A northern soul

We are proud to announce the Opening Night Film for the 25th edition, taking place from 7 – 12 June. Winner of the 2015 Grand Jury Prize with A Syrian Love Story, internationally renowned, Yorkshire-born director Sean McAllister brings the BBC Two/BFI World Premiere of A Northern Soul to Sheffield’s City Hall on Thursday 7 June, plus Q&A.

 Still from A Northern Soul of Steve Looking at Sunset

Opening Night Film: A Northern Soul + Q&A 
Directed by Sean McAllister, produced by Sean McAllister and Elhum Shakerifar
UK / 2018 / World Premiere
Thu 7 June / 6pm / City Hall, Oval Hall

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In the film, McAllister returns to his Yorkshire hometown of Hull as creative director of the opening ceremony of the City of Culture celebrations: living back with his 90 year-old parents, McAllister reflects on the changes to a city hit by cuts in public spending and divided by Brexit and where more than 1 in 3 children are living in poverty. Drawn to the fringes of town, McAllister met and started filming with Steve Arnott, a struggling warehouse worker by day and hip-hop performer by night, who harbours his own creative dream. Says Sean McAllister, “Back home in Hull, where I began, I have been filming Steve and wondering whether he can, against the odds, unlock the opportunities to build a better life? Is social mobility possible in cities like Hull? What role does culture have to play in this? How long can he hold onto his dreams for?"

Director Sean McAllister is known for his candid, frank films, depicting with extraordinary intimacy the lives of ordinary people who are struggling to survive but are survivors, caught up in political and personal conflict, struggling to make sense of the world we live in. From his early films Working For The Enemy (1997) and The Minders (1998), Sundance Jury Prize-winning The Liberace Of Baghdad (2004) and Japan: A Story Of Love And Hate (2008) to his more recent successes, The Reluctant Revolutionary and Sheffield Grand Jury Prize winning, BAFTA nominated A Syrian Love Story (2015), Sean’s work continues to inspire, to surprise and to fascinate audiences.  Hull 2017’s film programme was supported by the BFI with National Lottery funding.

A Northern Soul is produced by Elhum Shakerifar (Even When I Fall 2017, Almost Heaven 2017, A Syrian Love Story 2015,) and Sean McAllister for BBC Two, with support from the BFI awarding funds from the National Lottery, Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Sharp House.

Prior to the Opening Night Film, we invite everyone to join us for Preview Reception of the Alternate Realities Exhibition at 5pm, free entry.

Following the Opening Night Film, help us kick off the Festival in style with drinks and dancing as we celebrate our 25th Edition with Opening Night Drinks from 8.30pm – 1am. Click here to purchase tickets.

The full line-up for the Sheffield Doc/Fest 2018 programme will be announced on Thursday 3 May. Tickets to Opening Night are included in a Festival Pass; click here to purchase.