Sheffield Doc/Fest is a world-leading festival celebrating the art and business of documentary and non-fiction storytelling across all forms.
Highlights for the 2019 festival, which takes place over six days from 6-11 June, include:
- FILM Asif Kapadia’s Diego Maradona opens the festival, plus BAFTA Masterclass;
- FILM Spotlight strand includes Ai Weiwei, Werner Herzog, Jeanie Finlay, Nick Broomfield, Waad Al-Kateab, Ursula Macfarlane;
- ALTERNATE REALITIES free digital art exhibitions featuring 28 immersive, interactive experiences and live performance;
- 54% of titles in the Film programme made by women;
- 50% of projects in Alternate Realities programme made by women;
- Accessible & Affordable Festival: return of From Door To Doc, The Light Free Screen on Howard Street and Doc/Fest Exchange on Tudor Square;
- Celebration of Northern Stories including world premiere of Sheffield-based filmmaker about Woodseats Working Men’s Football Club;
- Northern feminist film collectives featured in Focus/Shapes That Move;
- TALKS include Sir Bradley Wiggins, Stacey Dooley, Chidera Eggerue (aka The Slumflower), Paul Greengrass, Nick Hornby;
- LIVE MUSIC performances include Summer Camp, Kate Nash and Bo Ningen;
- LIVE EVENTS: Justice Syndicate from the Newcastle-based fanSHEN company; performance from Manchester natives House of Ghetto, voguing collective;
- PARTIES for all!
In the film programme the world premiere of The Campaigners by Sheffield’s own Jamie Taylor takes its audience inside the changing room of the local Woodseats Working Men’s Football Club; Todd Douglas Miller’s Apollo 11 featuring never-before-seen footage – sourced by Sheffield-based NASA archive expert Stephen Slater – goes straight into the heart of NASA’s most celebrated mission, as astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin embark on a historic trip to the moon; Radical Broadcasts, a programme specially commissioned for Sheffield Doc/Fest celebrates the work of television director and Yorkshire-native Mike Dibb, co-creator of John Berger’s revolutionising Ways of Seeing, the festival tagline. Mike Dibb will attend the festival.
The Alternate Realities digital art programmes of powerful interactive and immersive experiences include two free exhibitions, Subconscious Sensibilities at Site Gallery, and Converging Sensibilities in the VR Cinema at Sheffield Hallam’s Performance Lab. The Site Gallery exhibition includes Interactive Portraits: Trans People in Japan, a game created by Sheffield-based artist Zoyander Street, as playful representation of transgender people from Japan, using the nostalgic style of early gaming to create a connection with its contributors and the Alternate Realities commission, Spectre by the Manchester-based artist & researcher Barnaby Francis (aka Bill Posters) and Dr. Daniel Howe engages audiences with a personalised journey that tells a cautionary tale of computational propaganda, technology and democracy, curated by an algorithm, and powered by visitor data.
This year’s Live Events programme includes a collaboration between Newcastle-based fanSHEN, computational artist Joe McAlister and neuroscientist Dr Kris De Meyer. The Justice Syndicate is a piece of playable theatre drawing on a jury format, where a top surgeon is accused of a serious crime and asks twelve participants to fill in the gaps and deliver the ‘verdict’, while Deep in Vogue presents a colourful perspective on the vogueing subculture in Manchester, including a live performance from House of Ghetto.
And in the Talks programme, Lancashire based cycling legend Sir Bradley Wiggins will give the Channel 4 interview talking about his new documentary Bradley Wiggins: Tour De Flight – seven years after winning the Tour De France, he’s preparing to break a very different kind of record, peddling his way across the English Channel from England to France in a human-powered aircraft.
Says Melanie Iredale, Interim Director, Sheffield Doc/Fest “This year’s Doc/Fest celebrates local talent, internationalism, creativity and discovery; looking at the world with new eyes and giving a platform to a multitude of voices and ideas. I am so excited today to be unveiling a line-up of 180+ Films and 28Alternate Realities projects – from over 50 countries around the world, and over 50% of which are made by women. Live Events will feature music to voguing to social experiment; guests ranging from Asif Kapadia to Ai Weiwei to The Slumflower to Werner Herzog to Stacey Dooley. Artist Charlotte Jarvis will grow ‘female’ sperm! Only at Doc/Fest”.
The festival opens on Thursday 6 June at City Hall with the much anticipated Diego Maradona, a wild and irreverent look at one of the world’s most iconic sportsmen, both on and off the pitch, during his infamous time in Naples. Made by the Academy and BAFTA-winning team behind Amy and Senna, the screening will be followed by a Q&A with director Asif Kapadia. Asif Kapadia will also give the BAFTA Masterclass the following day, when he will discuss his own career and inspirations, his filmmaking practise, and his personal connection to his work.
