Doc/Fest 20 is coming
By Charlie Phillips 19 May, 2013
Last week, Hussain gave you his take on his beautiful programme for this year. He's programmed something incredible for this year - it's traditional to always claim that the latest programme is the best yet, but this time, there's no doubt, it is.
We have 14 MeetMarket alumni in there, but I especially draw your attention to The Man Whose Mind Exploded, which pitched here in 2008. Toby Amies has made something magical from his relationship with a spectacular eccentric living in a cramped flat in Brighton. The love on screen will charm you. I also love The Great Hip Hop Hoax, where the consequences of wanting fame and a voice are laid bare sweetly.
We were proud to have to have The Act of Killing pitched here in 2008, and the resulting film is a triumphant shocker of self-delusion, told through recreations which are unlike any previous documentary. One of the best docs ever? I think so.
I'm proud we have unsung genius John Akomfrah returning with The Stuart Hall Project, an evocative collage of the great cultural studies theorist's life told through his own archive. In a totally different doc style, Blackfish will leave you gawping at the predictable consequences of what happens when you keep massive killer whales in captivity and slowly drive them mad.
In this year's MeetMarket, we have 63 top projects from all around the world, and again, I honestly think it's our finest selection yet. They'll be pitching to over 270 Decision Makers - our largest group ever, and representing an exciting range of genres and approaches to financing and reaching audiences,
But even more exciting than that of course is the single event I'm more excited about than anything before in my time at Doc/Fest - after years of wanting to get him here, and being a gigantic fan of This American Life, Ira Glass is Coming for his first ever UK appearance - can you believe it?
Statistics for The Channel 4 Interview: Stephen Lambert
By Ben Taylor 17 May, 2013
In this podcast Stephen Lambert is interviewed by Storyville’s Nick Fraser to look in depth at Lambert’s dynamic career as a director and commissioner of documentaries.
The discussion follows Lambert’s initial interest in documentary making and how he established himself in the field, to his current career as a commissioning editor. With prompts from Fraser, Lambert explains his documentaries Ellen in Exile and Inside Story: South Africa, addressing the relationship between the subject and the documentary’s intention. He also identifies key features of documentaries and the way in which he manipulates them to suit his definitive style.
Lambert takes us through his decision to leave the BBC to start his own production company. With his new job title he begins to connect the documentary style to audience ratings and is encouraged to take notice of them. With the ever changing documentary style, titles such as Faking It and Secret Millionaire were created to support the need for repeatable programmes to reel in the audience figures. With this, Lambert not only outlines his own career history, but the history of popular television identifying the changes in the industry, which help make documentaries what they are today.
To download this podcast search for Sheffield Doc/Fest on iTunes, where you will also find our archive of podcasts!
20th Doc/Fest film programme is live
By Hussain Currimbhoy 14 May, 2013
This is my sixth Doc/Fest programme and I still get such a massive tingle when it comes to launching the programme to the world.
This year we have some of the best documentaries made to chose from – of course – but a special focus on Films on Film is a new addition that seems to be getting an unusually large amount of attention. They are as cult as you can get with supreme classics like 'My Best Fiend' and 'Wrath of God' by Werner Herzog playing alongside 'I Am Divine' and 'Female Trouble' by the unsurpassable John Waters. 'Apoclypse Now' and 'Hearts of Darkness' are the ones I'm most excited about, especially since the famed editor, Walter Murch, (yes, the guy who edited 'Apocolypse Now') will be attending to present his new film 'Particle Fever' and give a Q&A for the Coppola classic.
We are really proud to announce 14 films in the programme that came from the MeetMarket. Its kind of the perfect narrative when films start off in the market, get support, and then come back in the end to screen at the festival. Talk about keeping the love alive! Some of these high lights are 'The Man Whose Mind Exploded', 'The Square' and 'The Act of Killing' are films that should not be missed no matter who is telling you otherwise.
Many of you may recall our great 3 year retrospective of Japanese documentary in 07/08/09. That was well popular with delegates and public (I met people who came in from Scotland to catch the Tsuchimoto films… didn't have the heart to tell them that the films were going to play in Edinburgh a week later. Still pretty impressed by the commitment) so a continuation of this strand will live on wit the Shohei Imamura retro. Many of you know him as a fiction director but his docs were just as wild and fascinating. I can only encourage you all to check them out because they are light years ahead of their time and that last time they were shown in the UK was a very long time ago.
Don't let it be said that I have forgotten our short film directors because this year we have a new award honouring the best short film that is - wait for it – Oscar recognised. Who ever wins this will be one step closer to Oscar nomination and paying back their parents for the cost of the film's production budget in the first place.
You can check out shorts and other big docs on our Howard Street Screen too. Its the place to bring any date if you wish to impress.
Now make my wish come true and crash the ticket systems with your mad rush to hear about the state of the world and help us celebrate our 20th Doc/Fest.
Who Needs a Cameraman?
