From Saturday 7th June to Thursday 12th June, Sheffield Doc/Fest will screen new work by Martin Scorsese, Penny Woolcock, Kim Longinotto, Peter De Rome, Marshall Curry, Alex Gibney and will recognise Laura Poitras with the Inspiration Award. The festival welcomes Grayson Perry, Sue Perkins, John Pilger, Jon Snow, and Chair of Arts Council England Peter Bazalgette to talk about their varied careers in film and TV documentary, as well as music legends Brian Eno and Kevin Rowland, artist Jeremy Deller and astronaut Captain Eugene Cernan.
On Saturday 7th June the festival kicks off with three must-see events: at City Hall the European premiere of Florian Habicht’s PULP: A FILM ABOUT LIFE, DEATH & SUPERMARKETS attended by band-members Jarvis Cocker, Nick Banks, Candida Doyle, Steve Mackey and Mark Webber; at the Devil’s Arse cavern Thomas Balmes’ award-winning HAPPINESS will transport the audience to a tiny mountain village in a remote corner Bhutan which is finally getting electricity and television; and at the Sheffield Showroom Rehad Desai’s heavy-hitting MINERS SHOT DOWN about the 2012 strike in South Africa which led to the murder of 34 miners by the police in a bid to break the strike will launch the South African focus.
Also screening are the World Premiere of UNEARTHED in which director Jolynn Minnaar journeys to the heart of the fracking industry which threatens an impoverished South African region, SHIELD AND SPEAR in which Peter Ringbom follows some of South Africa’s artists exploring what it means to live and work in the new democracy, and NELSON MANDELA: THE MYTH & ME a personal odyssey for filmmaker Khalo Matabane investigating Nelson Mandela’s legacy and the meaning of freedom, reconciliation and forgiveness.
Also among the 21 World Premieres at this year’s festival are: A 50 YEAR ARGUMENT, Martin Scorsese and David Tedeschi’s new film which rides the waves of literary, political, and cultural history as charted by The New York Review of Books, America’s leading journal of ideas for over 50 years; STOP AT NOTHING: THE LANCE ARMSTRONG STORY, in which Alex Holmes tracks down some of Lance Armstrong’s closest cohorts and sworn enemies to uncover the biggest fraud in sport history; space biography THE LAST MAN ON THE MOON, with former astronaut Captain Eugene Cernan attending the festival; ATTACKING THE DEVIL: HAROLD EVANS AND THE LAST NAZI WAR CRIME which tells the story of Sir Harold Evans’ decade long fight for justice for victims of Thalidomide drug poisoning, with Harold Evans appearing at the festival; Adrian McCarthy’s ROUGH RIDER which tackles the controversial topic of drug use within the cycling community, attended by sports journalist Paul Kimage; green doc ECOCIDE- VOICES FROM PARADISE investigating the devastating effects the 2010 BP oil spill has had on the Gulf ecosystem; ONE ROGUE REPORTER written and directed by disillusioned tabloid reporter Rich Peppiatt who will attend the festival to present this merciless dissection of his former trade; and THE GIRL WHO TALKED TO DOLPHINS, the shocking story of one of science’s most audacious interspecies experiments.
Festival audiences will also have the chance to attend the World Premiere of Kim Longinotto’s new film LOVE IS ALL on Wednesday 14th June at Chatsworth. Set to a stunning soundtrack by Richard Hawley, this new BBC NORTH, BBC STORYVILLE and BFI commission, produced by Crossover and Lone Star with BFI archive footage, explores a century of love and courtship on screen. From cinema’s very first kisses, through the disruption of war to the birth of youth culture, gay liberation and free love, we follow courting couples flirting at tea dances, kissing in the back of the movies, shacking up and fighting for the right to love.
Music docs and live music are firmly established as part of the Doc/Fest DNA and this year will see more than a dozen musical moments. The festival will close on 12th June at The Crucible with Saint Etienne giving a world premiere live performance of their original soundtrack to Paul Kelly’s HOW WE USED TO LIVE. Indie pop duo Summer Camp will play live for the first time for the UK Premiere of Charlie Lyne’s BEYOND CLUELESS which unravels the 1990’s high school movie genre; British Sea Power are back with Robert Flaherty’s MAN OF ARAN and Penny Woolcock’s FROM THE SEA TO THE LAND BEYOND; Goldfrapp will play a live soundtrack to Victor Sjöström’s 1924 silent classic HE WHO GETS SLAPPED starring the great silent film actor Lon Chaney; and playing outside the festival as a special treat for families, Sean O’Hagan’s High Llamas will play live to original FELIX THE CAT animated shorts.