A new addition to this year’s film programme is Spotlight, highlighting screenings followed by extended conversation. Included within Spotlight are: acclaimed Chinese artist Ai Weiwei with The Rest a film about refugees who fled war and persecution and arrived in Europe and now live in limbo within a disintegrating humanitarian aid system; Werner Herzog with Nomad: In the Footsteps of Bruce Chatwin, hosted by Patrick Holland, Controller, BBC Two, a portrait of one of the 20th century’s most charismatic writers and a revealing personal insight into the imagination and obsessions of one of the world’s most visionary directors; Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts with For Sama hosted by Jon Snow about the experience of war told as a message from a young Syrian mother, Jeanie Finlay and Freddy McConnell, with Seahorse: The Dad who Gave Birth which documents one trans man’s pioneering quest to fulfil the age-old desire to start his own family, Nick Broomfield with Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love, a beautiful yet tragic love story between Leonard Cohen and his Norwegian muse Marianne Ihlen, Ursula Macfarlane plus panel with Untouchable, the inside story of the meteoric rise and monstrous fall of movie titan Harvey Weinstein, revealing how Weinstein acquired and deployed his formidable power over the course of decades, Seamus Murphy with A Dog Called Money which investigates the creative process behind British musician PJ Harvey’s album The Hope Six Demolition Project.
Also new in 2019, the New/Hits strand including Tim Travers Hawkins’ XY Chelsea and Jeanie Finlay’s Game of Thrones: The Last Watch, made with unprecedented access on the set of the ultimate season of Game of Thrones.
Focus/Shapes That Move brings to the foreground the collaborative power of those who have contributed to shaping new futures in Britain using the medium of cinema, turning the act of filmmaking into an act of solidarity. Featuring the intersectional work of feminist film collectives in Britain from the 1970s to contemporary, including WiTCH, Sheffield Film Co-op, Leeds Animation Workshop and Black Women’s Media Project, the strand includes six film programmes: Another Mother, presenting a complex view of what it means to be a woman, a parent, and a human being; A British State of Being, a selection of films that tug at some of the frayed edges of the tapestry of nationality; Flip The Script, the shorts that both celebrate and galvanise the power of the LGBTQI+ community to interrupt binaries, disrupt the strictures of the status quo, and liberate the world from its own constraints; Operate Heavy Machinery, a selection of films celebrating the women of the North and their mobilisation, resilience and innovation in the world of work; Praise the Lorde, exploring American writer and feminist activist Audre Lorde’s influence in Britain, serving as a primer for those who have yet to be introduced to her brilliance and a homage for those who have; Rebel Films for Girls, a selection of films for young people co-presented with Art School for Rebel Girls, an ongoing arts project by Leeds gallery Pavilion fostering confidence, creativity and collaboration between young women.
The Shapes That Move: The Party at Theatre Deli, curated by Jade Jackman and Aleksandra Bilic, will feature a live stream DJ set by Nesa Azadikhah (Deep House Tehran), a live DJ set by Nadine Artois (Pxssy Palace) and BEARCAT represented by DISCWOMAN plus a unisex nail bar.
On Tudor Square, Doc/Fest Exchange: Healthy Planet, supported by Wellcome, brings together a specially curated programme of talks, films and conversations inspired by the convergence of social, environmental and digital movements. Drawing on insights from filmmakers, creatives and researchers it invites us to rethink how we might live together in a time of planetary uncertainty. Also supported by Wellcome, the From Door to Doc access initiative, which aims to break down the barriers to entry for those living in areas of Sheffield City Region which rarely engage in the arts, by offering a suite of activity & return travel to the festival for only £1. The Light Free Screen on Howard Street will offer free screenings including Jodie Foster-narrated Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché about one of the first women filmmakers, and The Great Pretenders, set at the TribFest, a tribute bands festival in Yorkshire.
Speakers in the Talks programme include Stacey Dooley, Nick Hornby, Werner Herzog, Chidera Eggerue (aka The Slumflower), Paul Greengrass, Rodney P, Carol Morley, and Jenn Nkiru whose new short BLACK TO TECHNO will have its UK premiere at the festival.
Twenty-eight projects will be exhibited at Alternate Realities, Sheffield Doc/Fest’s digital art programme, which runs throughout the festival. Featuring two free exhibitions, Subconscious Sensibilities at Site Gallery, and Converging Sensibilities in the VR Cinema at Sheffield Hallam’s Performance Lab plus a pop-up igloo on Site Square. The programme challenges preconceptions of the documentary form and proposes a new way of seeing and experiencing non-fiction stories, and includes previous Alternate Realities Market alumni Darren Emmerson and Zoyander Street. The exhibition at Site Gallery features 15 immersive and interactive artworks that stimulate all the senses, including Algorithmic Perfumery which uses personal data to train an AI system to make an original scent for every visitor. The VR cinema at Sheffield Hallam’s Performance Lab brings together audiences to collectively experience twelve 360° narrative documentary experiences and includes Potato Dreams which tells the story of Little Potato’s journey growing up gay in the Soviet Union and his mother’s struggles to create a better life for them both by becoming a mail-order bride to travel to America.
