Sheffield Doc Fest has been operating for over twenty years and in that time has established itself as the UK’s leading festival for documentary and non-fiction film. It has helped some of the most successful documentaries of recent years find audiences in Britain, such as Joshua Oppenheimer’s Oscar-winning The Act of Killing (2012), which found funding through ‘Meetmarket,’ an industry event which gives film-makers the opportunity to pitch their work to distributors and broadcasters.
The lineup for this year’s festival is packed with over 150 films from around the world, far too many to see in the space of the six days that the festival runs. However, those who buy a full pass are also granted access to every film through Sheffield Doc Player, an online on demand platform which is active in the weeks after the festival.
The festival opens with Dmitrii Kalashnikov’s The Road Movie (2016), a film which compiles the incredible moments captured on dashcams in his native Russia. It is likely to be a thrilling start to a busy schedule. Elsewhere, Charlie Lyne presents his new short film, Fish Story (2017), which should be more entertaining than paint drying, and Laura Poitras premieres her eagerly anticipated documentary about Julian Assange, Risk (2016), followed by a live Q&A.
Unsurprisingly, the current political climate in the UK has inspired a number of films at this year’s festival, which starts the day after the country votes to elect their next Prime Minister. Timothy George Kelly travelled the length of Britain to interview its citizens for his post-referendum state-of-the-nation film Brexitannia (2017). Jo Cox: Death of an MP (2017) by Toby Paton details the circumstances around the murder of the British MP in 2016, and in Pride In Rags (2017) Tom Whitaker explores the growing anti-Muslim prejudice in the town of Dewsbury, Yorkshire.
Some retrospectives and classic films will also be screened. The collaborative protest film Far From Vietnam (1967) brought together renowned film-makers such as Jean-Luc Godard and Alan Renais in protest at the war in Vietnam. Their footage was edited by Chris Marker. Around India With a Movie Camera is a presentation of archive film from pre-independence India, a project that will also be available to view on the BFI Player as part of its year-long India on Film programme.
The only downside of Sheffield Doc Fest is that it’s difficult narrowing down the choices of films to a select few. The full lineup can be found here, and there will certainly be something for all tastes.
The festival runs from 9th-14th June at locations around Sheffield.