We wish all our friends and supporters a wonderful Christmas and we hope that 2015 will be a peaceful and positive year for all of us. A huge thank you from Neasa and I and the whole Guth Gafa team to all of you for encouraging us to go ahead with our 8th Guth Gafa International Documentary Festival in 2014. It was touch and go earlier in the year, as we battled to find the funds, but we went ahead at the end of October, and it was well worth it.
Guth Gafa is a small miracle and we are very proud of what our amazing team of staff and volunteers achieve every year on a micro-budget. Our motivation comes from the pleasure of showing great feature documentaries on hugely important issues, but also from the enthusiasm of our dedicated followers who travelled this year to Meath and Donegal to watch and discuss the films, and from the filmmakers who come from all over the world to share their experiences with us.
Filmmakers love Guth Gafa because they get to show their films in relatively small, intimate rural venues, where audiences appreciate the opportunity to meet the filmmakers and hear them talk about their work. We regularly receive emails fom international visitors who tell us that Guth Gafa is the best film festival in the world and the best festival experience they have ever had.
Despite a massively reduced budget for our eighth Guth Gafa Festival-less than half of what we had last year-we managed to pull off two wonderful weekends of screening more than 30 of the best documentaries in the world, and hosted intense debate and discussion with our visiting filmmakers from Ireland and 15 other countries. We also held our first Guth Gafa Film Forum, bringing together expert speakers from around the world to share their experience.
There is a revolution in the documentary world. More and more people are watching documentaries to help them understand our planet, and to inspire them to change it. Over the years many of the films we have selected for Guth Gafa have proven to be catalysts for change in our society. The most recent example is this year when we screened Food Chains, on the abuse and exploitation of farmworkers in the food industry, which has garnered huge interest in the US since its theatrical release there, and Virunga, on the intersecting interests of big oil, poachers and armed militia in a game reserve in the Congo, which has been shortlisted for Oscar nomination. Both these films address hugely important social justice issues.
Even after eight great years, for Guth Gafa to survive into 2015 and beyond, we need to constantly reassess our vision, which has always been to bring the best documentaries on human rights, social justice and the environment to non-urban audiences. We believe our future lies in expanding that vision to include more educational outreach work, more community-based screenings and new ways to show these films, and to this end we are exploring new initiatives with The Irish Film Board, with NUI Maynooth and with other organisations.
We need your support to make this happen and we need to know what you think we can do. We are open to invitations to bring Guth Gafa films anywhere in the country, using our pop-up cinema model in parish halls, community centres, schools, arts centres, castles and forts.
But funding our endeavours continues to be an enormous challege so if you know someone – a private company, an NGO, a community group – who want to join the social documentary revolution and make a donation, please let us know.
And finally, we would really appreciate your thoughts and feedback about what we do. What do you like about Guth Gafa, what works best, what doesn’t work and how can we change or improve it?
Stick with us in 2015. It’s been a labour of love to bring you nearly 200 exceptional feature documentary films over the last 8 years, but we are as passionate as ever about it, and we want you to travel on the journey with us.
Thank you all so much.
David and Neasa
9th Guth Gafa Festival Dates – 2nd to 4th October, Kells, County Meath