On Sunday 9 June The Alternate Realities Summit returns to examine the art and craft of digital storytelling. This year entitled Incomputable Sensibilities, the summit will be a day-long event of provocative and artistic debate, with talks, presentations, panel discussions and performances from the world’s leading immersive and interactive storytellers. Tea Uglow, creative director at Google’s Creative Lab in Sydney will open the day with a talk about designing stories for the brain. Encompassing creativity, risk taking and query based narrative. Other keynote speakers include artist Jepchumba talking about the latest African technological innovations in audio storytelling; bio artist Charlotte Jarvis who will present her project In Posse: making ‘female’ sperm, collaborative semen and reimagining the festival of Thesmophoria; and AI filmmaker Karen Palmer, who will share her insights into the intersection of AI & bias, gaming, art, neuroscience, behavioural psychology and consciousness. The summit will conclude with The Smartphone Orchestra presents: The Social Sorting Experiment Live Event, an absurdist interactive performance using the digital data trail left behind after all our social media activity.
Conceived by artist Lotte Andersen and director Kazim Rashid, The Lovers Table invites an interdisciplinary group of thinkers to present an aspect of their practice, be it video, sound or visual sketch. Work will be shared by Giles Duley, Ayo Akingbade, Sean Frank, Bafic, Ondine Viñao and Kayus Banks of Young Fathers. Rashid and Andersen will additionally premiere new projects. The Lovers Table will be followed by The Lovers Party at Hopeworks proudly presented by Sheffield Doc/Fest and 4:3, featuring Prestige Pak and Manara, and hosted by Miss Jackson.
This year’s festival will also feature four live music events. Elizabeth Sankey’s vibrant archive-based essay film Romantic Comedy – inspired by the director’s teenage obsession with rom coms – will be presented with the world premiere of a live score from Sankey’s band, Summer Camp; Kate Nash will perform following the screening of Amy Goldstein’s Kate Nash: Underestimate the Girl – in which the singer shares her experiences of navigating a sexist industry having been dropped by her record label for being too punk; The Silents of Avant Garde Paris feature three seminal works from masters of the surreal and avant-garde in 1920s Paris, including Man Ray, René Clair and Fernand Léger will screen with live music composed by Erik Satie and two new scores by Olivier award-winning composer Terry Davies performed by Modulus Quartet and Charlie Pyne Quartet. Japanese four-piece noise and alternative rock band Bo Ningen will accompany a chronology of rarely seen seminal short films from the pioneering Japanese filmmaker Toshio Matsumoto (1931-2017): The Weavers of Nishijin (1961), For the Damaged Right Eye (1968), Everything Visible is Empty (1975), Atman (1975) and Engram (1987) which is part of this year’s regional focus, New/Japan.
Music also features strongly in the Doc/Rhythm strand including Isaac Reeder’s Hype Master is dedicated to MC Stormin – one of the pioneers of Grime – and tells his rise to mainstream fame and his battle with cancer; Imogen Putler and Monika Baran’s Cool Daddio: The Second Youth of R. Stevie Moore is a tragi-comic musical odyssey to discover the greatest unknown icon, and Lisbon Beat featuring DJ Nigga Fox. The screening will be followed by the Lisbon Beat: The After Party at Theatre Deli which will bring the sounds of Lisbon’s underground to Sheffield with DJ Rita Maia and special guests.
A focus on LGBTQI+ communities at the festival includes: live event Deep in Vogue presenting a colourful perspective on the vogueing subculture in Manchester plus in the Alternate Realities programme Another Dream, My Mother’s Kitchen, Through the Wardrobe, Panama Al Brown and Interactive Portraits: Trans People in Japan. In the Film programme titles such as Joanna Reposi Garibaldi’s Lemebel (UK premiere), Enrico Massi’s Shelter – Farewell to Eden (UK premiere), Theodore Collatos’ Queen of Lapa (International premiere), and in the Focus/Shapes That Move strand Flip the Script, a compilation screening.
In the Talks programme, the festival welcomes the popular documentarian and journalist Stacey Dooley who returns to Sheffield Doc/Fest for the BBC Interview to discuss her remarkable career as investigative documentarian and author; Rodney P, widely regarded as the godfather of British hip hop, will discuss his career both as a musician and documentary filmmaker, along with producer Jaimie D’Cruz (Acme Films), and music journalist Chantelle Fiddy; this year’s Desert Island Docs session will be hosted by Nick Hornby, bestselling author (Fever Pitch, High Fidelity and About a Boy) and Academy-nominated screenwriter (An Education, Wild, Brooklyn).
