Comprising a record 182 features and shorts, this year’s Sheffield Doc/Fest promises to be the best yet. It’s a marvellous eclectic programme featuring 35 world, 21 International, 24 European and 73 UK premieres. Indeed, it feels like the focus of the world’s third biggest documentary film festival is squarely on the films this year. The festival takes place across Sheffield between 9-14 June. The festival closes with a special screening of Jo Cox: Death of an MP.
Featuring 26 projects, the alternative reality offering at this year’s festival has greatly expanded, highlighting the use of new technologies in filmmaking and the changing ways we are consuming content. The festival will also feature the Alternative Realities Summit. There are a number of highly influential speakers this year, with talks including Peter Greenaway, Lenny Henry, Walter Munc, Ian Hislop and Bruce Parry.
Choosing which films to see can be a tricky business, but part two of our selection is here to help:
A nonfiction account of the Ferguson uprising told by the people who lived it, Whose Streets? is an unflinching look at how the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown inspired a community to fight back—and sparked a global movement.
Through its lyrical structure, Chavela will take viewers on an evocative, thought-provoking journey through the iconoclastic life of game-changing artist Chavela Vargas.
When Bryan Fogel sets out to uncover the truth about doping in sports, a chance meeting with a Russian scientist transforms his story from a personal experiment into a geopolitical thriller involving dirty urine, unexplained death and Olympic Gold—exposing the biggest scandal in sports history.
City of Ghosts
Captivating in its immediacy, it follows the journey of “Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently”—a handful of anonymous activists who banded together after their homeland was taken over by ISIS in 2014. With astonishing, deeply personal access, this is the story of a brave group of citizen journalists as they face the realities of life undercover, on the run, and in exile, risking their lives to stand up against one of the greatest evils in the world today.
In order to confront the ghosts that haunt him, Palestinian director Raed Andoni assembles an eclectic group of ex-prisoners to build a replicate of Al-Moskobiya, Israel’s main interrogation centre, where he was himself jailed at age 18. From fragmentary memory, day after day, they give shape to the interrogation centre they all experienced, and re-enact its stories. As the walls of the cells rise, the tongues and the emotions loosen.
You Have No Idea How Much I Love You
Two adult women – a mother and her daughter – take part in a family therapy to improve their painful relationship.
Brimstone & Glory
The National Pyrotechnic Festival in Tultepec, Mexico is a site of festivity unlike any other in the world. In celebration of San Juan de Dios, patron saint of firework makers, conflagrant revelry engulfs the town for ten days. Artisans show off their technical virtuosity, up-¬and-comers create their own rowdy, lo¬fi combustibles, and dozens of teams build larger-than-life papier¬-mâché bulls to parade into the town square, adorned with fireworks that blow up in all directions. More than three quarters of Tultepec’s residents work in pyrotechnics, making the festival more than revelry for revelry’s sake.
Jennifer, a Harvard PhD student, was signing a check at a restaurant when she found she could not write her own name. Months before her wedding, she became progressively more ill, losing the ability even to sit in a wheelchair. When doctors told her it was “all in her head,” she turned her camera on herself and her community, a hidden world of millions confined to their homes bedrooms by ME, commonly called chronic fatigue syndrome.
Filmed with vérité intimacy for over a decade, Quest is the moving portrait of a family in North Philadelphia. Christopher “Quest” Rainey, along with his wife Christine’a, aka “Ma Quest,” open the door to their home music studio, which serves as a creative sanctuary from the strife that grips their neighbourhood. Over the years, the family evolves as everyday life brings a mix of joy and unexpected crisis. Set against the backdrop of a country now in turmoil, Quest is a tender depiction of an American family whose journey is a profound testament to love, healing and hope.
Thank You for the Rain
Five years ago Kisilu, a Kenyan farmer, started to use his camera to capture the life of his family, his village and the damages of climate change. When a violent storm throws him and a Norwegian filmmaker together we see him transform from a father, to community leader to an activist on the global stage.
Whitney ‘Can I Be Me?’
From acclaimed director Nick Broomfield comes a new film about one of the greatest singers of all time. Whitney Houston was the epitome of superstar, an “American Princess,” the most awarded female artist ever. Even though Whitney had made millions of dollars, had more consecutive number ones than The Beatles, and became recognized as having one of the greatest voice of all time, she still wasn’t free to be herself and died at just 48 years old. Made with largely never-seen before footage and exclusive live recordings, Whitney ‘Can I Be Me’ tells Whitney Houston’s incredible and poignant life story with insights from those closest to her.
Even When I Fall
Sheetal and Saraswoti met as teenagers in a Kathmandu refuge, survivors of child trafficking to corrupt Indian circuses and brought back across the border to a Nepal they could barely remember.
Even When I Fall traces their journey over 6 years as they confront the families that sold them, seek acceptance within their own country and begin to build a future. They struggle against the odds and without education, but inadvertently these girls were left with a secret weapon by their captors – their breath-taking skills as circus artists. With 11 other young trafficking survivors, Sheetal and Saraswoti form Circus Kathmandu – Nepal’s first and only circus.
Dina, an outspoken and eccentric 49-year-old in suburban Philadelphia, invites her fiancé Scott, a Walmart door greeter, to move in with her. Having grown up neurologically diverse in a world blind to the value of their experience, the two are head-over-heels for one another, but shacking up poses a new challenge.
The Insignificant Man
At the heart of An Insignificant Man is the most polarising man in India today – Arvind Kejriwal. The film follows Kejriwal and his Common Man’s Party – an insurgent new political party, as they wield basic public issues like water, electricity, and graft against the country’s oldest and most powerful two political establishments. It gives an insider’s view into Kejriwal’s brand of politics, which has split popular opinion into two prominent factions. One labels it selfish and anarchic, while the other insists on seeing it as a major shift in the Indian political paradigm.
A Suitable Girl
A Suitable Girl follows three young women in India struggling to maintain their identities and follow their dreams amid intense pressure to get married. Ritu, Dipti and Amrita represent the new India. Educated, financially stable and raised with a mix of traditional and contemporary values in the urban cities of Mumbai and New Delhi, they have access to the world in ways their mothers did not. Yet their lives take a dramatic turn when the pressure to settle down and get married hits.
The Cage Fighter
A blue-collar family man breaks the promise he made years ago to never fight again. Now 40, with a wife and children who need him, Joe risks everything-his marriage, his family, his health-to go back into the fighting cage and come to terms with his past.
You can buy full festival passes, Doc/Lovers passes and individual tickets now. For further information about the festival, and to secure your place, visit the Sheffield Doc/Fest website.