Highlight music docs include Eric Green’s BEAUTIFUL NOISE about Cocteau Twins, The Jesus and Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine; NOWHERE IS HOME sees directors Kieran Evans and Paul Kelly (Finisterre) reunite to film the final nights of Dexys London residency last year, with band-members Kevin Rowland, Jim Paterson and Paul Kelly making an appearance; and in FINDING FELA Alex Gibney looks back at Fela Kuti’s legacy, weaving together a multi-layered narrative with rare footage, star-studded interviews and a musical adaptation, featuring live performance of Antibalas and attended by Fela’s former manager Rikki Stein.
The INTERACTIVE elements of Doc/Fest span across the festival with films, games and sessions taking place in several Sheffield venues. The brand new Interactive Exhibition Space in the Millennium Galleries will feature 15 docs to play, touch and experience across multiple devices from tablets to Oculus Rift Virtual Reality headsets. The Interactive Exhibition will be open until late every night to allow time for festival goers to explore after busy days of sessions and screenings. Six of these interactive docs are shortlisted for the Innovation Award: animated web doc IRANORAMA which goes to the heart of Iranian society little known outside its borders; innovative National Geographic produced KILLING KENNEDY; Kat Cizek’s New York Times Op-Doc A SHORT HISTORY OF THE HIGHRISE which looks at 2,500 years of vertical living; Brenda Longfellow, Glenn Richards and Helios Design Labs OFFSHORE which explores the dark waters of the global offshore oil industry in the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion; Samuel Bollendorff and Olivia Colo’s shocking BURN OUT which investigates the increasing number of public suicides in France; and LAST HIJACK INTERACTIVE, a true tale of survival in Somalia told from the pirate’s perspective. Nonny de la Pena uses 3D technology to present journalism in a new immersive way with a new work presented in the SIF space; and Anagram launch their much anticipated DOOR IN TO THE DARK – a blindfolded journey into the psychology of navigation. Out on the streets Blast Theory’s I’D HIDE YOU offers an online, interactive game of stealth and cunning, played through the eyes and bodies of runners.
On the 8th and 9th June British performer Nathan Penlington brings the brilliant CHOOSE YOUR OWN DOCUMENTARY live to the Crucible Studio; an unmissable story of obsession that the audience can steer using remote controls. Acclaimed “live storytelling” documentarian Sam Green comes to Sheffield with THE MEASURE OF ALL THINGS, a playful and beautifully poetic meditation on humanity, loosely inspired by the Guinness World Records book series.
ART will run throughout Doc/Fest as installations, in films, and in sessions. The Millennium Gallery will feature two installations: Vicki Bennett’s CONSEQUENCES which explores the wondrous and catastrophic nature of cause and effect and the concept of the copy and the original by placing subject matter side by side to construct a new narrative, and Doc/Fest’s first original commission for a gallery exhibit is a piece from South Korea-based Heavy Industries curiously titled MY LIFE AS A BLOODY SHEFFIELD BUTTER KNIFE, funded by Arts Council England. And AGNES GOES LIVE will be in Sheffield after evolving within the Serpentine Gallery’s website and will be taking questions from Ben Vickers, Curator of Digital at the Serpentine Galleries and members of the audience. In the film programme in the Habit of Art strand includes ALASDAIR GRAY: A LIFE IN PROGRESS, a film by Kevin Cameron that provides an intimate portrait of Scottish writer and artist Alasdair Gray. Nancy Kates’ documentary features the life of author, critic and activist Susan Sontag. REGARDING SUSAN SONTAG shows a writer who defied the high-brow, patriarchal expectations of traditional academia and embraced the New York City’s nocturnal art scene in the 1960s. Marina Abramovic has created a Random Act Documentary DANGEROUS GAMES looking at children in war and Academy Award nominated documentary maker Lucy Walker directs DAVID HOCKNEY IN THE NOW, a short about vivacious and prolific artist David Hockney.
In sessions controversial artist Grayson Perry will talk about his passion for documentary and offer some revealing insights in to his creative process at Sheffield City Hall; and Peter Bazalgette, Chair of Arts Council England, will be in conversation with Head of Film4.0 Anna Higgs about the future for interactive and digital arts.
Other highlight sessions include Jon Snow who will discuss his extensive career in television and share some highlights with the audience at the Crucible; Sue Perkins talking about the making of THE GREAT BRITISH BAKE-OFF; Sundance award-winner Ondi Timoner discussing the rapidly shifting entertainment industry landscape alongside a screening of 3 short films: OBEY THE ARTIST, AMANDA F-ING PALMER ON THE ROCKS and RUSSELL BRANDS THE BIRD in A TOTAL DISRUPTION, and renowned filmmaker and journalist John Pilger in conversation, followed by a screening of his new work UTOPIA which investigates ostracism and racism in the most disadvantaged Aboriginal area in Australia.