British writer and fashion blogger Chidera Eggerue (aka The Slumflower) will talk about her activism (including the 2017 online campaign #SaggyBoobsMatter and her 2018 book What a Time to Be Alone). Acclaimed director and screenwriter Paul Greengrass (22 July, The Bourne Ultimatum, Bloody Sunday) will be in conversation about his journey from TV documentaries to Hollywood features and his thoughts on the need to open up the film industry to less privileged and working class talent; a conversation continued in Breaking The Class Ceiling with acclaimed filmmakers Carol Morley and Paul Sng alongside BAFTA-nominated creative producer Mia Bays and BBC Three Controller Fiona Campbell will explore the continued lack of working class representation across the film and TV industry.
Festival competition winners across the Film and Alternate Realities programme will be announced at the Sheffield Doc/Fest Awards Ceremony at Crucible Studio on Tuesday 11 June 2019.
Sheffield Doc/Fest 2019 Film Programme:
Says Luke W. Moody, Director of Film Programming, Sheffield Doc/Fest, “On the big screen we take and show risk that inspires, share difference that connects, exhibit possibilities that propel. These true stories leak sweetness, brood on injustice and thump with rhythm of the present. Alongside celebrating masters of non-fiction cinema we place particular emphasis on new talent and images of youth: spirited energies, hearts and voices calling for change, for inclusion, for a better world that is theirs to inherit.”
Forty-two documentaries, 57% of which are directed by women will compete across the festival’s official competition categories including Grand Jury, International, Tim Hetherington, Art, New Talent, Short and Youth Awards.
Films competing for Sheffield Doc/Fest 2019 Grand Jury Award will be considered by jury members artist Jeremy Deller, producer Charlotte Cook and filmmaker Jenn Nkiru. Titles competing for the Grand Jury Award, which display excellent in style, substance and approach to documentary filmmaking, are: A Dog Called Money (UK premiere) in which award-winning photographer Seamus Murphy investigates the creative process behind British musician PJ Harvey’s album The Hope Six Demolition Project; For Sama (UK premiere), an intimate, visceral film about the female experience of war told as a message from a young Syrian mother Waad al-Kateab (co-directing with Edward Watts) to her daughter, documenting al-Kateab’s life through five years of the uprising in Aleppo as she falls in love, gets married and gives birth; in Midnight Traveler (UK premiere) Afghan filmmaker Hassan Fazili, his wife and two daughters capture on mobile phones the dramatic journey they embark on after Hassan receives a Taliban death sentence; in Mike Wallace Is Here (European premiere) Avi Belkin offers an engaging look at the life and career of legendary CBS 60 Minutes newsman Mike Wallace, showing how he redefined broadcast journalism with his hard-hitting interview style; in Midnight Family (UK premiere) by Luke Lorentzen, a father and his sons spend almost every night operating their private ambulance in Mexico City, having their priorities as first responders compromised due to financial pressures.
Films competing for the Sheffield Doc/Fest 2019 International Award will be considered by jury members director/producer Inadelso Cossa, documentary filmmaker Samara Chadwick and director of Kosovo’s DokuFest Nita Deda. Titles in competition for the International Award, which honors the best new international non-fiction film, challenging global perspectives and bringing audiences to the heart of the story, are: Kristof Bilsen’s MOTHER (World premiere) focusing on Pomm who takes care of Europeans with Alzheimer’s in Thailand while being separated from her own children; in The Amazing Johnathan Documentary (European premiere) filmmaker Ben Berman navigates the ‘smoke & mirrors’ world of the subversive magician John Edward Szeles AKA Amazing Johnathan, who in 2014 was given a year to live, but is still alive and kicking; in BLOCK (International premiere) by Victoria Alvares and Quentin Delaroche, Brazilian truckers on strike during a country-wide blockade in 2018 hope military intervention will bring a solution. But when the army finally arrives to end the crisis, nothing goes quite as expected; in The Black Tree (International premiere), co-directed by Máximo Ciambella and Damián Coluccio, the ancestral legends of the Argentine Qom community and their threatened present fuel the powerful, natural and austere images; in Earth (UK premiere), Austrian documentarian Nikolaus Geyrhalter (Homo Sapiens) observes people in mines, quarries and at large construction sites engaged in a constant struggle to take possession of the planet as several billion tons of earth are extracted annually; visually stunning Anthropocene: the Human Epoch (UK premiere), co-directed by Jennifer Baichwal (Manufactured Landscapes), Nicholas de Pencier and Edward Burtynsky, traverses the globe showing the devastating impact of our lives on Earth as scientists argue we are in a new epoch, the Anthropocene.
