Filmmaker and Philanthropist Abigail Disney at 65th Cork International Film Festival

Filmmaker and Philanthropist Abigail Disney at 65th Cork International Film Festival

Cork International Film Festival (CIFF) presents its renowned Industry Days online for free in its 65th edition in November. Doc Day 2020 has an exciting programme of events available to view and participate online from Tuesday November 10th through to the end of the CIFF digital festival on Sunday November 15th, presented in partnership with Screen Ireland/Fís Éireann and supported by Screen Skills Ireland.

The keynote speaker at the annual documentary-focused Industry Day will be filmmaker and philanthropist Abigail Disney in conversation with Fiona Clark, CEO CIFF. Abigail Disney is the Producer of Pray the Devil Back to Hell and is the executive producer, writer, and director of The Armor of Light, which won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Social Issue Documentary, and which will screen at CIFF this year, alongside new Irish documentary, The 8th, partially funded by Abigail’s production company Fork Films. Abigail will speak about her career in film, her advocacy work, and her philanthropic pursuits in the film world and beyond.


Documentary Gala, Castro’s Spies

In addition to insightful discussions and interviews with industry professionals, CIFF will present a Documentary Gala featuring the world premiere screening of Irish documentary feature Castro’s Spies. Co-directed by Ollie Aslin and Gary Lennon this riveting film recounts the experiences of an elite band of Cuban spies who led dangerous double lives in the 1990s, living and working in Florida with fabricated identities. Told from the perspective of these men and their families, the film provides impressive, unprecedented access to the so-called ‘Cuban 5’, weaving a fascinating narrative of intrigue, intelligence and espionage, within the backdrop of  the highly fraught US-Cuban diplomatic landscape.

In a special case study dedicated to exploring the archival element of the film, Castro’s Spies co-director Ollie Aslin discusses his experiences working with the incredibly rich archival footage exhibited within the documentary, with Shane O’Sullivan, filmmaker and film lecturer at Kingston School of Art.

Unmissable panel discussions with industry guests

‘Advocacy and Activism in Documentary Distribution’ features co-directors of The 8th Maeve Boyle, Aideen Kane and Lucy Kennedy who will discuss the making of the  film, their forthcoming strategic social impact campaign and their experiences releasing The 8th into an almost exclusively digital world. The 8th traces Ireland’s campaign to remove the 8th Amendment, charting a bold strategy of grassroots activism, the film is an urgent narrative, a cautionary tale and a roadmap for progressive reforms in a modern era.

‘The Emotional and Personal Risks of Documentary Filmmaking’ will discuss the unique set of challenges to the mental and emotional health of the filmmaker. Speakers will  include Trevor Birney, Producer of No Stone Unturned and Alison Millar, Director of Ceasefire Baby, and others to be announced. This session is presented in partnership with Docs Ireland, Belfast.

In addition to these sessions, a group of seasoned documentary professionals discuss their experiences in ‘Working with your Subjects’ explores the responsibilities towards contributors, building trust, examples of films where this has worked (and hasn’t!), and the ethics of documentary filmmaking. Speakers include Tom Burke, Director, Losing Alaska; Gary Lennon, Co-director, Castro’s Spies (screening at CIFF); and Eimhear O’Neill, Producer, Fine Point Films.

The session ‘Make Film History, Opening up the Archives to Young Filmmakers’ explores the problematic issues surrounding the creative reuse of moving image archive material, against a backdrop of cultural heritage organisations digitising their collections for increased public access, (including Cork International Film Festival’s new Digital Archive). Whilst image portals like the IFI Player, RTÉ Archives, BFI Player and BBC iPlayer provide audiences with virtual screening rooms to view audio visual history on demand, the session will explore issues pertaining to copyright, ethics and the aesthetic and illustrative function of archival appropriation in a range of visual forms. . The Make Film History network is addressing these issues by developing a new, sustainable model for the creative reuse of archive material for non-commercial use.  Presented by the project’s key facilitators, Ciara Chambers, Head of Film and Screen Media at UCC, and Shane O’Sullivan, Filmmaking Lecturer, Kingston School of Art.

First Take – Monday 9 November

First Take is a training and development platform for newly established film professionals, emerging filmmakers, film and media students, and the wider film industry, comprising case studies, presentations and panel discussions. Sessions at First Take 2020 will focus on Irish feature film The Bright Side (world premiering at CIFF2020), the current state of play for festival programming, and the challenges presented by film production in the age of COVID-19.

Sessions will take place on Monday 9 November, and then will be available for catch-up on the CIFF @home online platform until Sunday 15 November.

‘Production in the Age of COVID’ will be chaired by Stephen Davenport, Inward Production Manager, Screen Ireland with Jessie Fisk Producer, Wolf, Ailish Bracken, Line Producer, Wolf and Celine Haddad, Project Manager, Screen Ireland.

In our ‘Case Study in low budget feature production, The Bright Side’, the team behind Irish feature film The Bright Side (World Premiering at CIFF2020) will discuss the process of bringing this wonderful debut feature into the world, the collaborative creative process, and both the positives and perils of producing a low budget feature film. Mary Kate O’Flanagan, writer, storyteller and story consultant, will chair this talk, with Tony Deegan, producer, and Ruth Meehan, director of the The Bright Side.

‘In Her Own Voice’: Women talk film, presented in partnership with Women in Film and Television Ireland, (WIFT), celebrates the recent successes and accomplishments of Irish female filmmakers, and the positive changes in the industry since the recent movement to encourage and promote women in film. With Susan Liddy, Co-chair WIFT, Cathy Brady, Director, Wildfire, Ailbhe Keogan Screenwriter, Run & Jump, and Katie McNiece Director, In Orbit.

‘Programming in a Pandemic: The Changing Landscape of Film Festival Curation’ welcomes Ireland’s top film festival programmers to discuss the current state of play within the Irish and international film festival landscape, how their festival is adapting to this brave new world, and the challenging aspects of programming in a pandemic. The panel comprises Esther McCarthy, Film journalist, (Chair), with contributors Will Fitzgerald, Director of Programming, Galway Film Fleadh; Gráinne Humphreys, Festival Director, Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival; and Anna Kopecká  Director of Programming, Cork International Film Festival.



For more information, images or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Tracey Ferguson | M: +353(86)158-4342 | E: