Sheffield Doc/Fest reveals line-up

Sheffield Doc/Fest's new summer slot will open on June 8 with a line-up of over 110 international documentary films, featuring those with artistic, green and music themes, and a new focus on protest films.
May 9, 2011

Sheffield Doc/Fest’s new summer slot will open on June 8 with a line-up of over 110 international documentary films, featuring those with artistic, green and music themes, and a new focus on protest films.

“The art form,” says programmer Hussain Currimbhoy, “just keeps getting better and better.”

Doc/Fest will pay tribute to the late cinematographer Richard Leacock, with a screening of Richard Drew’s The Chair and Robert J. Flaherty’s Louisiana Story. Indian documentary filmmaker Mani Kaul will be celebrated with a rare screening of his biodoc Siddheswari Devi. As reported previously, veteran filmmaker Albert Maysles will host a masterclass and retrospective of his work.

Filmmakers in attendance at the fest include Morgan Spurlock for his opening night film Pom Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, as well as Adam Curtis (All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace), Asif Kapadia (Senna) and John Akomfrah (The Nine Muses). Position Among the Stars director Leonard Retel Helmrich will appear at Doc/Fest, as will Steve James (The Interrupters) and Danfung Dennis (Hell and Back Again).

A Man’s Story director Varon Bonicos and his film’s subject, fashion icon Ozwald Boateng, will discuss the doc, which profiles Boateng’s designs, business and his personal life.

Novelist and film subject Sir Terry Pratchett will also attend Doc/Fest to present Terry Pratchett: Choosing to Die, in which he look s at the topic of assisted death through his own experience as one who wishes to choose when he dies. Pratchett, who also worked with the BBC on the two-part doc Terry Pratchett: living with Alzheimer’s, will also give a masterclass.

This year’s music strand features a doc on Hole drummer Patty Schemel, Hit So Hard, while actor/director Michael Rapaport follows A Tribe Called Quest on their reunion tour in Beats Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest. Mika Kaurismaki’s Mama Africa tells the story of the late South African icon Miriam Makeba, while  Sylvia Beck’s Nyman in Progress follows famous film music composer Michael Nyman as he reveals a long-held passion for video art and photography. Lastly, Jeanie Finlay’s Sound It Out profiles the last surviving vinyl shop in the UK’s Northeast.

In the protest genre, films include Marshall Curry’s If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front, which asks questions about environmentalism, activism, and the way we define terrorism. In Wiebo’s War filmmaker David York explores the rural Canadian community that battled the oil and gas industry. Just Do It, a crowdfunded feature by Emily James, follows a community of UK environmental activists, while in UK Uncut, an idea in the pub about direct action utilizing social media becomes a nationwide movement.

In another crowdfunded feature, Up In Smoke,  director Adam Wakeling follows a scientist in Cornwall who has found a way to eliminate the agricultural technique slash and burn (the project was pitched at the MIPDoc Co-Production Challenge in 2010, copresented by Reed MIDEM and realscreen). Zero Silence focuses on the situation of young people in Tunisia, Egypt and Lebanon for whom silence is no longer an option.

Other highlights of the program includes Barbara Kopple’s latest, Gun Fight, which spotlights the impact of guns in America, while Dominic Allan’s Calvet follows French artist Jean Marc Calvet as he tries to make peace with his dark past.

Among other highlights are James Marsh’s Project Nim; Anthony Baxter’s You’ve Been Trumped; Martin Scorsese’s tribute to Elia Kazan, Letter to Elia; Andrew Rossi’s Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times;  and the Tribeca-winning Bombay Beach from Alma Har’el.

The full Sheffield Doc/Fest program can be viewed at

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news reporter at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joins the rs team with journalism experience following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.