Luke Moody, director of film programming at Sheffield Doc/Fest, has departed from the British documentary film festival after nearly three years of service.
The festival confirmed to Realscreen on Monday (July 22) that Moody’s contract ended on July 17, following a three month notice period.
“Luke delivered a memorable, internationally led film program for Sheffield Doc/Fest this year; the festival would like to thank him for his hard work towards the past three editions, and commend him for his artistic vision,” a festival representative said in a statement.
Moody (pictured) joined the Sheffield Doc/Fest ranks in November 2016 from BritDoc (now Doc Society), and at the time said he wanted to “develop a platform at Sheffield to engage with international, urgent and beautiful storytelling from the voices closest to those stories.”
As head of film at BritDoc, Moody was responsible for managing the organization’s international documentary funding schemes, and presided over impact distribution releases for BritDoc films.
During his three-year tenure at Doc/Fest, Moody was responsible for curating the 2017-2019 film programs, filmmaker guests and juries – including Werner Herzog and Ai Weiwei, among others – as well as attempting to expand the festival’s footprint to such regions as Latin America and East Asia.
The 2019 Sheffield Doc/Fest brought in a record 2,548 documentary films from 123 countries submitted for inclusion in this year’s festival. The final programming lineup was made up of 186 documentaries from 40 countries, with 54% of films and 57% of competition nominated films having been directed or co-directed by women.
But in comments made to BFI’s Sight & Sound last week, Moody said the UK-set festival’s “chimney needs sweeping before a fire can be lit,” adding that the Doc/Fest board is “from a tradition that is a dinosaur – the likes of Netflix, Amazon, HBO and Hulu are far more progressive and will take their audiences.
“The only thing I hear from them is self-interest: ‘Where’s my commission?’ They’re not performing a job to take the festival forward and accept new partnerships or grow the festival, or support a program that is progressive.
“Their anchor is the festival as it was 10, 20 years ago – putting forward colonial forms of filmmaking, annually offering and pressuring to include content only relevant to a domestic market and directed by white men over 40.”
While the board has not responded directly to Moody’s comments, the festival is now recruiting a senior film programmer to work alongside festival director Cintia Gil, who joins the festival in November from Portugal’s Doclisboa International Film Festival, and current interim director Melanie Iredale, who will return to her role as deputy director in November.
The senior film programmer will be tasked with devising and delivering film events, fundraising activity to support the films team, and supporting filmmakers and developing audiences during the festival and year-round.