Documentaries - Sheffield Doc/Fest


We love our documentaries here on The DreamCage and Sheffield Doc/Fest kicks off on Thursday. Here's some of the highlights to look forward to...

Press Release

 Sheffield Doc/Fest celebrates its 25th edition in 2018 with a six-day line-up celebrating the art and business of documentary and non-fiction through film, interactive and immersive story forms, special events and live performance, plus talks by on-screen talent and makers. This year’s programme features 200 documentary features and shorts, 27 interactive and immersive projects, including seven virtual reality installations in the Alternate Realities Exhibition held at Trafalgar Warehouse, plus special events and talks and industry sessions. To celebrate the 25th edition Doc/Fest will present three Festival commissions: DOUBLETHINK, by renowned artists and filmmakers Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard (20,000 Days on Earth) written by Stuart Evers and performed by George MacKay (Pride, Sunshine on Leith) with support from Wellcome; the Alternate Realities Commission, Face to Face supported by Arts Council England, and Warp Records artist GAIKA will perform a new live score responding to Khalik Allah’s Black Mother.

Says Liz McIntyre, Festival Director & CEO, Sheffield Doc/Fest, “When Doc/Fest was born in 1994, the world was ushering in a remarkable era of new power and influence: the world wide web, President Mandela and the end of the Cold War. A quarter of a century on, stories abound at Doc/Fest that question anew what power we each hold or lack politically, socially and in our personal and professional relationships. Doc/Fest 2018 is alive with a new wave of diverse filmmakers responding to these extraordinary times and disrupting the status quo.”


The Festival opens on Thursday 7th June with the World premiere of Sean McAllister’s A Northern Soul who returns to his hometown of Hull where he meets and starts filming Steve Arnott, a struggling warehouse worker by day and hip-hop performer by night, who harbours his own creative dream. Sean McAllister and Steve Arnott will attend the Festival Opening at City Hall and take part in post screening questions and answers.

The opening evening of the Festival will also screen a special preview of Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui’s McQueen which uses archival footage and personal testimonials to present an intimate portrait of revolutionary British fashion designer ‘Lee’ Alexander McQueen, the working-class boy who became a global one-man fashion brand.

This year’s Special Events line-up features live, interactive and immersive storytelling experiences which complement the six-day Festival programme. Live performance events include a vibrant night from São Paulo pop star Linn da Quebrada, follows the screening of Kiko Goifman and Claudia Priscilla’s Teddy Award winning Tranny Fag, a candid profile of this black trans woman whose explicit anthems give voice to marginalised communities from the favelas; Thurston Moore (of Sonic Youth) will perform live following the UK premiere of Stuart Swezey’s Desolation Center which vividly portrays the untold story of a series of guerrilla desert gatherings now recognised as the inspiration for Burning Man and Coachella festivals; world-class beatboxer and vocal artist Reeps One presents the World premiere of his new live show Reeps One presents: We Speak Music Live, which blends the latest technology, stunning visuals, and unbelievable performances, to explore the human voice and the power of self-expression; Singaporean vocal loop artist Weish will live accompany the UK premiere of Sundance Award winning Shirkers, which will be followed by a Q&A with director Sandi Tan.

Comedian John Robertson hosts a special Sheffield and documentary-themed edition of his cult smash live show The Dark Room: a live interactive game based on the text-based adventure games of the ‘80s and ‘90s; The Incredible Playable Show captures the current zeitgeist for all things ‘90s, where the audience become human buttons, zap each other with barcode scanners, and play Pac-Man using inflatable toys in the award winning live video game show, which will reference iconic Sheffield landmarks, and feature themes from the Alternate Realities programme; Threads: Redux will see performance artist Richard DeDomenici recreate several minutes of 1984 docu-style drama Threads which depicts chilling imagery of a nuclear apocalypse in Sheffield, at the very locations it was shot. On Wednesday 6 June Sheffield public are invited to take part in this guerilla recreation, ready for the Threads: Redux premiere at a special live show hosted by the uniquely absurd DeDomenici at the Leadmill on Saturday 9 June.


Throughout the Festival, alongside The Light Cinema Free Screen on Howard Street, audiences can experience a ‘brain controlled film’ installation The Moment (World premiere) created by neuroscientist and filmmaker Richard Ramchurn: a dystopian sci fi short film whereby the editing and narrative is controlled by brain sensors attached to one viewer, selected as ‘The Controller’, to create one of 1.1 trillion versions of the film.

Filmmaker and doctor of GeoHumanities Amy Cutler presents the nature documentary as never seen or heard it before, Nature’s Nickelodeons is inspired by an abandoned idea of Walt Disney’s to build natural history cinemas in zoos. Experimental composers and musicians join Cutler to re-invent the heroes, villains, sounds and spaces of nature broadcasts whilst travelling through submerged volcanoes, bio-luminescence, flocking birds and swarming insects.

