Preview – Sheffield Doc Fest

Where_to_Invade_Next_-_MMThe UK’s biggest and arguably most important documentary film festival, Sheffield Doc Fest (10th – 15th June) kicks off on Friday with a program of films, talks, live music events and virtual reality experiences, including Michael Moore’s latest film Where To Invade Next, which is followed by a Q&A with the man himself.

Politics, war and migration are returned to in the ‘No Place Like Home’ and ‘Instigators & Agitators’ strands, which feature classic films like Chantal Akerman’s No Home Movie, as well as those by emerging film makers, such as Frederik Subei’s short Transit Zone, which was shot in the Calais Jungle.

Plaza de la SoledadFilm makers are themselves a focus of Sheffield Doc Fest this year, with both new documentaries about, and retrospectives on, both Akerman and Ken Loach. Female film makers are particularly highlighted. The ‘Women In Docs’ strand, ranges from Maya Goded’s Plaza De La Soledad, about an ageing group of prostitutes who remain, despite everything, optimistic and courageous in their search for love and fulfilment, to Kirsten Johnsons’s Cameraperson, which weaves together footage from her 25 year career shooting for some of documentary’s greats into an essay on film making. Other strands include ‘Get Up and Dance, ‘Behind the Beats’, ‘Queer Screen’ and ‘Outdoor Adventure’ to name just a few.

David_AttenboroughIn addition to the program of film screenings and Q&As, there is a series of talks featuring, among others, the godfather of TV documentary David Attenborough, and snooker legend Ronnie O’Sullivan. There are music and film events, such as the screening of Paul Fegan’s musical road trip Where You’re Meant To Be, followed by a concert by the film’s protagonist, Aidan Moffat (formerly of Arab Strap), and a whole program of events and exhibitions under the title of ‘Alternate Realities‘ dedicated to the production, dissemination and discussion of virtual reality and interactive media. If you ever wanted to know what it might feel like to be aboard a migrants’ boat or experience the onset of epilepsy, or to have been present in Dublin’s General Post Office during the Easter Rising, this is the place. These events culminate in the Alternate Realities Summit on Sunday 12th, which turns its attention to the questions of whether virtual reality can elicit empathy or enhance journalistic documentary.

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