This year, Sheffield Doc/Fest 2019 presents an international ensemble of Films, Live Events and Alternate Realities experiences and installations focusing on LGBTQI+ communities and individuals.
Among the highlights are Amy Watson and Dennis Keighron-Foster’s Deep in Vogue (UK 2018), a documentary presenting a colorful perspective on the vogueing subculture in Manchester. Comprising interviews, archive, and behind the scenes footage, this vibrant film provides a first-hand account of the glamour and the confidence that a thrilling vogue ball gives to the local LGBTQI+ community.
Acclaimed British director Jeanie Finlay’s new film Seahorse (European premiere; UK 2019), competing for Youth Jury Award, will be presented as a Spotlight screening, followed by extended conversation between the director and the film’s subject Freddy McConnell, trans man who gave birth to his child. The strand Focus/Shapes That Move, showcasing the work of British feminist film collectives, includes a program Flip the Script which turns normative gender and sexuality on its head with short docs from Pratibha Parmar, Leeds Animation Workshop and Campbell X.
Alternate Realities, the festival’s digital art exhibition and VR Cinema showcasing powerful interactive narratives and immersive experiences, includes First International Exhibition of Through the Wardrobe, Rob Eagle’s Augmented Reality installation inviting audiences to explore the belongings of others and play with gender expression, and First International Exhibition of Tamara Shogolu’s Another Dream, a VR installation in which an Egyptian lesbian couple, facing a post-revolution backlash against their community, must choose between love and home. Both projects are in competition for Alternate Realities Best Digital Experience Award. The line-up also features First Worldwide Exhibition of My Mother’s Kitchen, aninteractive documentary conceived by Maeve Marsden, Tea Uglow and Olivia Rosenman, featuring the stories of eight LGBTQI+ individuals as they relay intimate memories of their mother’s kitchens, filled with joy and comfort mixed with inequality and hardship. Tea Uglow, a creative director at Google’s Creative Labin Sydney, will open the Alternate Realities Summit—a day of talks, presentations, panels and performances from world-leading interactive storytellers—on Sunday 9 June with a talk about designing stories for the brain. Alternate Realities programme is supported by Arts Council England.
Says Melanie Iredale, Interim Director, Sheffield Doc/Fest, “We are so proud as always to bring such a broad spectrum of LGBTQI+ stories to Sheffield Doc/Fest. Films, live events and projects in the program celebrate queer bodies through dance, rejoice in multiple identities, and invite audiences to play with gender expression through clothing. Some works explore the political—persecution, activism, the fight for equality—and others the personal: love and heartbreak, pregnancy and birth. Within the LGBTQI+ documentaries and Alternate Realities projects at Doc/Fest you will find those which take great risk in storytelling and those which experiment with form, whether through film, shorts, live performance, interactive games, augmented reality, virtual reality or motion comic. Come watch, play, and vogue.”
Lemebel (UK premiere, Chile 2019, 96 min; Joanna Reposi Garibaldi)
Writer, visual artist and pioneer of the queer movement in Latin America, Pedro Lemebel shook up conservative Chilean society during Pinochet’s dictatorship in the 1980s. Body, blood and fire were protagonists in his work that he attempted to perpetuate in the last eight years of his life in a film he was never able to see finished. In an intimate and poetic journey through his risky performances dealing with homosexuality and human rights, the film portrays a culmination of yearning for immortality.
Shelter – Farewell to Eden (UK premiere, Italy 2019, 81 min; Enrico Massi)
Pepsi is a transgender militant born in the Philippines looking for a new identity in Europe, crossing boundaries in search of gender equality, citizenship and recognition as a human being.
Queen of Lapa (International premiere, Brazil and US 2019, 73 min; Theodore Collatos, Carolina Monnerat)
A proud transgender sex worker since the age of eleven, Luana Muniz, now 59, shapes a new reality in her “hostel” by housing a new generation of trans sex workers in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
XY Chelsea (UK and USA 2019, 92 min; Tim Travers Hawkins)
In 2010, Chelsea Manning uploaded thousands of documents to WikiLeaks revealing U.S soldiers targeting civilians in Iraq. Obama’s last act in office was to free her from a lifetime prison sentence. XY Chelsea follows Manning’s release in 2017; her complicated adjustment to an unexpected freedom and public obligations, and the impact of the past and present on her journey ahead.
After the Silence (UK premiere, Belgium 2018, 23 min; Sonam Larcin)
David suffered a homophobic attack so was forced to leave his country and his love behind. Opening up about his sexuality is new territory, as is being on safe ground.
Father Figure (International premiere, Netherlands 2019, 25 min; Bibi Faldalla)
“Being black and gay means having two strikes against you,” says vogue dancer Guilliano. In this impressionistic sense of dual identities, he shares the roles he juggles and prejudices he faces. As the founder of Kiki House in Rotterdam, voguing galvanised his self-acceptance.
Interactive Portraits: Trans People in Japan (Zoyander Street)
A game created as playful representation of transgender people from Japan, using the nostalgic style of early gaming to create a connection with its contributors.
Potato Dreams (First UK Exhibition; Wes Hurley and Nathan Miller)
VR project that 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.
Panama Al Brown: A Mysterious Force (First UK Exhibition; Camille Duvelleroy)
Documentary ‘motion comic’ designed for mobile use tells the story of Alfonso Teofilo Brown, 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.