On Tudor Square, Doc/Fest Exchange: Head Space supported by Wellcome, will host a programme of special talks, films and activity about mental health. The Exchange programme of events is headlined by Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard’s immersive video installation DOUBLETHINK which invites audiences to make a binary decision: enter the container marked HATE or the one marked HOPE. Iain & Jane will be joined by George MacKay to talk about the making and experience of DOUBLETHINK in Doc/Fest Exchange. Other Exchange speakers include SBTV founder Jamal Edwards who will talk about his work to break the stigma around mental health; vocal artist Reeps One will talk about the crossover between music, science and mental health; and BBC Asian Network presenter Mim Shaikh. Exchange/Dome will host film screenings including Erick Stoll and Chase Whiteside’s América and contemporary artist Leigh Ledare’s The Task.


In the Talks programme, speakers include activist and model Munroe Bergdorf who will discuss her work, her activism and how her experiences as a transgender woman remain the driving force behind her work. The Festival also welcomes back Sir Trevor McDonald for the ITV Interview to discuss what drives him to make some of TV’s most compelling crime documentaries. Britain's best-known classicist, feminist and best-selling author of Women & Power: A Manifesto, Mary Beard, will be in conversation with Charlotte Moore, Director of Content at the BBC for the BBC Interview and playwright John Godber and artist Caroline McFarland will talk to Newsnight and Sky Arts presenter Kirsty Wark at Art 50: A Post Brexit Britain about how their work reveals how we’re redefining ourselves post Brexit. Grimsby-born, TV adventurer, motorcycle racer and lorry mechanic Guy Martin will make a rare public appearance to talk about his passion for engineering and the thrill of speed for the Channel 4 Interview and actor Vicky McClure, the star of This is England and Broadchurch, will discuss the making of her new BBC documentary series, Vicky McClure: My Dementia Choir (Curve Media) and her ambition to leave a lasting legacy in our understanding of how music therapy can help people with dementia.

The BAFTA- and Oscar- nominated director Matthew Heineman (City of Ghosts; Cartel Land) will give a masterclass supported by BAFTA; the self-taught director of Black Mother and Field Niggas, Khalik Allah, will explore a new film language with curator and programmer Ashley Clark; and acclaimed filmmaker and author Mark Cousins will look at 30 key cultural images to explore the aesthetics, politics and emotion of ‘looking’.

This year’s Doc/Question Time, supported by the Nations & Regions Conference, will examine Big Data, Dark PR & Whistleblowing. A panel of whistleblowers, journalists, media lawyers and filmmakers examine how the pursuit of truth and justice is affected by the issues of dark PR and data mining, including a discussion about the Cambridge Analytica Facebook scandal.

This year’s country focus – New/Lebanon – includes four feature length and two mid-length films which offer an insight into contemporary Lebanese documentary cinema including Siska’s In the Ruins of Baalbeck Studios (International premiere) who interweaves audio with damaged archive to recreate the heyday of the biggest production company in the Arab world; Rana Eid’s Panoptic is an evocative personal essay reflecting Beirut’s difficult recent and uneasy present; and winner at RIDM 2017, Anthony Chidiac’s Room for a Man explores identity and family history. Also screening, from renowned artist Jumana Manna, is Wild Relatives (UK premiere) which is competing in the Environmental Award.


In Doc/Visions, the film programme revisits projects from the past. Marking both the centenary of the 1918 suffrage act and her birth year, pioneering British filmmaker Margaret Tait is the center of Margaret Tait: A Century a mini retrospective collection of her titles: Colour Poems, A Portrait of Ga, Tailpiece, Aerial, Where I am is Here. Nathaniel Dorsky Arboretum Cycle (International premiere) is a magical collection of seven 16mm films exploring the beauty of Californian nature in spring light. Each silent film celebrates qualities of energy, joy, fullness, and rebirth.

For this year’s retrospective Doc/Retro: Electric Avenues, Sheffield Doc/Fest is pleased to present an alternative history of street documentary, featuring a parade of rarely seen films portraying city life from Guangzhou, to Cairo, Los Angeles, and Dakar. In these films, largely from the Global South diaspora of artists/filmmakers, the street is not the route, it is the destination. Including: two feature films, Cocorico Monsieur Poulet and Disorder and four short film compilations, including works from late 1960s and 1970s, as well as contemporary visions of public life from the likes of Djibril Diop Mambéty (Touki Bouki) and Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives), Cecile Emeke (Episodes 3,5 & 9 from her Strolling series) and three shorts from the esteemed Egyptian director Attiyat El-Abnoudi (Horse of Mud, Sad Song of Touha, The Sandwich).

The Festival closes with the Sheffield Doc/Fest 2018 Awards Ceremony hosted by BBC Radio Sheffield’s Paulette Edwards celebrating special prize recipients, nominees from twelve Festival award categories and the jury selected Film and Alternate Realities winners, followed by a screening of the winning film of the 2018 Doc Audience Award supported by Curzon, culminating in the legendary Doc/Fest Guilty Pleasures party.




Sheffield Doc/Fest Film Programme - for more information and to book tickets, please visit the Sheffield Doc/Fest website.

