Meet the Team

A composite of staff photos of the DocFest Team


Alex Cooke, Chair
Brian Woods, Deputy Chair 
Derren Lawford 
Helen Scott 
Jo Clinton-Davis 
Madonna Benjamin 
Peter Armstrong 
Shirani Sabaratnam 
Diana Buckley (Sheffield City Council observer)
Sue Cook (Arts Council England observer)






Cíntia Gil - Festival Director 

Before joining Doc/Fest, from 2012 to 2020, Cíntia Gil served as co-director (and later, Director) of Doclisboa in Portugal, where she was responsible for the festival’s collaboration with the European consortium Doc Alliance, as well as for the creation of the Ibero-American project development lab Arche. In Addition, she has been a member of the Executive Board of Apordoc, the Portuguese Documentary Film Association, since 2015. Gil is a regular guest at panel discussions and conferences, and on international festival juries such as Berlinale, Mar del Plata, FIDMarseille, London Film Festival, Guadalajara IFF, RIDM, Dokufest, among many others.

Melanie Iredale - Deputy Director 

Melanie Iredale has been Sheffield Doc/Fest’s Deputy Director since 2014, having been involved first as Development Consultant since 2010, and serving as Interim Director of the 2019 edition. She also co-curates Doc/Fest’s Rhyme & Rhythm section. Born and raised in Yorkshire, Melanie’s background is as a film and arts curator and festival producer. As former Director of Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival on the English-Scottish border, she commissioned moving image works, installations and performances for heritage sites, which have since gone on to tour to festivals and galleries world-wide. Melanie serves on the BIFA jury for the documentary award, is regularly invited to speak on inclusion and ethics in the industry, and has participated on juries including Nordisk Panorama, ZagrebDox and One World Media. She is also an Executive Producer on Rebel Dykes, a film by Harri Shanahan and Sian Williams which will premiere in Spring 2021.

Patrick Hurley - Director of Industry 
patrick.hurley [at]

With the Festival since 2017, Patrick leads on Doc/Fest’s Industry Programme encompassing the MeetMarket, Arts Talent Market, pitches, industry sessions and talent development initiatives. Formerly Distribution Manager at Dogwoof from 2012-16, Patrick has worked closely with filmmakers, producers and partners on a diverse slate of over 100 documentary releases. Prior to working in film, Patrick was a Researcher and Senior Tutor in the Department of Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney focusing on Geopolitics, International Security, Political Analysis and Qualitative Methods.

Sylvia Bednarz - Director of Partnerships & Development 
sylvia.bednarz [at]

Ahead of joining the DocFest team in 2013, Sylvia worked in documentary film and TV production, beginning her career as Production Coordinator on the feature documentary 'The Age of Stupid'. She then joined Current TV as an Associate Producer, working alongside the commissioning editor to manage both single and series documentaries from development through to broadcast. At DocFest Sylvia develops new and existing partnerships across the UK and internationally.


Artistic Programme 

Cíntia Gil

Melanie Iredale (UK Competition, Rhyme & Rhythm)

Rabz Lansiquot (Rebellions, Ghosts & Apparitions)

Rabz Lansiquot is a filmmaker, programmer, curator, and DJ. They were a leading member of sorryyoufeeluncomfortable collective from its inception in 2014, and now work alongside Imani Robinson as Languid Hands, who are the Cubitt Curatorial Fellows for 2020-21. Rabz was Curator-In-Residence at LUX Moving Image in 2019, developing a public and educational programme around Black liberatory cinema. Their first solo exhibition where did we land was on view at LUX in Summer 2019. They have curated film programmes at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), Scottish Queer International Film Festival (SQIFF), and Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival (BFMAF), were a programme advisor for LFF Experimenta in 2019, and on the selection committee for Doc/Fest 2020. Rabz is also training to deliver workshops in Super 8 and eco-processing at not.nowhere.


Mita Suri (Film Programme Producer and selection for Northern Focus)
mita.suri [at]

With a background in community cinema exhibition, Mita Suri started working in Doc/Fest as a volunteer, then supported the Doc/Circuit tour as a Distribution Trainee, moving on to be the Film Programme Coordinator and now the Film Programme Producer, supervising the delivery of the Film Programme for the festival. She is primarily responsible for the external contacts including filmmakers, national film institutes and distributors, managing the submissions process, running the Youth Jury Programme and coordinating Doc/Fest's year-round activity outside of the festival. Mita's previous work experience has been in health services' management, youth leadership initiatives and as support teaching staff in schools within the UK and abroad. Mita is a programmer for the Northern Focus film strand.