Films competing for the Sheffield Doc/Fest 2019 Tim Hetherington Award supported by Dogwoof will be considered by jury members BFI Head of Cinema and Events Gaylene Gould, filmmaker Faras Fayyed and founder of Modern Films Eve Gabereau. Titles in competition for the award which best reflects journalist Tim Hetherington’s legacy are: Raúl O. Paz Pastrana’s Border South (World premiere) showing two men who follow the migrant trail running from southern Mexico to the US border: Gustavo, a Nicaraguan in search of a better life, recovering from being shot by Mexican police, and anthropologist Jason who is examining the trail’s grisly remains; Colombian director Victoria Solano’s Sumercé (World premiere) follows agricultural educator Rosita, veteran activist Don Eduardo and rising political leader César Pachón as they fight their government over the country’s access to fresh water; Julien Elie’s Dark Suns (UK premiere) offers an exploration of the complex police and gangs network behind the disappearance of thousands of Mexican men and women since the 1970s; in Eliza Capai’s Your Turn (UK premiere), three students fight over the right to speak and to share their point of view regarding the largest student struggle of the century and the recent political context in Brazil; One Child Nation (UK premiere; Sundance 2019 U.S. Grand Jury Documentary Prize winner), co-directed by a first-time mother Nanfu Wang (Hooligan Sparrow) and Jialing Zhang, breaks open decades of silence on China’s one-child policy through interviews with both victims and instigators.
Films competing for the Sheffield Doc/Fest 2019 Art Award supported by MUBI will be considered by artist and filmmaker Deborah Stratman, producer Leah Giblin and creative director Amar Ediriwira. Titles in competition for the Art Award which champion bold new creative forms of non-fiction cinema and artist’s film are: Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese’s Mother, I Am Suffocating. This Is My Last Film About You (UK premiere), a symbolic social-political voyage of a society spiralling between religion, identity and collective memory; No Data Plan (UK Premiere), an unusual travelogue from filmmaker Miko Revereza, as an unnoticed passenger crossing America on an Amtrak train; filmed over 20 years, celebrated German experimental filmmaker Ute Aurand’s Rushing Green with Horses (UK premiere) is a collection of private moments, at home and at play with family and friends; The Hottest August (UK premiere), filmmaker Brett Story’s (The Prison in Twelve Landscapes) journey to all five boroughs of New York City in the blazing heat of August, 2017, asking people their thoughts and hopes for the future, following Donald Trump’s assumption of the presidential post; While We Are Here (UK premiere) exploring the relationship between two migrants in New York, Lebanese Lamis and Brazilian Wilson, delicately crafted by the filmmaking duo Clarissa Campolina and Luiz Pretti; and Fordlandia Malaise (UK premiere) from Susana de Sousa Dias, telling the past and the present of Fordlandia, the town founded by Henry Ford in the Amazon rainforest in 1928, through the stories of folklore and spirits told by the locals.
Films competing for the Sheffield Doc/Fest 2019 New Talent Award will be considered by Film London Talent executive Mathieu Ajan, screenwriter and director Shola Amoo (The Last Tree) and filmmaker/producer Chloe Gbai. Titles in competition for the New Talent Award which discovers and honours the future of documentary film, celebrating new talent and fresh perspectives are: Imogen Putler and Monika Baran’s Cool Daddio: The Second Youth of R. Stevie Moore (World premiere) a tragi-comic musical odyssey to discover the greatest unknown icon, a man who recorded over 400 albums in his bedroom and influenced a generation of musicians; About Love (World premiere), Archana Atul Phadke’s loving observation of shifting household dynamics and the female status in South Bombay, through the eyes of of women in her own family; Talking About Adultery (World premiere), Bara Jichova Tyson’s exploration of what it means to be in a committed relationship; a group of friends from Bucaramanga, the home of Colombia’s most violent football supporters, make a risky journey to an away match in Andres Torres’ The Fortress (International premiere); Ezequiel Yanco’s La Vida En Común (UK premiere) shot in an indigenous community in the north of Argentina where hunting is a rite of passage; Mariam Ghani’s What We Left Unfinished (UK premiere), the incredible true story of five unfinished films from the communist era in Afghanistan (1978-1991).
The Youth Jury Award award is selected by six of the UK’s most passionate young documentary lovers to celebrate non-fiction for young audiences: Timon Williams, Natalie Lorimer, Liam Taft, Jenna Mahale, Maeve Allen, Mo-Jai Mckeown. Films competing for the Sheffield Doc/Fest 2019 Youth Jury Award are: Baracoa (UK premiere), a closely observed blend of doc and fiction from Pablo Briones and The Moving Picture Boys, following two Cuban boys, timid Lionel and volatile Antuan, roaming through their dying industrial town in the final, lazy days of summer; in Jawline (UK premiere) Liza Mandelup charts 16-year old Austin’s strive for social media stardom with adolescent hopes to change the world; Bettina Perut and Ivan Osnovikoff’s Los Reyes (UK premiere) zooms in on the eponymous skatepark in Santiago de Chile through the eyes of two dogs; Elizabeth Sankey’s Romantic Comedy (UK premiere) examines how Hollywood dictates what love looks like and who deserves it, considering the rules of the game and how the formula has transformed over time; Jeanie Finlay’s Seahorse: The Dad Who Gave Birth (European premiere) documents one trans man’s pioneering quest to fulfil the age-old desire to start his own family; Pia Hellenthal’s boundary pushing performative documentary Searching Eva (UK premiere), looking for the real Eva behind the young Italian’s online-built life.