Presenting bold and innovative non-fiction films made by some of the most authentic international filmmakers working today, this year’s Film programme includes a record 37 World premiere screenings, plus 18 International, 24 European, and 70 UK premieres.

Doc/Fest’s Director of Film Programming, Luke W Moody says, “Non-fiction cinema offers another sensibility, a space to coalesce, trust and doubt, to look and be looked at through intimate and subjective moments we otherwise would not encounter. In times of increasingly divisive political narratives, art is a vital dissident, radically connecting us with visions of the world around us”.

Mark Cousins, Sophie Fiennes, Liv Wynter, Samson Kambalu are among jurors to consider the official competition titles including those competing in the Grand Jury, Environmental, Art Doc, Illuminate, Tim Hetherington and New Talent Awards.

Sheffield Doc/Fest awards are also given for the Short Doc Award supported by Canon, and Doc Audience Award supported by Curzon. Also voted for by the audience, the Doc/Dispatch Prize supported by Deutsche Welle, will be given to the winner of this year’s showcase for documentary journalism from citizen reporters, investigative filmmakers and responsive news units.

Notable world premieres playing outside Doc/Fest’s official competition include: Arwen Curry’s Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin, a portrait of the recently deceased trailblazing rebel who shook the world of literature, defying gender norms, societal expectations and patriarchal gatekeeping; two years since the Dehli gang rape, Inka Achte’s Boys Who Like Girls follows teenager Ved who joins a boys’ club run by 'Men Against Violence and Abuse' and wonders whether his will be the first generation of boys that actually respects girls?; in Joost Vandebrug’s Bruce Lee & The Outlaw, Nicu a young homeless boy, is adopted by Bruce Lee, the notorious “King of the Underworld” and goes to live with him in the tunnels underneath Bucharest; Chris Martin’s Under The Wire is a powerful film that tells the story of celebrated Sunday Times journalist Marie Colvin and photographer Paul Conroy’s ill-fated trip to Syria in February 2012, based on Conroy’s book of same title; Callum Macrae’s The BallyMurphy Precedent investigates Britain’s secret war-crime: the little known killing of 11 innocent civilians by British forces in one Belfast estate which led to Bloody Sunday and helped precipitate Northern Ireland’s 30-year war; in Maceo Frost’s Too Beautiful: Our Right to Fight Cuba ranks highly at Olympic boxing, but women can't compete. This immersive film follows Havana boxer Namibia, who's hoping the ban is lifted before she ages out of eligibility.

Additional World premieres include: Mari Gulbiani’s Before Father Gets Back set in a Georgian village, from which many men have left for Syria, two girls escape a shared longing for their fathers through the magic of cinema; Florian Heinzen-Ziob’s German Classclosely follows the lives of children from abroad as they take their first steps in the German school system; Alisa Kovalenko’ Home Games follows 20-year-old Alina as she’s about to join the Ukrainian national team, when her mother suddenly dies leaving two young siblings – now she must choose football or family; Denis Parrot’s Out is the first documentary to address LGBTQ+ coming out stories exclusively through social media footage; Scott Christopherson The Insufferable Groo follows Utah-based filmmaker Stephen Groo, who having directed nearly 200 low-budget movies, seeks Jack Black for his latest human/elf fantasy drama; Ho Chao-ti’s Turning 18 is a story of abandonment, love and courage, asking how can an unloved life find a strength of her own?; Petr Šprincl Vienna Calling is a docu-fiction road movie, following a grave robbing artist and his sidekick’s journey to Vienna in a horse drawn caravan of death to return some famous teeth; Tuki Jencquel Está Todo Bien is about an activist who delivers badly needed medicines in Venezuela where salaries peak at 12 dollars a month and 16,000 doctors have left the country.

New wave of UK filmmakers and extraordinary contemporary UK stories feature in the New/UK strand: Ben Anthony’s Grenfell (World premiere) reflects on the one year anniversary of the tragic events of last summer, featuring accounts from the people whose lives were irrevocably changed by the most devastating tower block fire in British history; Stefan Stuckert’s Against The Tides (World premiere) documents British open water swimmer Beth French’s attempts to be the first person to complete 'Oceans Seven' – swimming seven of the world's most dangerous sea crossings in a single calendar year; James Newton’s Gun No. 6 (World premiere) is the story of Britain’s deadliest illegal gun, used in 11 shootings and three murders – this hi-bred of documentary and drama uncovers the reality of gun crime in Britain; Jenn Nkiru’s Rebirth is Necessary is an explosive and rhythmic synthesis of beautiful archive footage, new visions and rich textures – an ode to the magic of Blackness, and a visceral reinvention of film language; Ayo Akingbade’s Street 66 (UK premiere) documents Londoner Theodora Boatemah who having successfully transformed her neglected Brixton estate is now challenging the threat of gentrification; Roxy Rezvany’s Little Pyongyang (UK premiere) is set in the suburbia of East Malden, home to the largest community of North Koreans outside of Korea.

Images & info - Sheffield Doc/Fest