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Alex Cooke returns to Sheffield Doc/Fest as board chair

UK-based documentary conference and festival Sheffield Doc/Fest has appointed Renegade Pictures executive Alex Cooke as chair of its board of trustees following an open call for applications. As chair, Cooke (pictured) will ...
June 2, 2020

UK-based documentary conference and festival Sheffield Doc/Fest has appointed Renegade Pictures executive Alex Cooke as chair of its board of trustees following an open call for applications.

As chair, Cooke (pictured) will be responsible for “sustaining good governance and fiscal probity.” She will work alongside Doc/Fest’s executive team to enhance the South Yorkshire festival’s support for non-fiction filmmakers while also engaging existing and new stakeholders and acting as an advocate for Doc/Fest domestically and internationally.

She returns to the organization after a 19-year hiatus, having served as Doc/Fest’s film programmer from 1997 to 2001. During her Sheffield tenure, she curated programs that honored the work of Michael Moore, Errol Morris, Alan Berliner, William Klein, Kim Longinotto, Morgan Neville, D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus, and Thomas Balmes, among others.

As previously announced, Cooke’s appointment follows the departure of Alex Graham, chair of The Scott Trust and founder of Wall to Wall Television, as Doc/Fest’s board chair after more than nine years in the post.

Cooke currently serves as CEO and co-founder of London-based factual producer Renegade Pictures and has previously spent six years as an active trustee on the board of The Grierson Trust.

Her non-scripted production credits under the Renegade banner have included Ivan O’Mahoney’s Baghdad High, Dan Reed‘s Children of the Tsunami, Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine, and The Yes Men Fix the World. Additionally, she has directed the 2004 feature-length documentary How Arnold Won The West, which traced Arnold Schwarzenegger on the campaign trail to become California’s Governor, and such BBC current affairs documentaries as Closing Guantanamo (with Michael Portillo), Tea Party America (with Andrew Neil) and United Gates of America 

“We are living in challenging times, and Alex’s enthusiasm and vast experience will be essential to Doc/Fest’s mission for its audiences and among the film industry, creating an engaging and hopeful environment for all of us,” said Sheffield Doc/Fest director Cintia Gil in a statement.

“I am delighted to come back to the festival as chair to work with my peers on both the advisory committee and the board and to support a dedicated and impressive festival team, who have worked through enormous difficulties recently to keep the festival successfully on track,” added Cooke. “I love that the festival not only celebrates such a varied range of excellent documentary work, but also gives us, as practitioners and viewers, an opportunity to reflect on and debate our ambitions and priorities. As we all face the extreme challenges ahead, I hope the festival will continue to offer a meaningful haven to motivate, encourage and support us all.”

The official selections for the 2020 Sheffield Doc/Fest will be unveiled on June 8.

Digital industry passholders will be able to access all films from June 8 via the Doc/Player, while the general public will be granted access to the online program beginning June 10 via the Sheffield Doc/Fest Selects platform.

A number of films from the official selection, meanwhile, will screen in Sheffield once theaters reopen their doors this fall and will be available online in parallel.

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