Alex Graham exits as Sheffield Doc/Fest chair as event gains independent charity status

Two Cities Television CEO and the founding CEO of Wall to Wall, Alex Graham, is stepping down as chair of UK-based documentary conference and festival Sheffield Doc/Fest after more than nine ...
November 26, 2019

Two Cities Television CEO and the founding CEO of Wall to Wall, Alex Graham, is stepping down as chair of UK-based documentary conference and festival Sheffield Doc/Fest after more than nine years in the posting. 

Graham has served as Doc/Fest’s chair since 2008 and has governed the festival over a period of “significant growth,” resulting in an increase in the British festival’s public attendance while increasing financial security and sustainability. His term came to the end last year but he has remained on board to ensure a smooth transition. 

Graham’s departure follows the July hiring of Cíntia Gil as Sheffield Doc/Fest’s director, replacing former Discovery Networks International executive Elizabeth McIntyre, who departed as CEO and director in August of last year, and deputy director Melanie Iredale, who took the post on an interim basis upon the departure of McIntyre.

Gil, who joined Sheffield this month, previously served as one of the directors of Portugal’s Doclisboa International Film Festival.

“I am very sad to be leaving Sheffield,” said Graham in a statement. “Chairing this great festival has truly been one of the highlights of my career. But organizations need a regular injection of fresh ideas and thinking at board level and after more than nine years, it is time for me to move on.

“I am confident that I leave Doc/Fest financially and organizationally stronger than when I took over and I wish Cíntia and her fantastically talented team all the best in taking it to the next level,” he added.

Sheffield Doc/Fest has now launched a search for its next board chair with an open call for applications. The selected candidate will be responsible for maintaining fiscal probity while managing governance and working alongside the executive team to manage stakeholders and act as advocates for the festival domestically and internationally.

In particular, the chair will lead the board to help deliver a new strategic vision for the festival for 2020 and beyond.

More information about the recruitment process is available here.

In other Sheffield Doc/Fest news, the South Yorkshire-set festival has been awarded independence from Sheffield Media & Exhibition Centre (SMEC), the charity which runs the Showroom Workstation, and now acts as an independent organization and a charity in its own right as of Oct. 1, 2019. The two organizations will continue to work together in partnership.

“To become a charity is an opportunity that will provide us with the space for public service, both in the interest of filmmakers, artists and the public,” said Gil regarding the move. “Sheffield Doc/Fest is a festival committed to the values of freedom, social engagement and collective development of the arts, therefore the purpose of our work becomes even clearer with this new status.

“I want to thank Alex Graham on behalf of the team, and also the wider board of trustees, for their trust, their support and wise presence over the years. I am looking forward to working with a new chair, as we enter an exciting period of Doc/Fest as a charity. I am sure the ethics and commitment of such a status will help guide our mission to advance the art of film, education and training in the art of documentary filmmaking for years to come.”

Now in its 27th year, Doc/Fest has grown to become one of the world’s major documentary film festivals and marketplaces, attracting up to 3,500 delegates and 30,000 public admissions from 60 countries around the world each June.

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.