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Sheffield Doc/Fest Reimagining the Land: Film festival announce retrospective and a series of spotlights

In place of this year's in-person festival, Doc/Fest have announced the theme of their annual retrospective, as well as a series of spotlights on three forward-thinking artists and filmmakers.

Curated by Christopher Small, Reimagining the Land will "reassert the primacy of the land as a critical way of thinking about the world and about its various crises, by confronting historical images of land, agriculture, rural life, and proletarian struggle".

It features films including 1958's Mother India, considered by many the greatest Indian film of all time, which centres on the life of a mother forced to organise her own land and labour after her husband commits suicide.

It also includes A Japanese Village from 1984, a film by the Ogawa Pro documentary collective who "trained their powers of perception onto the minor rhythms of farm life."

The first spotlight will pay tribute to French filmmaker Sarah Maldoror, who died recently at the age of 90. Born of West Indies descent, Maldoror studied at Soviet cinema school VGIK before making a series of films which focused on liberation movements and anti-colonial struggles.

Doc/Fest will be screening Maldoror's 1968 short Monangambé, which depicts the cruelty of the colonising Portuguese authorities in Angola and features a soundtrack by the Art Ensemble of Chicago.

The second spotlight turns to prolific US documentarian Lynne Sachs, with a number of her films including 1994's Which Way Is East: Notebooks From Vietnam.

"Two American sisters travel from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi, followed by their own ghosts and those of local memories," reads the synopsis. "On their way, they meet a country and its richness - strangers, translations, parables and stories, in a complex landscape."

The final spotlight focuses on Simplice Ganou, a Burkina Faso filmmaker whose work "is made with a unique sense of time and place."

Doc/Fest will screen Ganou's first two films ahead of the premiere of his most recent work in the autumn, starting with 2011's Bakoroman. The title refers to "the self designation of homeless children in Ouagadougou, who are neither children nor adults, who wander the streets and roads, and lead a life of their own."

2017 follow-up The Koro of Bakoro, the Survivors of Faso is a portrait of Polo, one of the Bakoroman from Ganou's first film, now aged 29 and living off odd jobs.

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