The UK’s biggest documentary and digital media festival, Doc/Fest, arrives in Sheffield from 5-10 June and promises another packed programme of diverse films, high-profile events, parties and cutting-edge interactive elements. This year it returns in the hands of its new Director of Programming and Industry Engagement, Claire Aguilar. With over 150 feature-length and short documentaries […]

The UK’s biggest documentary and digital media festival, Doc/Fest, arrives in Sheffield from 5-10 June and promises another packed programme of diverse films, high-profile events, parties and cutting-edge interactive elements. This year it returns in the hands of its new Director of Programming and Industry Engagement, Claire Aguilar.

With over 150 feature-length and short documentaries from 35 countries across the globe, Doc/Fest 2015 has a breathtaking programme of cinematic delights to choose from. Here are just some of our recommendations of what to look out for in June.

FILMS

The Look of Silence
Dir. Joshua Oppenheimer
This year’s Doc/Fest kicks off with a bang with two spectacular and unmissable opening night events. The first is Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Look of Silence, the sequel to his landmark documentary The Act of Killing (2012), which won the Doc/Fest Special Jury prize in 2013. The Look of Silence focuses on the survivors and the victims of the 1960s anti-communist killing purges in Indonesia, revealing the courage of a young man who dares to confront the killers and make them take responsibility for their actions. The screening will feature a special appearance by director Joshua Oppenheimer.
5 June, 6pm (with Q&A) – ITN Source Showroom 4

The Greatest Shows on Earth
Dir. Benedikt Erlingsson
The second opening night event is the world premiere of The Greatest Shows on Earth: A Century of Funfairs, Circuses and Carnivals. Telling the story of itinerant circus performers, cabaret acts and fairground attractions, the film has exclusive access to The University of Sheffield’s National Fairground Archive and an epic new score by Georg Hólm and Orri Páll Dýrason of Sigur Rós, in collaboration with Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson. Director Benedikt Erlingsson takes us back to the days when the most outlandish, skilful and breathtaking acts travelled the world, with a live circus show and a Q&A from the director and the band members.
5 June, 9.15pm (with Q&A) – Irwin Mitchell Oval Hall, City Hall

Iris
Dir. Albert Maysles
Albert Maysles, who changed the landscape of documentary filmmaking with landmark films Salesman (1968), Gimme Shelter (1970) and Grey Gardens (1976), passed away this year at the age of 88. Doc/Fest will screen his latest documentary, Iris, about the stylish fashion icon and businesswoman, Iris Apfel, a leader of the New York interior design and fashion scene for decades. Maysles explores Apfel’s colourful world, both at home with her 100-year-old husband, Carl, and on her many engagements about town. Her affection for Maysles is obvious and reciprocated. These are two veterans still operating at the top of their game.
7 June, 5.45pm (with Q&A) – Odeon Screen 8
10 June, 10.15am – Vimeo Showroom 2

The Damned: Don’t You Wish That We Were Dead
Dir. Wes Orshoski

Wes Orshoski, director of Lemmy, returns with the story of the long-ignored pioneers of punk, The Damned, the first UK punks on wax and the first to cross the Atlantic. This authorised documentary includes appearances from Chrissie Hynde, Mick Jones (The Clash), Lemmy and members of Pink Floyd, Black Flag, Guns N’ Roses, The Sex Pistols, Blondie, Buzzcocks and more. The film charts the band’s complex history and infighting, and follows their 35th anniversary world tour, which took place while estranged former members embarked on their own anniversary tour and other former members battled cancer.
7 June, 8.30pm (with Q&A) – Odeon Screen 8

Mavis!

Dir. Jessica Edwards
This year Sheffield Doc/Fest will screen a film in the grounds of the stunning Botanical Gardens for the very first time. Guests can explore the Gardens, buy food and drink, and enjoy live entertainment before the European premiere of Mavis!. The Staple Singers were amongst the first gospel groups to write freedom songs, including Why (Am I Treated So Bad)?’, penned after meeting a then-unknown Martin Luther King Jr. At 75, Mavis Staples continues to sing and spread the message of love.
6 June, 7pm – The Botanical Gardens
7 June,
6pm (with Q&A) – Molinare Library Theatre

Monty Python – The Meaning of Live
Dirs. Roger Graef and James Rogan
The closing night screening follows Monty Python as they prepare for their first live shows in more than 30 years. In a film packed with memorable moments, the group is all too aware of sky-high expectations. As fans from around the world converge for the show – including Brian Cox, Stephen Hawking and Mike Myers in delightful cameos – the Pythons confide frequently and humorously to the camera. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with Michael Palin and directors Roger Graef and James Rogan in conversation with the comedian Josie Long.
10 June, 6.30pm (with Q&A) – Crucible Theatre

LIVE EVENTS

Two spectacular musical events stand out at Doc/Fest 2015. The prolific composer and arranger Michael Nyman brings his War Work: 8 Songs With Film to the City Hall on 6 June. Elsewhere, Festival of the Mind presents Sounds of the Cosmos at the Crucible on 9 June, which sees Holst’s The Planets performed by the Sheffield Rep Orchestra and conducted by George Morton, accompanied by newly commissioned visuals by Human and commentary from astronomer Paul Crowther.

You will also find an array of filmmaking masterclasses, with Joshua Oppenheimer, Brett Morgen, John Akomfrah and Jeanie Finlay, as well as TV favourites in conversation, including Lucy Worsley, Davina McCall and Nicky Campbell, and Jon Snow. And of course, check out the return of Doc/Fest favourite Adam Buxton presenting the Best of BUG.

INTERACTIVE EVENTS

Doc/Fest has teamed up with Site Gallery to co-present a virtual reality arcade featuring nine interesting and diverse VR experiences. The Interactive Exhibition at Millennium Gallery showcases the best in interactive documentary, with 16 immersive works that use technology to allow us to fully inhabit the worlds of storytellers. Elsewhere, Castle House will house Final Days, a newly commissioned video and sculpture installation by Heather Phillipson which explores the building’s former life as a department store through a suite of six videos separated into ‘departments’.

Visit the Doc/Fest website for the full festival programme. You can buy tickets for single events from £8 or invest in a festival pass for full access to all films, talks, masterclasses, workshops, interactive events and parties. The Doc/Lovers wristband gives access to all films from £50.

sheffdocfest.com

Ryan Finnigan