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A joint initiative of Cork International Film Festival & Docs Ireland, supported by TG4, the Arts Council of Ireland, Screen Skills Ireland, Screen Skillnet, Northern Ireland Screen and Arts & Business NI.


IGNITE is a bilingual talent development programme directed towards emerging Irish and Northern Irish documentary filmmakers embarking on their first or second non-fiction feature film. 

The IGNITE Documentary Talent Development Programme returns after the great success of year one of the scheme. During the first programme six feature documentary projects from emerging filmmakers were developed through training, workshops and one-to-one mentoring. The pilot programme also included targeted career development for the participating filmmakers, who included Gillian Callan, director of Beatle Island; Laura Smith and Lorraine Harton, director & producer of The Honeypot; Michael Barwise and Sean Mullan, co-directors of Hy-Brasil; John Conway and Mairéad Ní Thréinir, director & producer of Learning to Fall; Cara Holmes and Evan Horan, director & producer of Searching for Space; and Ross McClean, director of Untitled Hydebank Project. 

Applications for year two of IGNITE are now open. Docs Ireland will host an information session for the programme on Wednesday June 16th at 11.30am, as part of their online industry festival. To register your interest for this free event, please contact roisin@docsireland.ie. The closing date for applications is Friday, September 3rd  2021.

Created in a unique collaboration between the island’s first and newest films festivals, Cork International Film Festival and Docs Ireland, this cross-border partnership will foster a new generation of Irish/Northern Irish documentary filmmakers. 

Commenting on the announcement of year two of the talent development initiative, Cork International Film Festival Director and CEO, Fiona Clark, stated “The enormous interest in IGNITE in 2020 demonstrated to us that this type of structured training, talent development and networking opportunity is very much desired in Ireland. Our long-term ambition is to aid the sustainable growth of the Irish documentary film community, drawing on the expertise of both our festivals and providing a homegrown training ground for emerging filmmakers. We look forward to welcoming and working with a new cohort of IGNITE participants in year two.” 

Docs Ireland Festival Director Michelle Devlin said of the partnership with Cork International Film Festival, “Our Festivals are uniquely placed to deliver a meaningful professional development programme on a number of levels; in terms of geographical location on the island; the corresponding dates of the events; and the knowledge base and expertise within both festival teams of the international documentary landscape. Additionally, both festivals have strong, high calibre industry connections, and agree on the vital need to strengthen creative and filmic connections between the north and south of Ireland in the wake of Brexit.”

Proinsias Ní Ghráinne, Commissioning Editor TG4, Principal Sponsor said that the inaugural year of IGNITE “has quickly become a byword for ‘quality training’ in the Irish doc-making scene. This scheme is vital in the advancement of Irish language and bilingual storytelling and for documentary makers to reach international audiences and achieve outcomes outside of TV broadcast in Ireland.

IGNITE is a project-led scheme, which supports the progression of the selected projects and their teams through training focussed on the development process of documentary, all the way from inception to exhibition. The scheme fosters a new generation of non-fiction creative documentary talent from all over Ireland to pursue their first or second feature, and to provide them with a platform to develop the spectrum of skills and knowledge required to succeed as a feature documentary filmmaker on an international level.

During this comprehensive training initiative, participants will gain a grounding in all facets of project development, they will acquire market knowledge of the documentary industry, learning about the current trends in non-fiction film production, and an expansive understanding of the sector. The programme will include workshops, masterclasses, and in person conversations with established documentarians, broadcasters, funders, sales agents, and other industry professionals. All training will take place in a relaxed learning environment to allow for maximum learning potential and the opportunity to network and foster new relationships. 

The IGNITE programme will provide a long-term engagement, comprising:

  • Training days of workshops at Cork International Film Festival in November 2021, and Docs Ireland in June 2022.
  • An out-of-festival training event in early Spring 2021
  • The opportunity to attend a leading International Documentary Film Festival.

Deadline for applications is Friday, September 3rd. Successful projects will be announced in early October.