Films competing for the Sheffield Doc/Fest 2019 Short Award, will be considered by the writer and one third of Reel Good Film Club Grace Barber-Plentie, filmmaker, writer and curator Chris Osborn and director of Open City Docs Chloe Trayner. Films competing are: Garrett Bradley’s America (UK premiere); Jenn Nkiru’s BLACK TO TECHNO (UK premiere), Bassam Tariq’s Ghosts of Sugarland (European premiere), Stroma Cairns’ If You Knew (World premiere); Xavier Marrades’ Misericordia (European premiere); Wild Berries (International premiere) directed by Marianna Vas, Hedda Bednarszky and Romulus Balazs.
Sheffield Doc/Fest awards also include Audience Award in memory of Dr Clifford Shaw, recognising the film that receives the highest audience vote during the festival.
Notable world premieres playing outside Doc/Fest’s official competition include: Solidarity, British artist and filmmaker Lucy Parker’s debut feature (presented as Blacklist at the 2018 Sheffield Doc/Fest Rough/Ready programme) about blacklisting in the UK construction industry where thousands of workers were denied employment for involvement in trade union activism; Arthur Cary’s War in the Blood, following two British patients through ground-breaking ‘first-in-human’ trials for a treatment described as the beginning of the end of cancer, and asking how much hope can the doctors give their patients when they are effectively going into these trials as human guinea pigs; Olivier Magis’ Another Paradise which documents the struggle of a small community expelled from the Chagos Islands by the British authorities fifty years ago to return home; Claudia Marschal’s In our Paradise is a family saga recounting the trials and tribulations of two determined sisters as they battle between France and Bosnia towards their fantasised paradise; Danny, co-directed by Canadian artist Aaron Zeghers and Lewis Bennett, is a hilarious and heartbreaking found-footage film about disease, mental illness and the meaning of life based on videos made by Danny who started filming after being diagnosed with leukemia in 1993.
Additional world premieres include: Jaak Kilmi and Gints Grube’s My Father the Spy, the personal spy story of the Cold War investigated by Leva, a CIA and KGB double agent’s daughter; Myles Painter’s Sunrise with Sea Monsters which follows a wandering desktop hard drive in a quest to explore the new methods and technologies being developed to store and preserve human knowledge for the future.
The Doc/Fest film programme includes Doc/Vision, Doc/Expose, Doc/Rhythm, Doc/Love, Doc/Adventure, Doc/Think and New/Japan, New/UK, New/Signals, New/Hits, Focus/Shapes That Move programme strands.
New/Signals features the best in new broadcast, episodic and online films followed by conversations and includes: a new documentary series Once upon a time in Iraq in which multi BAFTA and Emmy Award winning director James Bluemel (Exodus) makes us consider how much the rise of Isis and Europe’s migration crisis can be attributed to Britain and America’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003; in The Unwanted: The Secret Windrush Files, historian David Olusoga (Black and British: A Forgotten History) opens secret government files to show how the Windrush scandal and the hostile environment for black British immigrants has been 70 years in the making; Watergate, from Academy-winning director Charles Ferguson, gives the full story of the conspiracy led by President Nixon and his White House staff and how they were brought to justice; Leah Borromeo’s Mortician of Manila, a grim and compelling journey through the eyes of an undertaker in the Philippines shaped by president Rodrigo Duterte’s lethal drug war.
New wave of UK filmmakers and extraordinary contemporary UK stories feature in the New/UK strand showcasing five world premieres of short documentaries: Jobie Nam’s Fast Talk tells the story of Steve Woodmore from Kent, offering a fascinating look at the strange phenomenon of competitive fast-talking in the late 1980s; Alice Aedy’s Disconnected plays anonymous voicemails that young people left for the Minister for Loneliness against images of British cities and faces illuminated by smartphones; in Noemi Varga’s And It Was The Same With My Son, a mother shares her journey of picking up the pieces after she had lost her child to radicalisation. Two projects supported by Doc Society are Lanre Malaolu’s The Circle, produced by Elizabeth M. E. Benjamin, a bold and lyrical portrait of two young brothers living on a London council estate whose story and the challenges they face are embodied through vivid movement sequences; Dorothy Allen-Pickard’s The Masses, produced by Aleksandra Bilic, is a visceral and empathetic portrayal of three neighbours’ devotion to their respective religions: Islam, Christianity and football.
