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Docs Ireland Announces Opening Film

Award-winning film about life in Belfast flats to open Docs Ireland 2024

DOCS IRELAND has revealed its Opening Film for this year’s festival programme is THE FLATS, an award-winning and impactful film about the people living in the New Lodge area of Belfast.

Fresh from winning the most prestigious prize at CPH:DOX, one of the largest documentary film festivals in Europe, Alessandra Celesia’s film THE FLATS follows four people from the New Lodge flats, a working class, Catholic community in Belfast as they revisit the collective memories that shaped their lives and the district they live in.

Emotionally taut, haunting in its authenticity and bursting with characteristically dark Belfast humour, THE FLATS invites the audience into both the past and the present of the tumultuous world of the New Lodge flats. The screening takes place on Tuesday 18th June at 7pm in Cineworld, Odyssey Arena. Tickets are available at

Ahead of the festival programme launch next Thursday 16th May, organisers have also provided a sneak preview of other highlights including their Special Guests, Focus on Palestine strand and its Industry Programme.


Docs Ireland is honoured to be welcoming Academy and BAFTA winning director, writer and producer, ASIF KAPADIA for a special “In Conversation” event at QFT Belfast with filmmaker Lisa Barros D’Sa. Kapadia is one of the most influential documentary filmmakers of his generation, best known for his acclaimed trilogy of films SENNA, AMY and DIEGO MARADONA.  In this long form conversation Kapadia will be discussing his past work and processes as well as his upcoming project 2073, a genre-bending documentary set in the future which tackles the biggest challenges endangering our present, starring Samantha Morton and Naomi Ackie. Asif Kapadia will be presented with the prestigious Docs Ireland International Award for Outstanding Contribution to Documentary.


Working with their colleagues at Filmlab Palestine, Docs Ireland has programmed a strand of Palestinian films and talks. These screenings will be fundraisers for Medical Aid Palestine. THREE PROMISES, BETWEEN TWO CROSSINGS, RESTRICTION and THE CITIES WE LIVE IN will screen over the course of the festival alongside a talk from Queen’s University Professor Des O’Rawe on European representations of Palestine on Film.


Docs Ireland returns again with its world class industry programme. With a host of workshops, Panels and Case Studies such as theAnatomy of a Cut editing workshop, the Sustaining a Living as a Documentary Filmmaker Roundtable, The Year That Rocked Irish Dancing Case Study and the In Real Life: Giving Your Doc a Life in Cinema presented by filmmaker Luke McManus (North Circular) and culture journalist and curator Derek O’Connor. This year the festival will also shine a Spotlight on the Nordics with a morning of presentations, case studies and panels exploring documentary in the Nordic region and the infrastructures and mechanisms which keep it sustainable.

Returning for its fifth year, Docs Ireland Marketplace is an opportunity for filmmakers to meet one-to-one with leading international documentary industry players, including international funders, broadcasters, distributors and exhibitors taking place on Friday 21st June and Saturday 22nd June in 2 Royal Avenue.

A festival favourite the Northern Ireland Screen Pitch is back again bringing exciting new projects in front of a panel of experts for the chance of winning an award of £9,000 funding towards a pilot for a documentary feature.

The Industry programme also boasts a series of networking opportunities including drinks receptions and a Meet The Programmers Lunch open to Industry Delegates who wish to meet film festival programmers from across Europe.

The Pure Class Delegates Passes include six days of screenings and access to panels, workshops, talks and networking opportunities. They are £85 for professionals and £55 for students and can be purchased at the Docs Ireland website

Stuart Sloan, Docs Ireland Programmer commented:
“We can’t wait to welcome our audiences to the sixth Docs Ireland to celebrate documentary, from Ireland and around the globe. Our opening night film is Alessandra Celesia’s multi award-winning exploration of life in the New Lodge in North Belfast. First conceived at Docs Ireland’s Marketplace in 2019, THE FLATS follows a series of residents in their daily lives, struggles and victories. We also welcome one of our documentary heroes, Asif Kapadia whose work has changed the documentary landscape over the last decade – and we cannot wait to hear from him at a live public event on 22nd June.
“As a documentary festival, we often screen films that examine the longer term legacies and consequences of colonialism throughout the world. This year, the devastating short-term impacts of colonialism have never been more clear. We feel it is not time to look away, and are presenting a series of films from Palestine through our continued partnership with Filmlab in Ramallah.”

Hannah Atallah, Founder/Artistic Director, Filmlab Palestine said:
“We appreciate [Docs Ireland’s] effort and support in continuing to tell and show our stories and narratives. In light of the distortion of Palestinian history by the international press and official reporting that continues to dehumanise us and our suffering, as well as the legitimisation of the genocide in Gaza, we feel that we should continue spreading our voices and stories in these unbearable times.”

Docs Ireland is supported by Northern Ireland Screen through the Department for Communities, Belfast City Council, Screen Ireland and BFI/Film Hub NI, and is proudly sponsored by TG4, BBCNI and Yellowmoon.