According to our knowledgeable guide, Handel's contemporaries would have been a lot more rowd than us. We still managed to stop traffic on as we made our way through Dublin, stopping the traffic along the road.

The Let’s Walk and Talk Guided Tour of Handel’s Dublin attracted about 250 history and music enthusiasts on Easter Monday. According to our knowledgeable guide, Pat Liddy, Handel’s contemporaries would have been a lot more rowdy than us. We still managed to stop Dublin traffic a couple of times during our two hour exploration of the city.

Thankfully the weather held while Our Lady’s Choral Society performed excerpts from Handel’s Messiah at the original site where it its world premiere took place in 1742.

Our Lady’s Choral Society performed excerpts from Handel’s Messiah at the original site where its world premiere took place in 1742. 

Some came well prepared for whatever the weather turned out to be. But, hallelujah, umbrellas and rain ponchos weren't needed, but a strong voice and a good sense of humour went a long way today.

Some patriotic punters came well prepared for whatever the weather would hold. But, hallelujah, umbrellas and rain ponchos weren’t really needed while a strong voice and a good sense of humour were definitely an asset!

Who is it for?
Anyone who likes Handel’s music or enjoys singing and a bit of European history while strolling through some nice parts of Dublin.
Why should I go?
Both the walk and the concert were free and it’s great for meeting new people from all over the world.
What’s the atmosphere like?
There was a mix of people of all ages, it’s not exactly party central, but if you feel like learning something about Dublin without too much of an effort on your part and without spending much money, it’s a brilliant way of seeing the city and listening to some great classical music.
Where can find out more?