Sheffield Doc/Fest 2019 country focus strand, New/Japan, supported by Daiwa Foundation and Sasakawa Foundation, showcases a new wave of stories and images from Japanese filmmakers, from the intimate and familial lens to the abstract and subversive. In artist-filmmaker Makino Takashi’s practice the abstract is drawn out of the real through the layering of images, flickers of light and the perpetual movement of dots and grains, as shown in Memento Stella (UK premiere), which combines up to 200 layers at any one time, redefining screen space and feels deeper the closer audiences focus their eyes. Shot by Kazuhiro Soda, Markus Nornes and Terri Sarris against the backdrop of the 2016 election and the rise of Donald Trump, The Big House (UK premiere) presents a microcosm of America at this Michigan stadium, by showing everything but the game. In Norie (UK premiere) artist/filmmaker Yuki Kawamura embarks on a road-trip with his father to talk to the people who knew his late mother. Science fiction and desire collide when an American researcher meets a Japanese translator in A Tiny Place Is Hard to Touch (UK premiere) directed by artist-filmmaker Shelly Silver.
Other shorts in New/Japan are: Chiemi Shimada’s Chiyo (World premiere), warm and sensuous 16mm portrait of her grandmother, Chiyo, sharing dreams and reality from her home in the Japanese suburbs; Rei Hayama’s The Pearl of Tailorbird (World premiere), originally a multi sound and visual installation, these short-form videos are anchored by a haunting soundscape in which Hayama imitates the speech of various local birds in her own voice; Mountain Plain Mountain (UK premiere), a behind-the-scenes observation of Ban’ei, a rare kind of draft horse race that takes place only in Obihiro, Japan, directed by Yu Araki and Daniel Jacoby.
This year’s retrospective Focus/Shapes That Move brings to the foreground the collaborative power of those who have contributed to shaping new futures in Britain using the medium of cinema, turning the act of filmmaking into an act of solidarity. Featuring the intersectional work of feminist film collectives in Britain from the 1970s to contemporary, including WiTCH, Sheffield Film Co-op, Leeds Animation Workshop and Black Women’s Media Project, the strand includes six film programmes: Another Mother, presenting a complex view of what it means to be a woman, a parent, and a human being; A British State of Being, a selection of films that tug at some of the frayed edges of the tapestry of nationality; Flip The Script, the shorts that both celebrate and galvanise the power of the LGBTQI+ community to interrupt binaries, disrupt the strictures of the status quo, and liberate the world from its own constraints; Operate Heavy Machinery, a selection of films celebrating the women of the North and their mobilisation, resilience and innovation in the world of work; Praise the Lorde, exploring American writer and feminist activist Audre Lorde’s influence in Britain, serving as a primer for those who have yet to be introduced to her brilliance and a homage for those who have; Rebel Films for Girls, a selection of films for young people co-presented with with Art School for Rebel Girls, an ongoing arts project by Leeds gallery Pavilion fostering confidence, creativity and collaboration between young women.
Also included in the strand is a session Shapes that Move: Archiving the Films of Feminist Collectives chaired by Dr Suay Ozkula (Sheffield University) with the panelists Terry Wragg (Leeds Animation Workshop), Chrissie Stanfield (Sheffield Film Co-op), Rehana Zaman (Cinenova) and Campbell X (Club des Femmes) and the afterparty, curated by Jade Jackman and Aleksandra Bilic, featuring a live stream DJ set by Nesa Azadikhah (Deep House Tehran), a live DJ set by Nadine Artois (Pxssy Palace) and BEARCAT represented by DISCWOMAN and a unisex nail bar.
Alternate Realities Programme
Says Dan Tucker, Alternate Realities Curator, Sheffield Doc/Fest,“This year the Alternate Realities programme returns with a focus on our sensibilities; our ability to interpret, understand and appreciate the world of the aesthetic and the experiential. New ways of seeing, new ways of hearing and new ways of participating await audiences in the unique immersive and interactive experiences within our exhibition. With 50% of the projects made or co-created by women and an all women line up of key speakers in the Summit we are working alongside a larger number of women artists than ever before”.
At Site Gallery eight projects competing for the Alternate Realities Best Digital Experience Award, which recognises the best experiential use of digital technology to create a participatory, immersive, or interactive journey through a non-fiction story or societal commentary, will be exhibited: VR installation Another Dream created by Tamara Shogolu, gripping story of an Egyptian lesbian couple who, facing a post-revolution backlash against their community, must choose between love and home; Clit Moi, interactive documentary game created by Loïc Darses that demystifies female sexual satisfaction; interactive installation Echo from Georgie Pinn and Kendyl Rossi inviting audiences to step into the shoes of another through a virtual mirror, select a shared story and discover layers of yourself echoed in another; VR installation Aftermath VR: Euromaidan from Alexey Furman, taking audiences into the heart of the 2014 Ukrainian revolution, the Independence Square in Kiev where on 20 February 2014 Ukrainian government police opened fire against protesters; Forest, created by Kelsey Boncato and Daniel Oldham, a VR installation offering meditative experience in a hand-drawn landscape of ancient bristlecone pine trees, sculpted organic matter and transmuted earthy-electro music; this year’s Sheffield Doc/Fest commission, supported by Arts Council England, Site Gallery and British Council and MUTEK, Spectre created by artist-researchers Barnaby Francis (aka Bill Posters) and Dr Daniel Howe, a cautionary tale of computational propaganda, technology and democracy, curated by an algorithm and powered by personal data; Through the Wardrobe, an AR installation created by Rob Eagle, inviting audiences to explore the belongings of others and play with gender expression; based on the Chinese idiom, To Call a Horse a Deer game using language, hand-eye coordination and acts of complicity, created by Ip Yuk-Yiu.
