One of the world’s most important and vibrant documentary festivals, Sheffield Doc/Fest, today officially announced its programme for 13-17 June. It’s only six weeks away now so time to reveal some of the highlights.
“We find ourselves in the worst economical period in over 80 years and it has been hard for us, but thanks to all the great sponsors this year’s festival will be even bigger and better than last year’s,” the new chair of Sheffield Doc/Fest, Alex Graham, said today at the official launch of the festival’s programme. And he seems to be spot on.
The festival has managed to select 83 great docs from the more than 1500 entries it received. Of these, 11 are world premieres, 17 are European premieres and 20 are UK premieres.
Opening night events
The opening night will, for the first ever time, see two big events take place. One is the European premiere of Searching for Sugarman, a feature documentary by Malik Bendjelloul which received fantastic reviews when it first screened at Sundance in January. The film will be followed by Q&A with the director and the film’s subject, Mexican-American singer-songwriter Rodriguez.
Also screening is the brand new (they’re working on the edit as we speak) From the Sea to the Land Beyond, which ia directed by award-winning filmmaker Penny Woolcock. This silent documentary is made from 100 years of footage of the British coastline and will be accompanied by a live musical score by British Sea Power.
Speaking today, Woolcock, who is to receive the festival’s Inspiration Award, said: “The film starts with footage of people on Blackpool pier who are staring at the camera because they never saw one before, and it finshes with people on that same Blackpool pier but then showing their tits to the camera. And in between there is great footage of the coastline during historial events, such as two world wars.”
Five days later, the festival will close with a screening of the documentary Evidently… John Cooper Clarke, which includes live footage from Sheffield’s Leadmill, plus interviews with Jarvis Cocker, Bill Bailey, Arthur Smith, Mark Thomas and Billy Bragg.
Aside from Penny Woolcock’s film, other world premieres at the festival include:
Aluna (Alan Eriera)
Baka: A Cry from the Rainforest (Phil Agland)
Chopin Saved My Life (James Kent)
Fire in the Blood (Dylan Mohan Gray)
Glory Road (Steve Read)
Quadrophenia: Can You See The Real Me? (Matt O’Casey)
Straight 8 (Various)
The Life and Times of Paul the Psychic Octopus (Alexandre Philippe)
We Went to War (Michael Grigsby)
Jaywick Escapes (Karen Guthrie/Nina Pope)
The programme also sees a lot of home grown talent shine and is full of films by female directors. A couple of themes are recurring throughout, some major ones are protests and resistance, music and arts.
Hussain Currimboy, Doc/Fest’s film programmer said: “I’m really excited by the new talent that has emerged this year in documentary, especially from Britain. And I’m very proud to have such big films about artists. In fact, 2012 feels like it’s definitely the year of the artist inspired documentary.”
Examples of films referred to by Currimboy are Alison Klayman’s documentary Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, which will see its European premiere at the festival and Matthew Akers’ Sundance hit and Berlinale award winner Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present.
Other highlights include the screening of Oscar winning documentary Undefeated by T.J. Martin and Daniel Lindsay and Call Me Kuchu, which last weekend won Best International Feature at Hot Docs in Canada.
The full programme can be seen on the Sheffield Doc/Fest website.
Sheffield Doc/Fest is more than just a film festival, it is a chance for filmmakers to pitch, find funding and collaborate with inspiring partners, ranging from big brands to charities. Marketplace director Charlie Phillips said that last year’s festival had managed to raise £5.5 million for filmmakers.
This year, the festival offers eight different pitching opportunities for various types of support and funding. It’s own platform, MeetMarket, received 571 entries this year from which is chose 65 projects. These participants will get a chance to meet potential collaborators at the festival. The projects, according to Phillips, “come from almost all countries and continents, cover all different platforms, subjects and types of narratives and have been submitted by both experienced and novice filmmakers alike.”
Some of the other events at the festival will include a talk from 7 Up director Michael Apted, who’s latest doc in the landmark series - 56 Up – is to be screened by ITV on Monday 14 May 9pm, and a verbal battle on the right and wrongs of documentaries between A.A. Gill and Storyville editor Nick Fraser.
BAFTA in the meantime will hook up with the makers of the BBC’s natural history hit Frozen Planet to find out what went on behind the scenes during the making of this fabulous creation.
So, that’s it for now, there’s heaps more info to follow which we can’t fit in this post so keep checking the blog and follow us on Twitter @DocGeeks