Lots of photos, and another guest blog
By Charlie Phillips 12 November, 2008
So before I hand over to another guest blogger, a nudge on your shoulder to check our Flickr photostream which has a whole torrent of Doc/Fest photos, some of people looking serious and some of people looking silly. In the latter category, here's me, awarding a prize to the winner of one of the Cross-Platform pitching awards...
I love that suit. Anyway, here's the next guest blog, in a post-festival stylage, courtesy of Ian Francis from 7 inch Cinema, one of the greatest film organisations in the UK. It's a privilege to have him here. And he's totally right about Sleep Furiously, if not the smell of Doc/Fest. We smell like roses, right?
Towards the tail-end of film festivals you get a particular fetid, weary sort of hum. Entering the Showroom on Sunday morning I could feel (smell?) the accumulated hours of watching, drinking and blethering, but there was still a buzz about the place. My day return from Birmingham was repaid tenfold within an hour thanks to Sleep Furiously, Gideon Koppel’s beautifully deliberate portrait of a Welsh village. Minutiae of farming life (I always wondered how they wrapped up hay-bales), snatches of Aphex Twin (the editor’s friend) and a scene cutting between a choir-practice and some waves that had me blubbing like a fool.
Apart from that there was a panel discussion featuring various graphic novelists in person and on Skype, and a film about Burroughs cohort Brion Gysin and his scheme to create a drug-free high with the Dream-Machine. The presence of students eating nachos seemed a good sign that the balance between industry and punters was being maintained. Before running for my train I managed to have a chat with Lorenzo Fonda, whose film Megunica is also showing at our festival in March. Being a nice bloke as well as a really good filmmaker, he gave me a flipbook to take home; the ideal Mr Benn-like souvenir from a strangely unreal day.
Thank you Doc/Fest! Enjoy your sleep.
7 Inch Cinema [www.7inch.org.uk]
And We're Done...
By Charlie Phillips 10 November, 2008
Doc/Fest 2008 is over, we're all done, we're happy, we're tired, we hope you had a good time.
Seemed from all your comments that this was a mighty fine Doc/Fest. For us on the inside, it's not easy to know how everything went down unless you tell us. I mean, I spent 2 days entirely in the MeetMarket so anything that happened on Friday or Saturday totally passed me by.
So I want to know how it was for you! Tell us everything you saw, heard, did. It's your thoughts and memories that will document Doc/Fest 2008, so bring 'em out.
And if you've got photos too, then email them to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject photo2008 and/or upload them to Flickr and tag them with ‘Sheffield Doc/Fest 2008’.
Nick Fraser blogging on The Indy
By Charlie Phillips 08 November, 2008
There's blogging aplenty going on round these parts, not least on The Independent, where Nick Fraser is writing some great stuff.
And a big mention to to Agnes Varnum's Doc it Out - she's here and she's a-bloggin'.
And on the video side of things, have you seen our vodcasts ?
Are you writing, vlogging or similar about Doc/Fest too at the moment? Tell us!
YOUTH JURY BLOG: The Wild Frontier of Documentary
By Anastasia Vaskova 08 November, 2008
In Submarine Production's recent film, "Molotov Alva and His Search for the Creator: A Second Life Odyssey", the protagonist rejects real life in preference for an existence on Second Life. It culminates with his joyful proclamation that: "Whatever connection I had with that carbon-based world has gone" and yet into this Second Life, he has taken carbon copies, images of those in the outside non-virtual world which he now worships as icons.
This description, given by Femke Wolfing at the 'Non-linear storytelling' event on Thrusday (a part of the Digi-Docs 360 mini-strand at this year's Doc/Fest) seemed to embody an apparent paradox in the online open-platform format. In one sense, online documentary content is a transference of the carbon world into the virtual, but in another, it appears to have a life of its own, a communal narrative space to share content, be it either emotional (the confessional blog) or physical (the collected image) content.
Adam Gee from Channel 4 sees it as "creating an infrastructure for narrative, not narrative itself" and his work with sites such as 'Big Art Mob' and (most recently) 'Embarrassing Bodies' seems to bear this out, judging by the vast amount of user-uploaded content. He sees a new viewing public, reading across narratives, half-watched and impatiently fragmented. But unlike the Molotov Alva character in the Submarine film, this seems to inform their Carbon Life and perhaps even to better it.
The digital platform, however is being extended well beyond these clear-cut parameters. And whereas Submarine's current work "Energy Wars", empowers an audience (if they can still be called that) to affect the narrative action in a game scenario, the work of Blast Theory takes this even further. They are utilising the 'cultural spaces opened up by mobile technology' not only within a virtual framework but in physical life – in 'Rider Spoke' computers on bike handle bars ask their riders for confessionals and resolutions, determining and defining the rider's experience of the city.