Also exhibiting at Site Gallery are: Algorithmic Perfumery created by Frederik Duerinck, using personal data to train an AI system that adapts and learns from every exchange, this installation makes an original scent for every visitor; Apparatum created by Krzysztof Cybulski, Krzysztof Goliński and Jakub Koźniewski, an audio installation inspired by the Polish radio experimental studio employing analogue sound generators, based on magnetic tape and optical components, to create a unique score for visitors who play with its digital interface; VR installation Common Ground from Darren Emerson, winner of the Doc/Fest Alternate Realities commission (2016) and Ashley Cowan, about the history and legacy of the Aylesbury Estate, the largest housing estate in Europe. Utilising 360° video, photogrammetry, 3D modelling, archive and interactive design; Interactive Portraits: trans people in Japan, a game created by Zoyander Street, as playful representation of transgender people from Japan, using the nostalgic style of early gaming to create a connection with its contributors; My Mother’s Kitchen, an interactive documentary created by Maeve Marsden, Tea Uglow and Olivia Rosenman, with the stories of eight LGBTQI+ individuals as they relate intimate memories of their mother’s kitchens, filled with joy and comfort mixed with inequality and hardship; Panama Al Brown: A Mysterious Force, a documentary comic designed for mobile use, created by Camille Duvelleroy, the story of a gay black Panamanian who became the world’s first Hispanic World Boxing Champion at the age of 26 and his amazing life beyond the sport.
At the VR Cinema at Hallam Performance Lab seven 360° projects competing for the Alternate Realities Best Digital Narrative Award, which honours the best use of narrative and story within a digital context conveying a powerful message focused on non-fiction or with non-nonfiction roots or research as its starting point will be exhibited: 4 Feet: Blind Date, created by Maria Belen Poncio, the story of Juana, an 18-year-old woman in a wheelchair, anxious to explore her sexuality, overcoming her fears, doubts, and an inaccessible city to meet ‘Felipe’ for a blind date; 256 hours of audio archives bring back to life the political battle waged by Mandela and his seven co-defendants, looking at one of them in particular, Accused Number 2: Walter Sisulu created by Gilles Porte and Nicolas Champeaux; The Atomic Tree created by Adam Loften and Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee journey into the memories of a 400-year-old Japanese white pine bonsai that witnessed and survived the atomic blast in Hiroshima; music and documentary collide in John Lynch’s Crackle Pop, an immersive representation of the perceptual phenomenon of synaesthesia, based on the real life experience of synesthetes listening to the music of Paul Russell’s post-punk orchestra, Human Pyramids; Viktorija Mickute’s The Curse of Palm Oil, looking at the rampant deforestation, displacement and conflict caused by Asia’s flourishing palm oil industry, unveiling the appalling social and ecological impact on Malaysian tribal communities; inspired by Malala Yousafzai’s programme to change the lives of the 130 million girls who miss out on school, Sadah Espii Proctor’s Girl Icon shares Rani’s journey to gain an education for herself and the other girls in her community; Nyasha Kadandara’s Le Lac is a journey through change and rupture, as told by the poetic voice of Lake Chad herself, depended on by millions, now shrunk to a tenth of her former self.
Also exhibiting at Hallam Performance Lab, as part of this year’s VR Cinema, where public and delegates can immerse themselves in the world of 360° video are: Bauhaus in Bavaria created by Andrea Zimmermann and Stefan Goeppel, spotlights the Rosenthal factory buildings, the last architectural masterpieces of the Bauhaus icon Walter Gropius; in The Dreams of Henri Rousseau Nicolas Autheman transforms the surreal and sublime greenhouse of the Jardin des Plantes in Paris to reveal the secrets of the painter Henri Rousseau; Vikas Pandey’s Hand in Hand: A Story of Faith and Friendship in Kumbh is a spiritual trip through the largest gathering of people on Earth, in India’s Kumbh Mela, so mammoth it can be seen from space; Potato Dreams, created by Wes Hurley and Nathan Miller, tells the story of Little Potato’s journey growing up gay in the Soviet Union and his mother’s struggles to create a better life for them both by becoming a mail-order bride to travel to America; Traveling While Black created by Roger Ross Williams, Felix Lajeunesse, Paul Raphael and Ayesha Nadarajah, a detailed overview into the long history of constrained movement for black Americans and the creation of safe places in communities.
Members of the public can choose their favourite project by voting in Alternate Realities Audience Award, supported by REWIND.