Jamie Allan (DocFest Exchange Film Programme)
jamie.allan [at]

With a background in community cinema and documentary film production across the fields of environmental science and global health, Jamie Allan is passionate about how transdisciplinary collaboration and collective filmmaking practices can create space for alternative forms of storytelling, production, exhibition and distribution. He has a Masters in Documentary Film Directing from the DocNomads itinerant film school in Lisbon, Budapest and Brussels, and is currently a researcher with the Collective Practices Post-Master at the Royal Institute of Art, Stockholm. Since 2017 Jamie has been part of Cinecaravan – a mobile cinema project which hosts filmmaking workshops and screens short documentaries in geographically and socially remote communities across Europe. Jamie also co-curates the annual HOME Artist Film Weekender and was formerly Assistant Producer of Visual Art at HOME, Manchester’s centre for contemporary art, theatre and film.


Hannah Campbell (Arts Programme Producer)
hannah.campbell [at]


Hannah has a range of experience producing and curating multi-disciplinary arts exhibitions, events and performances and enjoys working closely with artists to realise their projects. She holds an MSc in Modern and Contemporary Art History from the University of Edinburgh and is fascinated by the intersections between contemporary art and research. Prior to joining the Doc/Fest team, she worked with the National Galleries of Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, Summerhall in Edinburgh, the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) in Glasgow; Inverleith House, Fruitmarket Gallery, Talbot Rice Gallery, and Museums Sheffield, among others. With past experience in teaching, Hannah has a particular interest in community engagement and arts education. Born and raised in Sheffield, Hannah has a true love of the city and its people.


Industry Programme

Patrick Hurley (Director of Industry)
patrick.hurley [at]

With the Festival since 2017, Patrick leads on Doc/Fest’s Industry Programme encompassing the MeetMarket, Arts Talent Market, pitches, industry sessions and talent development initiatives. Formerly Distribution Manager at Dogwoof from 2012-16, Patrick has worked closely with filmmakers, producers and partners on a diverse slate of over 100 documentary releases. Prior to working in film, Patrick was a Researcher and Senior Tutor in the Department of Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney focusing on Geopolitics, International Security, Political Analysis and Qualitative Methods. 


Sophie Duncan (Talent Development Producer)
sophie.duncan [at]

Manchester-based Sophie started as an intern at DocFest in 2018 and just can’t stay away, now working in the Industry team. Following her graduation from Edge Hill University, she began volunteering at Rianne Pictures. As part of this team, she helped create Women X Film Festival where she is a Senior Programmer - the event uplifts women and non-binary filmmakers. She is also Documentary Pre-Selector at London Short Film Festival. Previously, Sophie has worked at BFI Flare, Leeds International Film Festival, and Open City Documentary Festival. In addition to films, she co-hosts an LGBTQ+ Book Club, and can usually be heard making bad puns.


Community Programme 

Laura Hegarty (Community Programme Producer)
laura.hegarty [at]

Laura works in a variety of disciplines across arts, culture and communities—specialising in film, theatre and music. Recent work includes roles at Sheffield Theatres, Ignite Imaginations and the Showroom Cinema - all with a focus on working collaboratively with audiences; the potential art and culture has to connect people and fight inequality; and a belief that everyone should have access to art and culture in the places that they live. Laura is a fellow of the Arts Marketing Association Audience Diversity Academy and is currently part of the Brighter Sound Leaders Network - 2021.