Docs Ireland will host an information session for the IGNITE Programme on Wednesday June 16th at 11.30am, as part of their online industry festival. To register your interest for this free event, please contact roisin@docsireland.ie

The IGNITE Documentary Talent Development programme is supported by TG4, the Arts Council of Ireland, Screen Skills Ireland, Screen Skillnet, Northern Ireland Screen and Arts & Business NI.

For further information, and to apply, please visit corkfilmfest.org/ignite/ or https://docsireland.ie/industry/ignite-talent-development/


“The support and expert guidance we’ve received through IGNITE has helped us shape and develop the project along a path that feels true to the film and to us as filmmakers, and we’ve been able to identify a place in the film world where this project will thrive.”

Michael Barwise & Sean Mullan, Co-Directors, Hy-Brasil

“We’ve learnt so much about the feature documentary world from fundraising, how to hone your pitches and stand out in the marketplace. It’s also been great to connect with peers across Ireland and build networks with people internationally and many who are well established in the industry.”

 Gillian Callan – Director, Beatle Island

“The highlight, for us, was (virtually) attending the Hot Docs festival. The engaging and entertaining sessions and films were hugely inspirational. Overall, the scheme has given us the confidence to navigate the sometimes confusing world of documentary pitching, funding, sales and distribution.”

John Conroy & Mairead Ní Threinír – Director & Producer, Pascal (Learning to Fall)

“Providing us with the opportunity to engage with industry experts who generously shared their knowledge and gave insightful feedback on our project, the Ignite programme exceeded my expectations in the variety of speakers and assistance offered. “

Lorraine Harton & Laura Smith, Producer & Director, The Honeypot

“Through its various workshops, webinars and information sessions, IGNITE gave me real insight and access to the workings of the feature documentary world not only in Ireland but across Europe and North America. Ignite provided us with real practical help with our films through pitching, treatment development, finance plans and strategies.” 

Cara Holmes – Director, Searching for Space

“The IGNITE programme delivered a well planned, constructive and encouraging series of training, discussions and workshops with many inspiring speakers from the world of documentary.”

Evan Horan – Producer, Searching for Space

“As a first time feature director and producer, I have gained confidence in how to approach the intimidating market landscape . . .It’s clear the experience and knowledge gained on the Ignite programme will provide a steady foundation for my career ahead.”

Ross McClean – Director, Untitled Hydebank Project

Further information on Cork International Film Festival & Docs Ireland:


Cork International Film Festival is Ireland’s first and largest film festival and one of Cork’s most significant and popular annual cultural events. The Festival is proudly supported by Principal Funder the Arts Council, along with Cork City Council, Screen Ireland, Creative Europe MEDIA, Screen Skills Ireland, Creative Ireland, Rethink Ireland, ESB Energy for Generations Fund, the Gate Cinemas, the River Lee, and UCC. Media Partners are RTÉ Supporting the Arts, the Irish Examiner and Red FM.

Doc Day at Cork International Film Festival is the festival’s flagship industry event, and seeks to inform, inspire and connect established and emerging non-fiction directors, producers and writers with international producers, directors, programmers, sales agents, distributors and film sector leaders to further understand and develop opportunities in the documentary landscape.

For full details, visit corkfilmfest.org, or see:
Facebook: @CorkFilmFestival
Twitter: @CorkFilmFest
Instagram: @CorkFilmFest


Docs Ireland is an annual industry focussed, all Ireland International Documentary Festival. Docs Ireland 3 will be held in two parts this year with an Industry focused series of online events from 16th – 19th June including a marketplace, pitching sessions, masterclasses, new talent focus and funding information events. The second part will be held in August 2021 taking place in person and offering documentary lovers the best of this year’s Irish/Northern Irish, new and international documentaries, shorts and features.

We are  proudly supported by principal funders NI Screen, Department Of Communities, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Belfast City Council, alongside TG4, Arts & Business NI, Belfast City Council, Film Hub NI, BFI FAN, Yellowmoon, Belfast Media, Screen Producers Ireland and Creative Europe Media.

For full details, visit docs-ireland.ie  or see:

Facebook: @DocsIreland1
Twitter: @DocsIreland
Instagram: @docsireland