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Molly Dineen in conversation with Sukdev Sandhu

By Maria Stoneman 30 January, 2014

Molly Dineen, one of the UK’s most distinguished documentary filmmakers, is reputable for her intimate, probing portrayals of British individuals and institutions. Uncovering the techniques behind her highly-acclaimed work, in this droll and revealing session curated by Sukdev Sandhu, Molly speaks candidly of her experience of renegotiating the tenuous relationship between filmmaker and subject, touching on pivotal moments from her extensive career. Animatedly, she recalls shooting eccentric ex- Army colonel Hilary Hook, whom achieved celebrity status after appearing in her debut student Doc ‘Home from The Hill’ in the eighties, to a clashing of horns with Spice Girls’ star Geri Halliwell in 1999.

Championing precious insights into the lives of her subjects, Molly confronts the overuse of music in documentaries and why, for her, silence is truly golden. Passionate about unmasking the humanity beneath an individual’s assumed power or packaging, she addresses the discrepancies of maintaining a healthy tension between shooting a character that is reluctant to be filmed, against that of shooting an egomaniac, whose tenacious appetite for celebrity is only augmented by the ‘sluttish access’ of the camera lens.

Questions around casting and performance, and striking the ultimate balance between life as a kick-ass documentarian and doting mother, are met with sincerity and spunk, in this engaging and heartfelt session.

To listen, head over to iTunes and search ‘Sheffield Doc/Fest’, where you can find our archive of podcasts.

Written by Lucie Eaton

Peter Wintonick

By Charlie Phillips 20 November, 2013

You have probably heard by now that Peter Wintonick passed away this week.

Peter WIntonick was a legend in our lives and an essential element of the spirit of Sheffield Doc/Fest. His attitude towards collaboration, truth and community was inspirational in how Doc/Fest is run, and continues to be so. His sense of fun, adventure and commitment to peace and revolution will never be out of our thoughts as we plan future Sheffield Doc/Fests.

Peter was not simply a co-member of the international documentary community, he was our close collaborator and constant inspiration. Festival Director Heather Croall first met him 20 years ago and has countless stories of their times conspiring on subversive programmes and projects at documentary festivals across the world. Together, they were early voices in advocating for the importance of interactive media to documentary, with Peter being a key part of the early Digi Docs and Crossover programmes from the late 1990's through to bringing it all to Sheffield in 2006. Peter was always on the forefront with the new ideas in documentary and digital media and the one we frequently turned to when we wanted to talk about innovation in form and content.

He advocated that people agitate and change the world however they can, he saw the digicam as a tool for change, he hoped for a new language, a new lexicon in media. He's rightfully been called the ambassador for documentary, but he was more than that - he was an ambassador for experimenting, an ambassador for truth. Fearlessly committed to films that really do change the world rather than just tell us they do, he was a rare combination of deep intelligent ideas and accessible audience-friendly filmmaking. He was also the king of madcap poetry and alliteration. It was sometimes impossible to keep up.

A mentor to all of us here at Sheffield Doc/Fest, his loss is a deeply sad one - we've lost our friend, our hero, our source of great wordplay and films that challenged us. We've lost one of our favourite dancefloor partners. But we know Peter's spirit lives on in all of us, and we will dedicate our work helping documentary filmmakers in future years to him. He may have passed on, but we will all keep his light shining well into the future. Peter Wintonick is immortal.

You can read lots of the tributes to him here in the Be Here Now book

GUEST BLOG // Paa Joe & The Lion part 4

By Chris Black 08 November, 2013

We're in the final stretch of our Kickstarter campaign!

It's the last week and we're 3/4 of the way to our target! We've had a few surprises - including a pledge from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy actor Toby Jones!

As part of a crowdfunding campaign there are so many different things you have to do to promote your film and get people's attention.

Some of these are exactly what you might expect - sending out 100s of emails and press releases, giving dozens of interviews to press, TV and radio stations, sweet talking innumerable PAs, receptionists and agents trying to reach just the right influential ear.

Then sometimes you find yourself doing some unexpected and extraordinary things too such as offering to wear a lion onesie, mistaking a Lord for an estate agent on the phone, and moving a giant lion coffin through the streets of Nottingham.

If you haven't tried it then we can tell you it's all really good fun. Crowdfunding can be nerve-wracking, challenging, tiring but it's definitely also a right laugh!

