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

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

Created in collaboration between Cork International Film Festival (Ireland’s first and largest film festival and destination for cinematic documentary) and Docs Ireland (the new all-Ireland documentary focused festival from Belfast Film Festival), this cross-border partnership seeks to foster a new generation of Irish documentary filmmakers from the north and south of Ireland.

Feature documentary in Ireland has developed exponentially over the past decade, with countless award-winning non-fiction films gaining traction and being showcased both nationally, and on an international level; through festivals, cinema releases, television broadcast and VOD. The aim of Ignite is to aid in the long term sustainable growth and artistry of talent in the Irish documentary film community, through training and skills development, mentorship and drawing from the resources and expertise of both festivals.

The scheme is project-led, and supports the progression of the selected projects and their teams, through training that focuses on the development process of documentary, from inception to exhibition. The scheme aims to foster a new generation of non-fiction creative documentary talent from all over the island of 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 developing their project, and will acquire market knowledge of the documentary industry, learning about the current trends in non-fiction film production, and giving them an expansive understanding of the sector. The programme includes workshops, masterclasses, and in person conversations with established documentarians, broadcasters, funders, sales agents, and other industry professionals. All training takes place in an intimate environment, which will allow a hands-on approach; facilitating maximum learning potential and the opportunity to network and foster new relationships.


The programme provides a long-term engagement, comprising:

  • Training days at Cork International Film Festival in November 2020,  and Docs Ireland in June 2021.
  • An out-of-festival training event in early spring.
  • The opportunity to attend a leading international Documentary Film Festival.

In the current environment of the Covid-19 Global pandemic, we are continuously monitoring prevailing government and health guidelines; should guidelines change, we will pivot the programme to be delivered digitally.


Ignite 2020-2021

Full Project / Participant List

Beatle Island – Gillian Callan (Director), Ciara Bresnihan (Producer)

A utopia lost off the West Coast of Ireland. Beatle Island is a tragedy about a group that attempted to create a new form of society on John Lennon’s island in Clew Bay, and the conflicts they had with the people of Westport.

The Honeypot – Laura Smith (Director), Lorraine Harton (Producer)

“If you find us, don’t revive us”. When burglars came across this note, they inadvertently stumbled upon the tragic trail of intrigue and deception left by international con-woman Julia Holmes.

Untitled Hydebank Film – Ross McClean (Director / Producer)

Ryan spends his last season as an inmate caring for a flock of sheep inside a Northern Irish prison’s walls. Upon release, he is thrust back into a precarious political environment as he ventures to raise his own flock, putting faith in the only occupation he has known to bring him solace.

Hy-Brasil – Michael Barwise (Co-director), Sean Mullan (Co-director)

A journey to find what you’re looking for. A storyteller embarks on a voyage to find the phantom island of Hy-Brasil, allegedly located 200 miles off the west coast of Ireland.

Pascal – John Conway (Director), Mairéad Ní Thréinir (Producer)

An old man living alone in a battered caravan, perched on the edge of an island on the Connemara coast. His legs are failing, his cancer is spreading, he couldn’t care less. He’s back on the island where he was born to live out his days, content in the knowledge that he didn’t waste a moment.

Searching for Space – Cara Holmes (Director), Evan Horan (Producer)

An intimate portrayal of a community of activists, creative artists and misfits told through lesbian lines – one of the oldest LGBT+ helplines in the world.



Cork International Film Festival is Ireland’s first and largest film festival and celebrates its 65th anniversary edition this November 8th – 15th. The Festival is proudly supported by principal funder the Arts Council, alongside Cork City Council, Screen Ireland, Creative Europe MEDIA, Cork County Council, Screen Skills Ireland, Culture Ireland, Creative Ireland, Rethink Ireland, ESB Energy for Generations Fund and the Gate Cinemas. Principal Media Partner is RTÉ and Media Partners are 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.



Docs Ireland is an industry focussed, all Ireland International Documentary Festival which will be held annually. The first edition was held in June 2019 and was proudly supported by principal funder NI Screen, alongside TG4, BBCNI, Arts & Business NI, Screen Ireland, Belfast City Council, Film Hub NI, Tourism Ireland, Department for Communities, and the British Council.

In its first year Docs Ireland successfully attracted over 5,500 people from Ireland, the UK, Europe, Canada and North America including leading members of the international documentary industry..

The festival offered opportunities for business development in the area of documentary production through its Doc Market –  Ireland’s first ever documentary film marketplace, and a new talent day which was held in partnership with BFI Docs Society. In 2019 Docs Ireland awarded monetary prizes for the best new Irish Feature (Gaza) best Irish Short Doc (Strong at the Broken Places) and the international Maysles Brothers observational doc award (Island).