The Film Festival as a Unique Cultural Space in Ireland 


WHEN:            Thursday 2 December 2021 

TIME:              12.30 to 13.30 

WHERE:         Online via Zoom.

A place of discovery, the festival format lends itself to experiments with new content, new delivery modes and new experiences. The film festival offers a space for exploring new films, but also pragmatically operates within the wider economies of the international film distribution networks. Grainne Humphreys, Festival Director of the Dublin International Film Festival, Mamobo Ogoro of Gorm Media, Sarah Smyth of Screen Scotland, and Fionnuala Sweeney of the Irish Arts Council joined Dr. Maria O’Brien to explore the following (The video from which is available below):

  • What is the purpose of a film festival? 
  • Is there a space for Irish film in the festival circuit? 
  • Is the traditional film festival exclusionary of alternative voices? 
  • The role of film festivals as a platform for supporting emerging filmmakers / talent?
  • Who are the festival audiences and non-audiences and how do they engage (or not) with festivals?  
  • What cultural policies support the festival form? 
  • How has the rise of online streaming affected the film festival?  
  • What about funding supports for the film festival? 
  • What about the visibility of alternative forms? 

Cultural Policy Observatory Ireland was delighted to host ‘The Film Festival in Ireland’ as part of a series of gatherings that will explore the existence, affordances, and porosity of boundaries as they are perceived and operate within theaudiovisual industries, curated by Maria O’Brien (DCU). 

Grainne Humphreys is Festival Director of the Dublin International Film Festival since 2008. She started her career working with young audiences with the Junior Dublin Film Festival in 1994 and she has worked in film programming for over twenty five years. In 1995, she joined the IFI as Education Officer and expanded her role to include special seasons including a focus on the film work of diverse figures such as Andy Warhol, Agnes Varda and Harold Pinter.  She was director of both the Stranger Than Fiction Documentary Festival and the Dublin French Film Festival from 2002- 2007. She teaches a course on Film Distribution & Exhibition at Griffith College Dublin as well as Film Festival Strategy for Screenskills Ireland.

Mamobo Ogoro (BA, MA) is a social psychologist and social entrepreneur. As the founder Gorm Media, a start-up impact focused digital media company, Mamobo is on a mission to unify the world. At Gorm Media, our mission curate common ground, and spark a movement of unity and shared understanding, and through innovative video content that captures the stories, nuances, and experiences of those in our community, we believe that we can unify! Likewise, in partnership with Innovate Limerick through Film in Limerick, Gorm Media has recently launched the Diverse Screen Programme which aims to combat the disparities in representation behind the screen. Follow Gorm on social media: @gormmedia

Maria O’Brien is an academic and film festival administrator. She currently holds a teaching assistant position in the School of Law & Government, Dublin City University. She holds a PhD in political economy of audiovisual industries in Ireland from the School of Communications, DCU. She is co-founder (with Marie-Pierre Richard) and co-organiser of the Arts Council funded East Asia Film Festival Ireland. She researches all aspects of cultural and creative industries policy. 

Sarah Smyth currently works for the public funding agency for film and TV in Scotland, Screen Scotland, as Executive Officer where she supports the Executive Director and Director on policy matters and operations. Before joining Screen Scotland, Sarah worked in the cultural cinema sector in Ireland specialising in film festival programming and delivery. Former positions include Marketing and Development Manager at Dublin International Film Festival and Festival Director at Kerry Film Festival as well as providing project management and communications consultancy to Cork Film Festival and Queens Film Theatre, Belfast. Sarah holds a PhD from the University of St Andrews where her research addressed the role of film festivals as a form of cultural regeneration in post-industrial cities. The research produced in-depth case studies on Glasgow Film Festival, Sheffield Doc Fest and Flatpack in Birmingham. She has lectured various courses on cultural event management and policy, the global cinema industry and film theory.

Fionnuala Sweeney is Head of Film and Architecture at the Arts Council. She is responsible for managing the Arts Council’s policy formulation and implementation, and grant and relationship management, in the areas of film and architecture.