Guth Gafa doc fest prefers the intimate approach

The fifth edition of the Guth Gafa Documentary Festival in Donegal, Ireland takes place June 11-13, bringing several international films and industry professionals to the gathering. Realscreen spoke with Guth Gafa program and industry coordinator Reto Stamm about what to expect this year, for those making the trip.
June 3, 2010

The fifth edition of the Guth Gafa Documentary Festival in Donegal, Ireland takes place June 11-13, bringing several international films and industry professionals to the gathering. Among the filmmakers expected to attend the fest are Kim Longinotto (pictured), who will be conducting a special master class; Kaleo La Belle (Beyond This Place); Ross McDonell and Carter Gunn (Colony) and Simon Chambers (Cowboys in India).

According to Reto Stamm, program and industry coordinator for the event, Guth Gafa is a festival with a difference, with founders Neasa Ni Chianain and David Rane favoring an intimate appreciation of the documentary form over volume and glitz.

‘We all had been visiting documentary festivals all over Europe and around the world for a number of years, but always felt that the best festival experience was to be at the smaller more intimate events,’ Stamm says. ‘The ideal festival for us is an amalgam of what we liked best in other festivals: a small, but carefully curated and coordinated choice of films, not an overwhelming catalog with 300 films.

‘Direct interaction and exchange with the filmmakers was more important to us than the entertainment options and expensive restaurants that some more cosmopolitan festival destinations offer,’ Stamm continues. ‘Add to this a non-competitive setting and an audience of local people, Irish and international guests and filmmakers all mingling and mixing in the one local pub and hotel and you have as intimate a festival experience as possible.’

Stamm says its film selection group is made up of four international doc lovers who, in assembling the list of 20 international and seven Irish docs that make the cut in the program, watch over 200 films per year. ‘The films we like to screen are usually films that matter, either through their content, their politics, their style or, ideally, in all of these aspects,’ says Stamm. ‘Guth Gafa’s motto, ‘Films on the Edge,’ is not only of geographical significance, it also sums up the ethos behind our selection process quite nicely.’

The fest also contains an industry component that includes seminars and workshop events. This year boasts a session exploring new modes of film distribution, featuring Dominique Henskens, communications and marketing manager, IFF Rotterdam; Meike Statema, IDFAcademy and IDFA Summer School coordinator; Hana Kulhankova, director, One World Int’l Human Rights Doc Festival, Prague and Lise Lense-Møller, producer, Magic Hour Films. Patricia Finneran, senior consultant, Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program; Peter Jäger, managing director, Autlook Filmsales and filmmaker John Appel will also take part in a ‘Meet the Experts’ panel.

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About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.