Donegal to host Ireland’s first ‘socially distanced’ film festival

Disappear Here Film Festival in Ballyliffin starts on Friday, September 25

Donegal to host Ireland’s first ‘socially distanced’ film festival

The Disappear Here Film Festival in Ballyliffin starts on Friday, September 25

Trying to produce and run a physical event in the middle of a global lockdown can’t be easy, but that is exactly what the team behind Disappear Here Film Festival are gearing up for in less than just two weeks’ time.

This increasingly popular three-day event has been steadily making a name for itself on the film festival circuit over the last four years and it seems the organisers weren’t going to let the inconvenience of a world-wide pandemic interfere with their plans to bring an impressive array of new films to their loyal audience in Ballyliffin.

Festival director, Michael McLaughlin talks about this year’s event.

“The pandemic has been devastating for the film industry, particularly in production, for actors and crew etc. While it is now starting to creep back into action, festivals like ours rely on the presence of an audience to witness this work on the big screen.

"Life is constantly throwing us curveballs and we simply have to adapt. Human beings are great at that!

“Our team at the festival believe strongly in the value of culture and creativity, and we see our event as an important culture component locally, and as a continuing platform for filmmakers.

"We needed to make this event a physical one in 2020 to help restore audience confidence in gathering in public spaces and to feel safe and comfortable in doing so.

“While we are forced to operate at a significantly reduced capacity this year, we have actually increased the number of films we are showing across the weekend.

"Our opening film on Friday, September 25 is Ken Loach’s powerful family drama Sorry we Missed You. It is a very human look at the consequences of the gig economy on a family trying to claw its way out of debt after the 2008 financial crash

"We have excellent work from first-time Irish feature film directors - Tim Hanon’s romantic comedy, Justice for One and our closing film the excellent Be Good or Be Gone directed by Cathal Nally.

"Our documentary strands this year contain The Ring that Tied the Room Together, a look at the sometimes comical yet fiercely competent professional wrestling circuit in Ireland.

"Anyone with an interest in GAA needs to check out Who the FxxK is Charlotte? - A Gaelic Football Story in America, following a team of American women competing at very highest level against Irish All-Stars in Ireland’s national sport.”

"With most festivals going online this year, Disappear Here Film Festival will have a significant online element to compliment the physical event. Workshops and masterclasses are back with regular collaborators, the Donegal Film Office, Cinemagic and Changemakers.

“Add to these our always impressive collection of short films, many shot during lockdown and all dealing with important topics like rural isolation, domestic abuse, and climate change.

"It was also great to see so much student work submitted from colleges here in Donegal and Derry, and further afield from the National Film School in IADT.”

With most festivals postponing or cancelling this year, Michael says they were determined to proceed as long as government guidelines allowed it.

“We just need people to come now. What we promise is a safe, relaxed and comfortable experience watching great films on our big screen. Without our audience, this event simply won’t survive.

"From an organisational point of view, creativity always finds a way, even when the odds are stacked against it. We were determined to encourage and support that as it’s needed now, more than ever,” he said.

For full programme details and ticket info see: www.disappearherefilmfest.com

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