After a couple of years in an online or hybrid form, Sheffield Doc/Fest once again returns in all its glory to the cinema screens of South Yorkshire on 23-28 June. The UK’s leading documentary festival will once again showcase a thrillingly diverse range of short and feature length films from around the world. Alongside the now established alternate realities programme, exhibitions, debate and immersive events. This year, for obvious reasons, there will be a spotlight on Ukrainian filmmakers. It is always a great few days in the North.
We have scoured the programme to bring you a few recommendations:
My Paper Life
Vida Dena’s feature documentary debut is an intimate and subtly expansive portrait of a Syrian family living in a house in Brussels that seldom leaves the confines of its four pink walls. Dena’s film focuses on the two eldest daughters, Hala and Rima, and the family’s growing collection of drawings and dreams.
Age of Rage
The Australian Punk Revolution is a retrospective tracing the history of punk in Australia, exploring the music, creativity, isolation, social struggles and friendships that evolved from the 1970s to today.
Eat Your Catfish
Kathryn’s neuromuscular disease has left her paralyzed and her family’s relations in tatters. Though despair finally overwhelms her, she holds on to see her daughter’s wedding. Drawn from 930 hours of footage shot from Kathryn’s point of view and without a crew present, this groundbreaking, personal portrait of a family pushed to its breaking point offers a brutally intimate view of disability and in-home caretaking.
In a home in Colombia, ten young women take a seat, one after another, and close their eyes. They are asked to picture Alis, an imaginary friend, and to bring her story to life in a creative dialogue with the filmmakers. Like the interviewees, Alis used to live on the streets of Bogotá.
Beneath the Surface
A tip-off in 2014 enabled a group of journalists to gain access to silenced stories of abuse from indigenous Sámi women, men and children. Generations of negligence and suffering are investigated through recovered evidence and unseen archival footage.
Adam Ondra: Pushing the Limits
Adam Ondra is one of the best climbers today, a true virtuoso who has tackled the world’s most difficult rocks and walls. But with the pressure of the media and the audience rising, his desire to climb has changed into the obligation to win. A breathtaking, intimate look into the life and career of a man who is one with his passion.
The Business of Birth Control
Sixty years after the pill revolutionized women’s emancipation, THE BUSINESS OF BIRTH CONTROL examines the complex relationship between hormonal birth control and women’s health and liberation.
I Didn’t See You There
Spurred by the spectacle of a circus tent that goes up outside his Oakland apartment, a disabled filmmaker launches into an unflinching meditation on spectacle, (in)visibility, and the corrosive legacy of the Freak Show.
The house’s facade displays a map of the former USSR, while right next door a second-hand clothing store advertises “European quality”. Eastern Ukraine, where war has left bombed-out houses and desolation – here live Nastya and Yarik. Together with the other children they own the ruins and junkyards with playful resilience. A strip mine sprawls in the background, the grown-ups are forced to “freelance” as gravediggers.
Sansón and Me
During his day job as a Spanish criminal interpreter in a small town in California, filmmaker Rodrigo Reyes met a young man named Sansón, an undocumented Mexican immigrant who was sentenced to life in prison without parole. With no permission to interview him, Sansón and Reyes worked together over a decade, using hundreds of letters as inspiration for recreations of Sansón’s childhood.
After winning Best Young Designer of the Year, which comes with a big cash prize, Amy Powney decides to use the money to create a sustainable collection from field to finished garment, and transform her entire business. Over the following three years, her own personal revolution becomes the precursor of a much bigger, societal change.
Nelly & Nadine
The voice of opera singer Nelly resonates in the middle of Ravensbrück concentration camp. Nelly and Nadine met for the first time at Christmas in 1944. They found each other again after liberation and were to stay together for the rest of their lives. Today, Nelly’s granddaughter Sylvie is about to be confronted with her grandmother’s legacy, locked in a box.
Our Bodies Are Your Battlefields
In an Argentina divided between a deep conservatism and an unprecedented momentum in feminism, the film delves into the political journey and intimate lives of Claudia and Violeta. Trans women who identify as transvestites, the fight they lead with their comrades against the patriarchal violence is visceral and embodied.
Places. People. Songs sung like a liberation, fragments of happiness, memories that are sometimes funny, sometimes painful. These moments of life are captured on camera during karaoke performances throughout the Finnish landscape. Joy and melancholy merge in this film’s friendly approach, which will leave a lasting impression on its audience.
Mountains and Heaven in Between
It’s 2020, the world is threatened by a pandemic – the new and unknown coronavirus disease. At the same time, the mountain village of Kolochava in Zakarpattia goes on with daily life because people here face difficulties constantly.
To scrutinise the full programme or to buy passes/tickets, visit the Sheffield Doc/Fest website.