After last year’s 20th anniversary celebrations, the Doc/Fest team have not rested on their laurels. This year’s festival offers an eclectic mix of screenings, sessions, stunning outdoor events and an innovative interactive programme across six days from 7-12 June. The festival promises to go one step further this year, taking over the city centre and […]

After last year’s 20th anniversary celebrations, the Doc/Fest team have not rested on their laurels. This year’s festival offers an eclectic mix of screenings, sessions, stunning outdoor events and an innovative interactive programme across six days from 7-12 June.

The festival promises to go one step further this year, taking over the city centre and beyond to give documentary film lovers an immersive and unforgettable experience. Below are my must sees – docs and sessions, plus outdoor, live and interactive events to get your teeth into.

FILMS

Happiness
Dir. Thomas Balmes
Happiness follows Bhutanese 8 year old Peyangki’s journey into the uncertainty of modernity. His widowed mother, unable to afford schooling, sends him away to an isolated monastery. Peyangki becomes a witness to great change as his village finally receives electricity. As his first television is destroyed in transit to his new home, the boy is taken on a journey to the capital with his uncle to experience the fast-changing world that surrounds him. Is this happiness or simply the de-construction of innocence?
7 June, 9.30pm – Cinema in a Cave, Devil’s Arse, Castleton
7 June, 11.30am – Peace Gardens
8 June, 12.00pm – Peace Gardens
9 June, 3.30pm – Library Theatre (inc. Q&A)

Nelson Mandela: The Myth & Me
Dir. Khalo Matabane
The leader he always admired, the man who shaped a nation; Khalo Matabane looks back on his experiences as a teenager after Nelson Mandela was released from prison and his subsequent term as President of South Africa. In an imaginary letter to the late leader, Matabane asks what price South Africa paid to avoid violent conflict. Two decades later the nation is still plagued by poverty and inequality. Matabane conducts interviews with fellow South Africans, asking whether his people should forgive.
8 June, 10am – Library Theatre
11 June, 3.30pm – Odeon

The 50 Year Argument
Dir. Martin Scorsese, David Tedeschi
Scorsese’s new film charts the literary, political and cultural history documented by the New York Review of Books. A journal bursting with ideas and concepts collated over 50 years, the doc effortlessly weaves together controversial critical writing with rare archival interview footage. With the Review’s foundation built on confrontation and argument, Scorsese captures the power of ideas in shaping history.
7June, 1.30pm – PBS America Showroom 3 (inc. Q&A)
9 June, 9.30pm – ITN Source Showroom 4

Love is All: 100 Years of Love and Courtship
Dir. Kim Longinotto
Imagine the scene – a glorious summer evening at the beautiful Chatsworth estate, the sun just beginning to set, waiting to see Kim Longinotto’s latest documentary. Throw in a pre-film set by the Everly Pregnant Brothers and you have one of Doc/Fest’s most exciting events to date. Using BFI archive footage, Longinotto takes us on a journey through a century of love and courtship, from the birth of the movie camera to the technological liberation of today, backed by a score by Sheffield legend Richard Hawley. If the weather is kind this could be the festival highlight.
11 June, starts 6pm & screening from 9pm – Chatsworth

The Last Man on the Moon
Dir. Mark Craig
Composed around the story of Eugene Cernan, with an appearance from the man himself, Mark Craig’s fascinating doc looks back at the loves and losses in 60s Houston, Texas as NASA implemented its secretive test pilot process. An epic biography of a man whose first trip to the moon was NASA’s last.
8 June, 3.15pm – PBS America Showroom 3 (inc. Q&A)
9 June, 3.45pm – PBS America Showroom 3 (inc. Q&A)

Attacking the Devil
Dir. David Morris, Jacqui Morris
As Editor of the Sunday Times for 14 years, Harold Evans used all the resources available to him to campaign for the victims of Thalidomide. Originally used to combat the effects of Sarin gas, post-war doctors began to prescribe it to expectant mothers to combat morning sickness, leading to a number of babies being born with deformities. Evans spent over a decade pursuing drug companies to win compensation for the struggling families. A stylish and fascinating doc narrated by the man himself.
9 June, 3.15pm – ITN Source Showroom 4 (inc. extended Q&A)
11 June, 1pm – Library Theatre (inc. extended Q&A)

LIVE EVENTS

Doc/Fest isn’t one to shy away from combining genres and the same can be said for this year’s musical offerings. Closing this year’s festival will be electric pop trio Saint Etienne with a live performance of their musical score for Paul Kelly’s highly acclaimed doc How We Used to Live. A celebration of post-war London, Kelly brings together rare colour footage from the BFI archives, narration by Ian McShane and St Etienne’s charismatic score, to finish off the festival in style. Also, don’t miss Will Gregory (of Goldfrapp) and Tony Orrell, British Sea Power, Sean O’Hagan & The High Llamas, and Adam Buxton. Check the Doc/Fest site for details.

INTERACTIVE EVENTS

Millennium Gallery this year plays host to Interactive at Sheffield, an exhibition containing 15 immersive and interactive documentaries. My pick is Matthew Zymet’s Killing Kennedy. Nominated for this year’s Innovation Award and produced by Ridley Scott, this doc is appearing alongside a fully interactive companion created by the NGC website. The website allows you to follow the film’s narrative as Kennedy and Oswald move down a path of collision. Using 2.5D parallax technology, 400 screens have been constructed from archival photographs to create a compelling and detailed experience for viewers.

Visit the Doc/Fest website for the full festival programme. You can buy tickets for single events or invest in a festival pass for full access to all films, talks, masterclasses, workshops, interactive exhibitions and parties. The Doc/Lovers wristband gives access to all films for £60.

sheffdocfest.com

Anna Pintus.