AT the heart of the Guth Gafa International Documentary Film Festival are films that explore and expose human rights issues around the world and the festival this weekend is no exception.

The Peacemaker  celebrates the life of an extraordinary Irishman, Padraig O’Malley who is ranked among the top peace negotiators in the world.  Padraig and filmmaker James Demo will be at the festival for the screening on Saturday night and Padraig will be guest of honour at a special event on Sunday when he will be in conversation with Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International, Ireland.

The rise in radical jihadism is a growing problem and Guth Gafa is screening three films which explore this troubling phenomenon from different perspectives. The award winning Dugma:The Button offers a unique insight into the mind of a suicide bomber in waiting.  Filmmaker, Paul Refsdal who has a history of imbedding with insurgent groups, will be at the festival.

The Father, The Son and The Holy Jihad retraces the steps of a European family of Muslim origin as they turn towards Jihad,  while another Irish premiere, Among The Believers goes behind the scenes of the Red Mosque movement in Pakistan where impoverished children are being radicalised, under the guise of education.

Set in Afghanistan, The Land of the Enlightened unveils a lawless place where feral kids survive on their wits in a harsh landscape.

One of the biggest human rights issues of the day, the international refugee crisis, is explored through Mahmud’s Escape,  a film which follows a Syrian family’s hazardous journey to safety in Switzerland, while Detained takes a look at life for rejected asylum seekers in a Swedish immigration detention centre. The Longest Run  focuses on two underage refugees from Syria and Iraq who end up in a Greek prison after being wrongfully accused of smuggling illegal immigrants .

One teenage illegal immigrant’s struggle to resist her family’s attempts to take her back to Afghanistan and marry her off, is the subject of the very powerful

Sonita . Meanwhile, Exile Family Movie looks at what happens when you bring together a family that has been separated for two decades and are not the same people they once were.

Among the selection of short Virtual Reality films are Clouds Over Sidra  which takes the viewer on a tour a refugee camp in Jordan through the eyes of a 12- year- old girl, Invisible takes the viewer on an immersive journey inside an immigration detention centre in the UK and Home Aamir  offers an eye witness perspective on life in the so-called Calais Jungle.


A powerful trio of short films, presented by The Irish Council for Civil Liberties include Caoimhe Butterly’s The Border  , documenting the impact border closures is having on thousands of refugees,  Backlash: The War on Human Rights which looks at an alarming rise in Government attacks on human rights defenders and Sumud: Everyday Resistance which examines life under Israeli military occupation in the West Bank through the stories of Palestinian women.

The struggle for human rights doesn’t always happen under the international spotlight and Guth Gafa presents two stories where the heroes are quietly but determinedly fighting for their freedom.

We’ll Be Alright  follows two courageous young women as they attempt to liberate themselves from a neuropsychiatric institution in Siberia where they have been placed since birth but they are in a battle with bureaucracy.

An 11-year-old boy who works in the coalmines of North India, dreams that one day he will be able to attend school in Fireflies in the Abyss  and in a true celebration of the triumph of the human spirit his dream comes true.

Dr Maya Angelou has become a global symbol of peace, humility and freedom. In this beautifully  crafted story of her life, Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise  we see how her writing and activism helped to shape a new world view.