SEX, taboos and discovery are at the heart of this year’s REVOLUTION OF CONSCIOUSNESS strand, with films including GOODBYE GAULEY MOUNTAIN: AN ECOSEXUAL LOVE STORY, a story of love and anti-mountain top removal activism, and Sunny Bergman’s globe-trotting SLUT PHOBIA? which conducts interviews with members of the public in a travelling tent, asking if there is something array with our conception of female sexuality. Sessions and workshops continue the consciousness revolution as Barbara Carrellas, author of Ecstasy is Necessary, and Annie Sprinkle, porn star/performance artist, bring their unique participatory workshop ECSTASY, BREATHING AND THE CREATIVE PROCESS to Doc/Fest, teaching techniques to aid creative processes and sharing their thoughts and discoveries on ecstatic energy as a tool to change the world; Carrellas will also present MAKING IT SEXY – NEW WAYS OF UNLOCKING CREATIVE POTENTIAL an innovative investigation of how Tantric and Taoist sex techniques can have benefits beyond the bedroom and into the workplace.
This year’s QUEER strand includes THE CASE AGAINST 8 which traces the fight against Proposition 8, taking us behind the scenes of one of the most significant civil rights trials in America’s history, and Ethan Reid’s x-rated portrait of a ground breaking erotic filmmaker, PETER DE ROME GRANDFATHER OF GAY PORN which will enjoy its World Premiere at Doc/Fest alongside screenings of some of Peter de Rome’s work, presented by the 90-year-old director himself.
The BEST OF BRITISH film strand is exceptionally strong with a diverse range of film screenings including: Penny Woolcock’s latest doc GOING TO THE DOGS which focuses on the criminal subculture of the dog fighting world and man’s conflicted relationship with dogs; a tragic look at Britain’s current foodbank situation in the world premiere of KIDS ON THE BREADLINE; and the World Premiere of MR SOMEBODY which tells the story of Huddersfield’s local eccentric Jake Mangle-Wurzel, and welcomes the man himself to the festival.
Showcasing challenging political films, Doc/Fest’s RESISTANCE strand examines conflicts and protests in the UK and abroad with World Premieres of WE ARE MANY, which tells the story of the largest anti-war march in history, featuring a cast including Damon Albarn, Richard Branson, Danny Glover, and Hans Blix, and music by Simon Russell and Brian Eno, the latter of whom will be in attendance; and STILL THE ENEMY WITHIN, a moving examination of the 1984 miners’ strike told through archive footage and interviews with those who fought back. Continuing a focus on the miners’ strike, 30 years since it happened, Jeremy Deller will visit the festival to present his 2011 film BATTLE OF ORGREAVE which stages a powerful reenactment of a violent confrontation that took place at Orgreave coking plant at the height of the strikes. Also taking up the theme of Resistance, RETURN TO HOMS follows Syrian rebel Abdul Basset and his fearless crew over a two-year period which saw Homs destroyed by violence; and seven-part autobiographic film PROFESSION: DOCUMENTARIST featuring 7 independent Iranian female documentary film makers – Shirin Barghnavard, Firouzeh Khosrovani, Farhnaz Sharifi, Mina Keshavarz, Sepideh Abtahi, Sahar Salahshoor and Nahid Rezaei – talking about their concerns, challenges and personal and professional lives.
GLOBAL ENCOUNTERS strand features fascinating stories brought back from across the globe including a glimpse into the high-adrenaline world of women’s roller derby in DERBY CRAZY LOVE, following Montreal team ‘New Skids on the Block’ as they prepare for their biggest battle yet; Marshall Curry’s POINT AND SHOOT capturing an adventure travel documentary which became a harrowing war experience; documentary filmmaker and wedding photographer Doug Block combines the two in 112 WEDDINGS, revisiting some of the couples for whom he made wedding videos, finding both happiness and tragedy; THE SEARCH FOR WENG WENG documenting Andrew Leavold’s seven year search for dwarf Filipino super-star Weng Weng, once the Philippines biggest cultural export; and VISITORS, a striking visual poem exploring ideas of humanity and nature, directed by Godfrey Reggio (Koyaanisqatsi) in association with Steven Soderbergh and set to a mesmerising score by Philip Glass.