Jamie Allan (DocFest Exchange Programmer)
jamie.allan [at]


Communications, Partnerships, & Press

Sylvia Bednarz (Director of Partnerships & Development)
sylvia.bednarz [at]

Emma McCorkell (UK Press Officer)

Having returned from living and working in Los Angeles for Netflix in 2015/16, Emma decided to start a new venture in the UK, focusing on entertainment publicity, where clients can build a bespoke team, at varying scales, choosing from a wide pool of super experienced and talented freelancers. Prior to her time at Netflix she was the Managing Director of London-based film publicity outfit Organic.  She moved over to Organic in 2011 and led the PR team to two successful wins for PR Team of the Year at The Screen International PR & Marketing Awards in 2012 and 2015.  She joined Organic after 5 years at Rogers & Cowan, where she ran the UK team as VP of publicity.
She began her career as an intern at Columbia Tristar, now Sony Pictures Entertainment, where she focused on international publicity before joining Denmead Marketing as an account director where she developed her UK publicity skills for both film and television. During her career, McCorkell has also worked as a freelance consultant for Premier PR, DDA PR, Warner Bros and The Walt Disney Company. Working across all platforms for UK and International campaigns, Blockbusters and Indie Films from unit through to release.


Gloria Zerbinati (International Press Officer)
gloria.zerbinati [at]

Cinephile and press attaché; for films and festivals, Gloria supports communications of arthouse and mainstream film titles. Apart from Sheffield Doc/Fest, Gloria is also the publicist of the following festivals: International Film Festival Rotterdam, FIDMarseille, Visions du Réel in Nyon and the Bergamo Film Meeting.


Eleni Stavrou (Communications Assistant)
eleni.stavrou [at]

Eleni is a visual artist, designer and a graduate of the Sheffield Institute of Arts, where she occasionally returns to lecture in Graphic Design. When not at Doc/Fest, find her hatching plans with pals at FLAW Collective – a space for marginalised genders, including women, trans and non-binary people to share skills, collaborate and inspire. Contact her for all things communications and marketing related.


Access, Operations, Production & Finance:

Mat Steel (Head of Production & Operations)
mat.steel [at]

Since 1998, Mat has worked in both production and artist roles on numerous film, sound, and arts events, at festivals and galleries in the UK and abroad. He became a freelance production manager in 2003 and first contributed to Sheffield Doc/Fest in 2004, working on every Doc/Fest since then in an ever-growing capacity.


Maria Stoneman (Head of HR & Participation (Maternity Leave))

Originally from a theatre direction and dance theatre background, Maria has been part of the DocFest team since 2012 when she was the Festival Administrator, then Head of Operations & HR in 2015 and as of 2020; Head of HR & Participation. She particularly enjoys being part of "Team Ops" and working closely with the Production team on "making the magic happen". She is an advocate for access at the festival and the wider arts community and continues to develop a variety of programme initiatives to enable access to all at the festival. In her spare time, she attends the theatre, enjoys running, cycling, yoga and trying to cook whilst handling the sass from Gerry, the cat. (He's gorgeous though). Ask her for information about educational partnerships, community outreach initiatives, questions or concerns about accessibility at the festival, festival recruitment and work placement opportunities.


Nigel Fischer (Talks & Digital Producer)
nigel.fischer [at]

Nigel Fischer leads on the curation and production of the public talks and industry sessions strand of the Festival, having previously worked for DocFest as producer of the Crossover Summit (now Arts Summit). Before joining Sheffield DocFest, Nigel worked as Project Manager for independent arts agency The Culture Company, where he produced and managed cultural projects, artist support programmes and public art events.


Lee Bentham (Operations & Admin Coordinator)
lee.bentham [at]

Lee volunteered at several different festivals before deciding to pursue it as a career. He has previously worked as a production assistant for film and television, taught filmmaking to kids in the USA, and even worked on a live YouTube show from a skyscraper in Toronto. Now, he's settled back in the UK and a part of the DocFest team. He bets you can't beat him in a bicycle race. 


Fiona Outram (Finance Manager)
fiona.outram [at]

Fiona has 17 years' accounting experience in various industries including Real Estate Investment Management, Manufacturing, Reprographics and Brand Management. Before embarking on her career in finance, she worked as a lifeguard and as a kitchen porter, and outside of work her hobbies include herding cats. This CV made her the ideal candidate to lead the finance team at Doc/Fest when the role came up in 2015.


Cassie Fletcher (Assistant Accountant)
cassie.fletcher [at]

Cassie wanted to be a banker, but she lost interest. So instead she joined the Doc/Fest team. At Doc/Fest Cassie assists with the accounts. Please contact her if you have any exciting questions about VAT.

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