So, if you've got a bob or two to spare then pop over and pledge to help us finish our film Paa Joe & The Lion. We've got awesome rewards to give as thank yous - like t-shirts, tote bags, a VIP Doc/Fest pass and more! We've got £5k to raise in 5 days, can you help us do it?


GUEST BLOG // Paa Joe & The Lion part 3

By Chris Black 01 November, 2013

Let the fawning commence...

We know it's not very British but we've loosened our stiff upper lips and over on the Paa Joe & The Lion blog we've gotten a bit emotional.

The reason for this outpouring is that the very generous people behind Sheffield Doc/Fest have offered us an incredible reward for our Kickstarter campaign. Not only have they let us have a full Delegate Pass to Doc/Fest 2014 but one lucky Paa Joe & The Lion backer will get an exclusive one-to-one (shall we call it a date? Yes. Yes, we shall!) with the festival's Deputy Director, Charlie Phillips.

Considering Doc/Fest is one of the greatest film festivals we've ever been to in the world AND Charlie Phillips is perhaps the nicest man we've ever met this is a huge coup for us.

To find out exactly why we love Doc/Fest so much head over to our tumblr now for a post from our producer Anna Griffin (spoiler alert: it involves roller skating and real ale!)

Before reading her deliriously happy memories of the festival there, let us just say right here and now what an incredible event it is and what thoroughly wonderful people the Doc/Fest crew are - thanks dudes!


For more information about the ultra limited edition Doc/Fest reward and other goodies head to our Kickstarter page now.

The Sound Carries the Emotion, the Picture Bears the Facts: A Technical Masterclass in Sound Recording, with Kim Longinotto

By Festival Assistant 01 November, 2013

In this podcast chaired by James Mullighan, Kim Longinotto discusses her extensive use of sound recordists, and in doing so, offers an insight into the relationship between camera and sound.

By detailing the sometimes ‘balletic’ process and simple ingenuinity of her sound recordist’s work, Longinotto demonstrates how the inclusion of this medium not only embellishes her documentaries, but also offers a vital contribution to her films.

For her, having a sound recordist on hand is a no-brainer. Aside from the obvious perk of having a sound expert on board, Longinotto animatedly expresses how important she finds the human contact, and the alternative perspective she gains when filming hundreds of miles away from home.

In spite of these benefits, this relationship complicates the process of Longinotto’s filmmaking. Her oeuvre is renowned for its hard-hitting and emotive subject matter. But where Longinotto is hardened both by her drive and her extensive experience in observational documentary filmmaking, this is not always the case with her sound recordist. By exposing another person to her subject matter, she also exposes them to the kinds of huge ethical dilemma Longinotto has tackled throughout her career.

This podcast goes beyond that of a technical Masterclass; it draws attention to the difficult relationship between the mechanics of filmmaking, and its human element. By including another person in her filmmaking, Longinotto creates a layered experience that brings the debate of the ethics of filmmaking to the foreground of her process.

To listen to this podcast go to iTunes and search for Sheffield Doc/Fest where you will find our archive of podcasts.

By Lucie Rymer

Film submission for Doc/Fest Open!

By Hussain Currimbhoy 28 October, 2013

And the submissions race is on!

Doc/Fest is now accepting submissions of short, medium and feature length films for consideration to next year's festival.

This is easily the most fun time of the programming: we get to see what is really playing on the minds of filmmakers, students, producers, and artists at large and select the very best for the programme.

If you are reading this and you have a film to submit, please go to our submissions page and fill in the form and send us your film. If you know someone making a film the best thing you can do is encourage them to enter. This is where so many of our submissions come from: people telling other people to submit.

One of the big changes for this year is our format for accepting submissions: we are now only taking films on Vimeo. When we think about all the paper, plastic, energy and cost it takes to make a DVD and send it to Sheffield it really makes sense to start making the shift to digital submissions now. It can take several hours to upload a film to Vimeo so please do take this into account when you are entering your film. If you are really having trouble with it please drop me a line and we will work something out.

I also encourage you to send us your best version of your film. We will accept an off-line cut, but not a rough cut. You want to give you film the best chance possible so send us the best you can.

We are keeping submissions open until January 24th, 2014. It might sound like plenty of time but it ain't! So get your film in now.

