Joe Lee


Joe Lee a native Dubliner graduated from the National College of Art and Design as a Fine Art Printmaker (specialising in screen printing ) in the early 1980s. He has worked predominately as an independent film and video maker since then, directing film and television documentaries in a range of art and production contexts.

His work includes the arts documentary films Heartfield  1991 about the life and work of the German photomontage artist John Heartfield. Hindesight  1993 about the life and work of the photographer and postcard producer John Hinde on the occasion of an exhibition of his work at the Irish Museum of Modern Art. SIAR 50 2005 a film about the origins of Irish Modern Art with the Contemporary Irish Arts Society on the occasion of the SIAR 50 exhibition at IMMA

He has also made an extensive series of film/arts projects with local communities in areas around Dublin including; Inchicore, O’Devaney Gardens, North West Inner City Markets Area, the North East Inner City and the Fairview Marino areas. He has completed a range of arts documentation film projects with national cultural institutions including; the Irish Museum of Modern Art, the National Museum of Ireland and the National Theatre of Ireland, The Abbey Theatre. He has exhibited print and video artworks in various exhibitions, winning awards at the Exhibition of Visual Art (EVA) Limerick in 1979 and in 2003. His video installation Open Season 1997 from the exhibition Once Is Too Much 1997 is in the permanent collection of the Irish Museum of Modern Art.  A number of his giclée photomontage prints are in the collection of the Contemporary Irish Arts Society.

He was Film–Maker-in-Residence for Dublin City Council in 2009 and made Bananas on the Breadboard an affectionate tribute to the lives of Dublin’s women street traders from the markets area. Bananas on the Breadboard screened at the Light House Cinema in Smithfield during the St. Patrick’s Festival 2010 and went on to be widely seen in local and community venues around Dublin in the years that followed.

The dance film The Area  2013 co-directed with choreographer Rionach NiNeill of Ciotog Dance Company and the Machusla Dance Group won the overall Festival Award for best film at Cinedans Film Festival in Amsterdam in March 2014, Best Irish Dance Film Lightmoves Limerick 2014 and Best Dance Documentary Choreoscope Barcelona 2015. The Area has screened extensively at international dance film festivals since 2014 including the prestigious Dance On Camera Film Festival at the Lincoln Centre New York, the 6th ATHENS Video Dance Festival in January 2016 and FRAME dance film Festival in London in June 2016. The Area will be screened at the Dance Film Festival Warsaw Poland in December 2018.

The feature documentary film Fortunes Wheel The Life and Legacy of the Fairview Lion Tamer 2015, produced and directed by Joe Lee won the Dublin Film Critics Circle Award for Best Irish documentary at the Dublin International Film Festival 2015. It received critical acclaim in the press with four star reviews from: The Irish Times, Sunday Business Post and the Evening Herald. It had an unprecedented run of 4 weeks at the IFI cinema in Temple Bar Dublin in June 2015 and has been seen at numerous Film Festivals. It was broadcast on RTE television 2016 and was featured at a special screening at the Irish Arts Centre New York in May 2016.

Barracks Square Estate 2017 is a documentary film made with the support and co-operation of the Richmond Barracks Visitor Centre, CREATE, (the national agency for collaborative arts), Dublin City Council and local organisations in the Inchicore area of Dublin 8. The film tells the extraordinary story of life as lived over 200 years in Richmond Barracks, Keogh Square and St Michael’s Estate. By telling the intimate stories of these buildings and streets, vividly illustrated through personal and community archives, the film reveals a social and political history of Dublin and offers a reflection on Ireland’s changing urban landscape. Barracks Square Estate was presented as part of the Dublin History Festival 2017 and at the IFI cinema in February 2018.

Joe Lee is currently working on a digital film archival project with the IMMA, an oral history project with the Sisters of Mercy congregation, a centenary film project with Marino Residence Association and a photomontage Giclée print portfolio with Dominic Turner at Exhibit A.


Joe Lee Filmography

One Day Time 1882 short social drama  (Arts Council Film Bursary)

Sometime City  1985 Co-directed with Frank Deasy(Fiction social drama RTE /IFB Winner Best Short film Cork Film Festival 85)

The Courier  1988 Co-director with Frank Deasy (Fiction feature Euston Films/Palace Pictures)

Heartfield 1991 (Granada TV arts documentary)

Hindesight  1993 (RTE  arts documentary)

The Hard Man 1995  (social/human interest documentary ZDF RTE )

Open Season 1997 ( Video Installation Irish Museum of Modern Art Collection)

A Basket Full of Wallpaper 1998 (Short fiction Samson Films)

Dreams In The Dark 2003 (Public Arts commission Irish Arts Council RTE/IFB)

Dark Room 2003 (video art installation Winner EVA exhibition Limerick)

SIAR 50 2005 (arts documentary Contemporary Irish Arts Society)

Inside Out Outside In Stories from O’Devaney Gardens  2007 (public arts commission O’Devaney Gardens Community Council)

Bananas on the Breadboard 2010 (Dublin City Council, Arts Office Residency / Commission)

Citywide 2012 the story and response to the Dublin heroin crisis of the 1990s (commissioned by the Citywide organisation)

The Area 2013 co-director with Rionach Ni Neill (Dance film with Ciotog Dance Company Irish Arts Council) won the overall Festival Award for best film at Cinedans film Festival in Amsterdam in March 2014. Best Irish Dance Film Lightmoves Limerick 2014 and Best Dance Documentary Choreoscope Barcelona 2015.

Scattered 2014 short documentary about the failure of the PPP in O’Devaney Gardens (O’Devaney Gardens Community Council )

The Rabbit Hole 2014 co director with Louise Lewis (Short Fiction) A Theatre Club production for ADDICTION at the Project Arts Centre.

Fortune’s Wheel 2015 Winner Critics Award Best Irish Documentary Jameson Dublin International Film festival, 2nd Prize Audience Award Jameson Dublin International Film festival. Broadcast RTE 2016

Barracks Square Estate 2017 documentary, the story behind one place, with three identities over 200 years, Richmond Barracks, Keogh Square and St Michael’s Estate in Dublin8. (made with the support of CREATE the national agency for collaborative arts, Dublin City Council and the Richmond Barracks Visitor Centre) Presented as part of the Dublin History Festival 2017 and at the IFI cinema in February 2018.