Perhaps this all feels a bit sinister – web platforms with a life of their own and technology which is instructing rather than being utilised. But the work of all the filmmakers at this event was testament to what can be achieved on this horizon-line of documentary. The mimetic blur between life and culture has always existed and if this further smudging merely causes you to rethink the way things are, these platforms are fulfilling an important role.
Jon Parker, Youth Jury.
Scenes of a Graphic Nature
By Charlie Phillips 08 November, 2008
Sophie Fiennes on PSB
By Charlie Phillips 05 November, 2008
So a special guest blog here as the festival kicks into action on Day 1. Over to
Houses rise and fall, commissioners come and go, and some cling on for dear life, but how can the structure of film funding in the UK change to up the game of the broadcasters and respond to the real challenges that face film makers?
FILMAKERS! Before you cut off your ear, or just give up out of sheer exhaustion, join the debate about the future of PBS in the UK.
I am grateful to the Sheffield Doc/Fest for acting as a necessary provocateur and I look forward to attending the following discussions:
Filmmakers have a political role to play in defining the shape of PSB things to come. Here is my response to the current climate in UK broadcasting and a suggestion for a new structural model. Click on this link to read a proposal.
Thriller in Manila on the Today Show
By Hussain Currimbhoy 04 November, 2008
Joe Frazier and the director talk about our opening night knock out doc Thriller In Manila :
Thriller in Manila on the Today show
Frazier is very gracious - but wait till you see the film and judge for yourself.
John Dower and producer John Smithson will be here at the festival to present the film and have a Q&A after the film on Wed Nov 5 at 19:00.
Thriller screens again on Saturday Nov 8 at 19:00. Tix are selling out so get in quick!
By Hussain Currimbhoy 04 November, 2008
Election fever has swept over the Atlantic like storm.
An insight into the shift in the mood in US politics is perfectly placed in MOVE ON, the work-in-progess doc produced by Doc/Fest regular Rita Dagher.
Screening on Thursday Nov 6 at 21:15.
REM's Michael Stipe and DJ/Musician Moby feature in the film and talk about how a some impassioned emails from a young concerned political commentator turned into a powerful force in US politics.
If today's election in the USA goes like we think it will be huge vindication for the grass roots group Moveon.org that has caused a political storm in this seemingly endless election lead up.
Check out the people just took the power back!
Joel Heller from Docs That Inspire on Doc/Fest
By Charlie Phillips 04 November, 2008
Over to Joel Heller from Docs That Inspire for another guest blog...
If you haven't seen Margaret Brown's THE ORDER OF MYTHS, please don't miss it when it screens on the 6th and 7th this week. It's my favorite doc of the year, not only for its masterful editing, humor and poetic voice, but for Brown's skillful handling of a subject as complex as present-day segregation in the deep South.
I felt such a connection to this film, I flew to Mobile, Alabama in July so I could be in the 2,000 seat Saenger Theater when Margaret showed her film for the first time to a hometown audience. I was deeply curious to see how it would play in the Deep South, where politeness and decorum so often come at the expense of truth-telling.
It was amazing evening that stirred reactions in the city as diverse as the opening nights' standing ovation to a anonymous submission published in the local newspaper calling for the film to be "destroyed."
What moved me the most was hearing the palpable sense of relief during the screening among the various participants of the film as their conflicting voices and truths were witnessed by each other...and then what seemed like the entire city engaged in a conversation about the film in the days that followed.
I'll leave it to Margaret to fill you in on the rest of the juicy details. (And Margaret: please bring the juicy details of Sheffield back to Austin!).
Danielle from IndiePix on Doc/Fest
By Charlie Phillips 03 November, 2008
As Americans are (hopefully) celebrating Obama's election, I will be delighting in the stimulating pleasures of what is sure to be an amazing documentary festival in Sheffield. I will be there with my colleague and partner-in-crime at IndiePix Films, Ryan Harrington, to take Meet Market meetings, present on panels, watch films, and of course, rollerskate.
IndiePix will be looking to find films both to acquire for North American distribution (everything from small theatrical to download rights) as well as for potential films to fund for our fledgling (and thriving) IndiePix Studios arms.
I'm particularly excited about the panel I am producing on Distribution (That Old Chestnut, indeed) which will be moderated by the indefatigable Debbie Zimmerman of Women Make Movies and features Ryan. I'll be there with bells on -- it will be held on Saturday at 10:30 am in the Furnival (don't know what that means but it sounds so very Harry Potter-esque). I'll also be presenting on a Newcomers Day panel Thursday at 14:30 about non-traditional, digital opportunities of distribution.
Tireless IndiePix CEO Bob Alexander and COO Sally Plourde will also be at the Fest for the first couple of days. Team IndiePix will be running around like headless chickens, but will be able to take a break and enjoy a cocktail (or seven) at our opening night gala on Wednesday at the Showroom Bar (not just a party, a GALA, folks!). So join us!