GUEST BLOG // Paa Joe & The Lion part 2

By Chris Black 22 October, 2013

Handy hints for a happy Kickstarter video

This week we were looking at the outtakes from the footage we shot for our Kickstarter video. Our director Ben Wigley thought it'd be a good idea if we put together some tips for any other filmmakers who were thinking of crowdfunding too.

It'll give a little insight into just how hard working Ben is...and how much more comfortable he is behind the camera!

Hopefully you'll find it useful. At the very least, you ought to have a good chuckle.

Feel free to keep a closer eye on our campaign here and share our story...and, heck, if you'd like to pledge yourself who are we to stop you!!!

For more information see: http://paajoe.artdocs.co.uk

GUEST BLOG // Paa Joe & The Lion documentary

By Chris Black 15 October, 2013

After weeks of planning and hard work we finally launched our Kickstarter campaign. It's a very nerve-wracking experience, but one that we are all very excited to embark upon. Crowdfunding is a new way of approaching financing a film for many of the Paa Joe team, so we've had to learn quite a lot. Luckily, there are a number of similarities to the 'old model' - you're still pitching and trying to persuade others to invest, which we've done before with some success.

What's nice about Kickstarter and other crowdfunding sites though, is that the process is now open to film fans in a much more accessible way. It offers an opportunity to get to know your audience very directly, and for our audience to really become a part of the film and the Paa Joe team.

Plus we get to say a special thanks for their support with fun creative rewards for the funding pledges. I think it's safe to say that we're the only Kickstarter campaign to offer a miniature coffin shaped like a fish!

I'm sure there will be many challenges and surprises over the coming weeks, but we are already off to a very positive start. We've had pledges from our nation's capital and the Big Apple. And we're delighted to report we're fast approaching 10% of our target after only a few days... Just another £18,000 to go and we're there!

Feel free to keep a closer eye on our campaign here and share our story...and, heck, if you'd like to pledge yourself who are we to stop you!!!

For more information see:



On Tour with Bradley Wiggins

By Festival Assistant 11 October, 2013

In its 100-year history no British rider had won the world’s most demanding sporting event, the Tour De France. Until last year. Days later Bradley Wiggins also won gold at his home Olympics.

Director John Dower had access to this extraordinary year. ‘On Tour With Bradley Wiggins’ looks behind the scenes at how a film was made about a man who hates journalists and is a self-confessed loner who prefers the privacy of his own shed to company of others. How do you go about making an intimate portrait of a complex character, who is also an athlete in the midst of intense competition?

In this podcast cycling journalist John Green and film director John Dower come together to discuss the making of the film. This conversation offers key insights into the hard graft Dower undertook in order to obtain the story.
Not only is Wiggins notoriously disenchanted by the media, he also spends six hours a day training on his bike. As such, Dower found it pertinent to explore a variety of sources and storytellers. He joined Twitter to access Bradley’s online persona. He had to woo and win round Bradley’s wife, offering her flowers in order to tap into Bradley’s family life. Crucially, he also built a up a relationship with Wiggo's hilarious Mick Dundee-esque coach Shane Sutton, who not only offered unique insights into his athlete’s life, but also acted as an off-camera confidante and aid.

What these conversations highlight is the importance of steady relationship building between the filmmaker and their subjects. By taking the time to connect with his subjects in a more natural and honest way, Dower facilitates the capture of golden comic exchanges between coach and athlete. It is these efforts which ultimately enable the director to glean challenging subject matter from this reclusive, sporting giant, and makes the film the powerful document we see today.

To listen to this podcast go to iTunes and search for Sheffield Doc/Fest where you will find our archive of podcasts.

By Lucie Rymer

BBC Question Time

By Festival Assistant 26 September, 2013

This BBC Question time session debates issues that affect the continuity of the renaissance of documentary making. Panelists include Angus Macqueen, Roger Graef, Richard Woolfe, Sarah Hargreaves, Katie Derham and James Walton.

Questioning whether there is a body of filmmakers to train the next generation, the session confirms that there is a need to create communities that will allow the younger generation to learn from their elders. Opportunities for new filmmakers are vital in order to avoid stultifying the documentary industry.

Discussing the topic of reality TV and ‘docu-soap’ questions whether it a good thing that the boundaries between drama and documentary are becoming blurred? The panelists suggest that dramatizing reality does not always help our understanding of it.

To listen to this podcast go to iTunes and search for Sheffield Doc/Fest where you will find our archive of podcasts.
By Alex Lee