By Ben Taylor 09 May, 2013
The art of documentary making is discussed in this podcast in regards to the work of director of photography and cameraman Paul Otter. Chaired by Dick Fontaine, the podcast covers Otter’s views on the importance of collaboration between the directors and editors of a documentary to ensure that the end product is an effective reflection of the subject matter. Otter explains the significance of the cameraman and his/her ability to listen to the subjects who they are filming, to create a natural flow of images as the cameraman should be able to understand the flow of communication to follow the most appropriate action for the purposes of the documentary.
Although this is one of our shorter podcasts, the content covers the effects of budget on the creativity of the documentary alongside the pressures of editing a piece. Otter puts emphasis on the using the mind as the main tool for success and that patience is key to uncovering the truth to create a ground breaking documentary.
Head to iTunes and search for Sheffield Doc/Fest to find our archive of podcasts!
Doc Mogul Award
By Ben Taylor 01 May, 2013
This week at Hot Docs, Debra Zimmerman of Women Make Movies was given the 2013 Doc Mogul Award. Our director Heather Croall was invited to give a tribute to Debra at Hot Docs and here is what she had to say.
"As most people know, Debra Zimmerman is one of the most fun loving girls to hang out with in the documentary world. I am honoured and privileged to have had hilarious times, fabulous adventures and great laughs with her in many places around the world. She is proof that blondes have more fun! For a good time, give Debra Zimmerman a call!
But ... don't be fooled by this fun-loving blonde image, Debra is no bimbo. She is one of the sharpest, most straight-talking people in the industry. Certainly no shrinking Violet. Debra has opinions and she is definitely going to let you know about them. I've had many great discussions and debates with her as many of you in this room have had, I'm sure!
She often laughs at me because I call her Debra - she says the only other person who calls her Debra is her mother! I'm not sure why... but from the first time we met, I always called her Debra, its probably because I was a bit scared of her. I felt the full formal name - Debra - was the best way to address this phenomenal force of nature. Even before I met her (14 years ago at the Mumbai Film Festival) I have to say I have been in awe of Debra Zimmerman.
Debra has been an incredible champion of women film makers for decades and to me that deserves a huge respect.
She set herself the challenge to make sure films by-women-and-about-women were made and seen by audiences around the world. She has defied the odds by achieving this wonderful goal year after year, getting huge audiences for WMM films via education channels, via festivals, via broadcasters and direct to audiences. Debra has always been ahead of the curve - and that is one of the main reasons Women Make Movies has survived and thrived through some of the toughest years while many other distributors have folded.
Debra is a survivor, a warrior, a forward-thinking innovator... she is also one of the hardest working people in the industry.
She works all hours. I've seen it with my own eyes. I've shared a bed with Debra at many film festivals around the world. I've witnessed her working into the small hours - writing papers, answering thousands of emails and preparing funding bids. She is always on that computer - that laptop- that blackberry - that iphone. the lot!
Debra juggles thousands of things at once and she also finds it hard to say "no". Invitations for her to speak in some far flung corner of the world or be on a jury at some film festival pour in to Debra all the time. She hates to say "no" and let people down, which means she is endlessly on the road! Once Debra told me she calculated that she had only spent 45 nights in her own apartment over a whole year because of the travel to various festivals, universities and conferences. She always vows to cut the travel down, but can't because she keeps saying "yes", she is so committed to promoting the women film makers she represents and women film makers in general.
I've been with Debra more times than I can count when she gets an email or a call asking her to speak somewhere or be on a jury in some far flung corner of the world, and she almost always says "YES!" and then hangs up and immediately looks at me and says "OH MY God!! WHY did I just agree to that?!!". Then follows hours of her on the computer and telephone trying to change her flights to be able to do all the crazy schedule she just committed to. That's when we crack out the vodka. And start scanning flights that can take her on this zig zagging tour of the world to give talks and give advice. That is Debra Zimmerman to me - literally devoted to women filmmakers and literally doing a thousand things at once all for this cause. And always looking to see what else she can do. Endless devotion.
I admire you so much Debra and believe you are a truly worthy recipient of the Doc Mogul award"
Congratulations and Much Love from Heather Croall
BBC Question Time
By Ben Taylor 25 April, 2013
Broadcaster and journalist Mark Lawson chairs a discussion about the integrity of documentary making. The discussion includes CEO of Wall to Wall Alex Graham, Head of Channel Four documentaries Angus McQueen, Brian Woods co founder of True Vision and documentary maker Molly Dineen.
The podcast addresses the process of documentary making in relation to choosing and cutting material and re-enacting reality. The question of truth and honesty is highlighted in relation to past and future documentaries. The confidence of documentary makers in regards to self censorship and manipulating material is identified to look at how the regulations around the field are changing the way in which documentaries are being produced.
There is conversation about past documentaries which have caused controversies, such as the BBC documentary, A Year with the Queen. The panel look at the reaction to such documentaries and whether the outcomes of these reactions were fair. The ethics of documentaries and the reality in which they depict it is queried to look at the future of documentary making.
Listen to this podcast by searching for Sheffield Doc/Fest on iTunes, where you can discover this and an archive of podcasts.
By Becca Fisher
How Was it For You?