This year’s awards ceremony hosted by Jeremy Hardy will take place on Thursday 12 June at 11.30am at Sheffield Showrooms. With awards including:
In competition for the Special Jury Prize are: LIFE ITSELF, a documentary portrait of late film-critic Roger Ebert based on his memoir of the same name; Jesse Moss’ Sundance award-winning THE OVERNIGHTERS telling the story of a church pastor facing backlash for allowing homeless men refuge in his church; ALL THIS MAYHEM which charts the rise and fall of ex-pro-skateboarding brothers Ben and Tas Pappas – directed by Eddie Martin who used to skate with the brothers and accompanied by an appearance from Tas Pappas; and IN THE SHADOW OF WAR, a powerful exploration of 4 young people’s struggle to rebuild broken relationships and heal mental and physical scars 20 years on from war in Bosnia Herzegovia; NON FICTION DIARY which examines the momentous social and political changes that beset the country in the 1990s via the first serial murder case in the country’s history; Goran Olsson’s CONCERNING VIOLENCE, combining extraordinary archive footage depicting the most daring moments in struggles for liberation around the world with passages from Franz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth, narrated by singer Lauryn Hill; and Rory Kennedy’s re-examination of the final chaotic weeks that brought the Vietnam war to a close in LAST DAYS IN VIETNAM, alongside, NIGHT WILL FALL and ATTACKING THE DEVIL: HAROLD EVANS AND THE LAST NAZI WAR CRIME.
The Green Jury will deliberate between nominees A DANGEROUS GAME, Anthony Baxter’s follow-up to his 2011 documentary YOU’VE BEEN TRUMPED, in which he continues to challenge Donald Trump’s construction of a luxury golf course on coast of Aberdeen; gripping true-crime tale THE GALAPOGOS AFFAIR: SATAN CAME TO EDEN which tells the story of Galapogos Island settlers in the 1930s through home movie footage, testimonies of present-day islanders and a star-studded voice cast; and climate-change doc LAST CALL which investigates the writing of 1972 book The Limits to Growth which warned that global growth was not environmentally sustainable and asks why it went ignored.
Five films have been selected for consideration by the 2014 Youth Jury; Brian Knappenberger’s gripping biography of THE INTERNET’S OWN BOY – THE STORY OF AARON SWARTZ; the inspiring Iran-based SEPIDEH about a teenage stargazer; WEB JUNKIE which explains how China came to be the first country to officially recognise internet addiction as a clinical disorder; French doc THE SCHOOL OF BABEL; and opening night film HAPPINESS.
2014 sees Sheffield Doc/Fest being recognised by the Academy Awards for the first time as an Oscar-qualifying festival in the category of Short Doc. The documentary short that wins in this year’s Doc/Fest short film category will go on to qualify for the 2015 Academy Awards.
In keeping with Sheffield’s current penchant for cycling – as Tour de Cinema pedals along towards the Grand Départ in July – Doc/Fest has a new film strand: HELL ON WHEELS. Alongside the World Premiere of STOP AT NOTHING: THE LANCE ARMSTRONG STORY, films will include Alex Gibney’s doc THE ARMSTRONG LIE and GREG LEMOND – SLAYING THE BADGER, a film by John Dower examining the fierce rivalries within the cycling world.
Each year Sheffield Doc/Fest selects a filmmaker to focus on and this year sees a retrospective of the works of Agnès Varda. The Greek-French film director and professor is internationally renowned for her filmmaking, photography and art installations which often provide social commentary within an experimental style. Four films have been chosen to represent Varda’s work, THE GLEANERS AND I, THE BEACHES OF AGNES, VAGABOND and CLEO FROM 5 TO 7.
Also looking back through the sands of cinema is Films on Film, a strand pairing documentary explorations with the feature films they examine, including Sidney Lumet’s 1975 DOG DAY AFTERNOON and THE DOG, about the real man who inspired Al Pacino’s character; two 1944 propaganda films made by Alfred Hitchcock for the British Ministry of Information – BON VOYAGE and AVENTURE MALGACHE – alongside NIGHT WILL FALL which retraces the story of another unfinished propaganda film which for decades was known as ‘the missing Hitchcock’. Parallel to the screening of this documentary, the Forum strand will present the World Premiere of the missing film, which has been reconstructed by the Imperial War Museum in London.
And finally, Doc/Fest will also honour late Canadian documentary filmmaker and friend of the festival, Peter Wintonick by screening his award-winning, provocative portrait of linguist, intellectual and political activist Noam Chomsky from 1992 MANUFACTURING CONSENT: NOAM CHOMSKY AND THE MEDIA, and PILGRIMAGE which touchingly documents an around-the-world trip with his filmmaking daughter Mira-Burt Wintonick, exploring the future of documentary film and image-making. The festival will also introduce a new award, The Peter Wintonick Award which will celebrate activist filmmaking. The winning film will be announced at the Awards Ceremony on Thursday 12th June.