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A Magazine for Sheffield

In Our Hands / My Neighbor Totoro

Directed by Jo Barker & Sylvie Planel, produced by Humphrey Lloyd and Holly Black, In Our Hands presents what the filmmakers articulate as "the inspiring story behind the blood, sweat and tears of the British farmers seizing the Brexit moment to outgrow the industrial food system".

A collaboration between small-scale farmers’ union the Landworkers’ Alliance and Black Bark Films, the film aims "to bring people together to think about their food and to bust the myth of the industrial farming system". It explores and exposes our current industrial food system as "propped up by an outdated subsidy system that pays out to landowners, rather than land workers, and leaves many farmers adrift in its wake".

But, like Doc/Fest 2016’s audience favourite Seed, the film has a positive response to the dire state of UK farming: "From the hedgerows and by-roads, in the fields and in the furrows can be heard the stirring of change. Stories of struggle from the global south have spread like pollen on the wind and inspired farmers around us. They have learned of the idea of food sovereignty and have heard of a global movement to take back control of the food system.

"A new agricultural landscape is emerging, one that will bring back life to the soil, a fair wage to the farmer and a flavour to the tomato."

All this sounds truly inspiring. Come along to see the film and discuss the issues it raises. Sheffield Organic Growers play a crucial role in both the film and the challenges and changes the film sets out to communicate to us. Focusing on how real-life farmers are taking on the industrial food system, working to defend the fundamental link between people, food and the land, the film’s message is that, despite the uncertainties of our future, "the seeds of a better food system are […] in our hands."

In Our Hands, plus Q&A and meet the filmmakers, will screen at Regather Works on Thursday 22 February, 7pm. Tickets are £7 at

Samantha Holland, with thanks to the filmmakers


Since its release in 1988, My Neighbor Totoro has built a massive following across the globe. This 1988 classic by Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki has been called the gateway film into the works of Studio Ghibli, Hayao Miyazaki, and even Japanese animation itself, and it isn’t hard to see why.

This is a film about, and a celebration of, child-like wonder. It’s about the power of imagination, discovery, joy and spirituality. It’s not about conflict, villains and terror, but family and fantasy. It's no surprise that Totoro himself has become the iconic mascot for Studio Ghibli.

We follow two young girls, Satsuki and Mei, as they move to a new home with their father to be closer to the hospital their mother is in. It’s a simple story of a family making the best of an uncomfortable situation and still finding happiness. Illness is something rarely tackled in animated features, but Miyazaki does it here with grace and subtlety.

But it isn’t all about the family. There are the creatures of the forest that inhabit this strange and wonderful world. Totoro, a spirit animal of Miyazaki’s creation, is no monster. He is a big, fluffy rabbit-like giant that sleeps as long as his smile is wide. Then there is Cat Bus, the other amazing creature of the film’s world, a massive, 12-legged cat which is hollow inside so Totoro can get around town. There really isn’t anything else like it.

The world of My Neighbor Totoro is a quiet and peaceful one, utterly benign. Ironically, given all the majestic outlandishness the film offers, it shows how the stories of our lives are the most compelling. From moment to moment there is so much love between family, friends and nature. The heart of this film grows as you watch it.

2018 marks the 30th anniversary of My Neighbor Totoro. To celebrate this milestone, Reel Steel is screening a 35mm print of the film at Abbeydale Picture House.

My Neighbor Totoro screens at the Abbeydale Picture House on Sunday 25 February, 6pm. Tickets via

Christian Abbott


Hosted by Samantha Holland

Dir. Ben Jeans Houghton
18 Jan - 10 Feb | Bloc Projects
A single channel film embedded in an installation, 2ndlife is a first-person film essay using places and protagonists encountered on a journey through Japan to explore perspectives on suicide, giving voice to places, objects, animals and the Internet in dialogue with the protagonist.

Dir. Kei Ishikawa, 2016
Tue 6 Feb | Time TBC | Showroom Cinema
Gukoroku (Traces of Sin) follows an investigative reporter going through difficult times. Immersing himself in a story about the cold case murder of a ‘perfect’ family, interviews with the family’s friends reveal the dark reality of social cliques and human ruthlessness.

Dir. Andrey Zvyagintsev, 2007
Thu 8 Feb | 8pm | Showroom Cinema | £8.80/£6.60
The Banishment (Izgnanie) shows as part of the Showroom’s ‘Loveless In Russia’ season. One of director Zvyagintsev’s most darkly sinister films, it examines an urban family’s mysterious banishment to a pastoral setting. Influenced by Tarkovsky and loaded with religious metaphors, critics are split on whether it’s powerful stuff or pseudo deep.

Dir. Yorgos Lanthimos
Fri 16 Feb | 7:30pm | Nelson Mandela Auditorium, SU | £3
Critically-acclaimed psychological horror from the director of The Lobster, this film was described by several critics as a 'tough sit'. Weird and unsettling, in true Lanthimos style.

Dir. Clio Barnard, 2017
National release: Fri 23 Feb
An intense battle-for-land drama, Dark River’s troubled tale of an estranged brother and sister unfurls amongst the brooding landscapes around Skipton and Malham. Starring Ruth Wilson, Mark Stanley and Sean Bean, Barnard’s third film credits Rose Tremain’s acclaimed 2010 novel, Trespass, as its inspiration, but promises dark cinematic tragedy played out in rural Yorkshire.

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