By Ben Taylor 19 April, 2013
This podcast, chaired by Roger Graef, examines the relationships between film makers and their contributors to identify how these relationships alter the success of a documentary. Joseph Bullman, director of The Seven Sins of England and Marc Isaacs director of All White in Barking, are interviewed alongside their contributors to address their approach to filming.
Graef attempts to look into the filming process and bring to light the differences between the film makers to the contributors and how these differences can make or break a film’s production. There are questions of trust throughout filming which film makers have to earn; this trust is then a key to learning about underlying issues which are valuable for any documentary.
Graef asks the contributors of each documentary to give their reflections on their experiences. Gary Scott provides a thorough account of how the documentary, The Seven Sins of England, has been a real opportunity to get his working class opinions across. Scott has worked with Bullman twice now due to their excellent relationship, a topic which is heavily covered in the podcast, giving detail to their first meeting on a seventeen hour train ride.
The podcast includes clips from both documentaries which open up not only the making of the documentaries but their content, giving anyone who has not had the opportunity to catch them a preview.
Catch this podcast and others by searching for Sheffield Doc/Fest on iTunes, where you can discover this and an archive of podcasts.
By Becca Fisher
Im a Celebrity...Get me in a Documentary!
By Ben Taylor 12 April, 2013
Chair Janet Street-Porter and her panel of experts analyse the author documentary form and whether a celebrity presenter is needed to secure a documentaries success with the public. The podcast includes clips from documentaries stemming from the 1960s to identify how the documentary form has evolved.
Janet Street-Porter chairs the panel which includes the award winning film maker David Pearson, the Head of documentaries at the BBC Alan Hayling and executive from Diverse Adam Barker. These experts discuss the difference between an expert and celebrity presenter and the dynamics these types of documentaries produce. Does an audience need a presenter who is an expert or just someone who is a good communicator? Many factors lead into the debate, although with more documentaries looking to rattle their audience it is becoming more important for directors to ensure that the message that they are wishing to convey is sent in the correct manner.
The podcast includes discussion on popular and controversial documentaries such as the BBC documentary The Fatwa- Salman’s Story which focuses on social-political issues, as well as Rushdie as an individual. This combination seems to be most successful as audiences are able to relate and discover, leading to documentaries such as this to stimulate discussion.
But are celebrity authors a safe way to ensure this reaction? The panel argues that the documentary and its content needs to be surprising and well delivered to achieve this, so does this mean we should expect a decline in celebrity author documentaries?
Listen to this podcast by searching for Sheffield Doc/Fest on iTunes, where you can discover this and an archive of podcasts.
By Becca Fisher
Michael Moore Podcast
By Ben Taylor 15 March, 2013
Interviewed by Channel 4’s Stuart Cosgrove is the enigmatic documentary maker Michael Moore. Moore takes us back to the very beginning of his career and recounts his rise to fame and success after his controversial debut feature ‘Roger and Me’. Stemming from his childhood love for television and the movies, Moore began to develop his satirist style at an early age, making up his own imaginary TV shows. After a brief stint at a seminary and a fleeting career as a radical journalist, Moore attributes his return to his home town of Flint Michigan as the turning point in his career.
Upon discovering General Motors’, one of the richest corporations in the world, plans to fire over 30,000 members of staff Moore decided to build his first feature length documentary around the hunt for Roger Smith (Head of General Motors), to question him about his life impacting decisions for the residents of Flint.
Despite the personal monetary risk involved in making the film and the controversial subject, Moore did not give up, resulting in one of his most fascinating documentaries to date. Through an indictment of the economic system Moore reveals how a third world scene can exist within the walls of one of the world’s richest corporations.
Search iTunes for Sheffield Doc/Fest to download this episode and previous episodes of the Doc/Fest Podcast.
By Anna Pintus
How Far Can You Go?
By Ben Taylor 05 March, 2013
More4 chief Peter Dale and Channel 4 legal guru Prash Naik leads three hypothetical discussions on problems producers may encounter whilst pitching their documentary concepts to commissioners. From moral dilemmas to encounters with the legal system, these three role-play scenarios map out the do’s and don’ts when it comes to tackling difficult subject matter.
In part one Emma Cooper of the BBC puts to the panel the problems faced when discovering disregard for the law, within its own walls. After filming a recce in South Carolina and unearthing the police force’s misuse of confiscated drugs, a problem arises as whether to continue filming, consequently misleading the subjects as to the film’s purpose, or to cancel the filming and to report the findings.
Jo Abel, in part two, brings to the panel an encounter of domestic abuse whilst filming a documentary centred on a mother and her 11 year old daughter. Having only received the information from the daughter the panel is divided in how best to proceed with such a difficult case. In part three (available next week) Steve Bouton looks into the dilemma faced when attempting to use the documentary form to expose a suspected paedophile. After being acquitted by the courts is it right or fair to then release the perceived evidence to the public?
All lively and interesting debates from industry professionals, ‘How far can you go?’ can be found on iTunes at Sheffield Doc/Fest.
By Anna Pintus