Mothers: a critical and original look at China’s one-child policy

A still from 'Mothers' by Huijing Xu

A still from ‘Mothers’ by Huijing Xu

The incredibly brave documentary Mothers by Huijing Xu lasts an hour but scars for life. Returning to his native northern Chinese village of Ma, Huijing Xu trails government officials, camera in hand and films them doing their job: enforcing the one-child policy and policing the administration of birth control and sterilisation on all women of child-bearing age.

Thirty years after the one-child policy was implemented along with hefty fines for those who don’t adhere to it, this harrowing “day in the life of” shows how policies from the top filter down through the layers to the village streets where on a local level neighbours and friends are compelled to interfere in each other’s most private sphere.

Check out my full review of this documentary, which received a special mention at the Sheffield Doc/Fest last week.


NCR: Not Criminally Responsible


NCRHe was driven by the voices in his head, she was driven by an errand to run. Their paths collided, a mind snapped, a blade lashed out, a victim fell, her life forever changed. It was 1999.


NCR takes the viewer on an agonising journey into the depths of mental illness and its very tragic consequences for both the sufferer and those around him.

This documentary runs at the Sheffield Doc/Fest today and tomorrow, catch it if you can! Read my full review over on DocGeeks.


Mirage Men: and now for something completely different

A still from Mirage Men, which will premiere at the Sheffield Doc/Fest

A still from Mirage Men, which will premiere at the Sheffield Doc/Fest

This week has been so hot in Ireland eggs were frying on stones and Toblerone has been melting on window sills before 10am. To compound my exquisite good luck, I’ve also been privvy to some exclusive previews of the Sheffield Doc/Fest which opens this week.

The first documentary I was enthralled by was called Mirage Men. The film, which will premiere worldwide this week at the festival, is easily one of the most intriguing documentaries I’ve seen in a while.

Correctly described as a blend between Close Encounters of the Third Kind and the Manchurian candidate, Mirage Men spins a dark yarn of unexplained phenomena and of belief manipulation by higher powers which will leave you wondering which part of what you’re seeing and hearing is real. And you may never find out.

To read my full review and to see the trailer, head over to DocGeeks.

The Marble Lady: the face of scleroderma in Ireland

“If…cancer, my particular cancer was put in front of me and scleroderma was put in front of me I’d pick cancer. Strangely. I’m better from cancer, I’m not going to get better from scleroderma.”

Unpredictable, irreversible, progressive and as yet, incurable , scleroderma is considered the deadliest of all connective tissue diseases. It’s estimated that 1 in 10,000 people will develop it.

From the Greek words “Skleros”, meaning hard, and “Derma”, meaning skin. It develops when the body produces too much collagen and hardens. Few people know about it yet in most cases it’s a life-changer and in some cases, it can kill.

Last year, I produced a radio documentary about this little known auto-immune condition, telling the story of patients in Ireland, mainly women and a handful of men, who suffer from this rare, debilitating and life-threatening auto-immune connective tissue disease. Read more of this post

As Goes Janesville, so goes the rest of the world?

As Goes JanesvilleThe premise of ‘As Goes Janesville’, recently released on DVD, is an age-old story: small town prospers around big corporation, big corporation packs bags and leaves thousands without a job. Now what? This is where the action starts. The story of contrasts emerging from this well-rounded and complex piece of work, far from being a generic remake of David and Goliath, is both timeless and timely, generic yet unique.

It’s the result of a number of years work by director Brad Lichtenstein and team, who started filming in 2008 in Janesville, Wisconsin after the controversial closure of the General Motors plant that put thousands of locals out of work and became the cause of much political wrangling thereafter. Read more of this post

“This isn’t a game – this is the art of rap!”

Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap

Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap

To mark the launch on DVD of Ice-T’s groundbreaking documentary on rap and hip hop culture, “Something from nothing: the art of rap”, I reviewed the piece for online documentary lovers DocGeeks.

In my first review for the site, the teenage rap fan in me took a stroll down memory lane to revisit the history of a movement that was only in its infancy as I started to get into it.

It was just as powerful the second time around as when I saw it remotely on the night of the UK premiere from the Lighthouse Cinema in Dublin.

Read more of this post