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Press Release: Thursday 3 May

Doc/Fest 2018 Trailer
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Sheffield Doc/Fest Announces Programme Highlights For 25th Edition





Sheffield Doc/Fest celebrates its 25th edition in 2018 with a six-day line-up celebrating the art and business of documentary and non-fiction through film, interactive and immersive story forms, special events and live performance, plus talks by on-screen talent and makers. This year’s programme features 200 documentary features and shorts, 27 interactive and immersive projects, including seven virtual reality installations in the Alternate Realities Exhibition held at Trafalgar Warehouse, plus special events and talks and industry sessions. To celebrate the 25th edition Doc/Fest will present three Festival commissions: DOUBLETHINK, by renowned artists and filmmakers Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard (20,000 Days on Earth) written by Stuart Evers and performed by George MacKay (Pride, Sunshine on Leith) with support from Wellcome; the Alternate Realities Commission, Face to Face supported by Arts Council England, and Warp Records artist GAIKA will perform a new live score responding to Khalik Allah’s Black Mother.


Says Liz McIntyre, Festival Director & CEO, Sheffield Doc/Fest, “When Doc/Fest was born in 1994, the world was ushering in a remarkable era of new power and influence: the world wide web, President Mandela and the end of the Cold War. A quarter of a century on, stories abound at Doc/Fest that question anew what power we each hold or lack politically, socially and in our personal and professional relationships. Doc/Fest 2018 is alive with a new wave of diverse filmmakers responding to these extraordinary times and disrupting the status quo.”

The Festival opens on Thursday 7 June with the World premiere of Sean McAllister’s A Northern Soul who returns to his hometown of Hull where he meets and starts filming Steve Arnott, a struggling warehouse worker by day and hip-hop performer by night, who harbours his own creative dream. Sean McAllister and Steve Arnott will attend the Festival Opening at City Hall and take part in post screening questions and answers.

The opening evening of the Festival will also screen a special preview of Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui’s McQueen which uses archival footage and personal testimonials to present an intimate portrait of revolutionary British fashion designer ‘Lee’ Alexander McQueen, the working-class boy who became a global one-man fashion brand.


This year’s Special Events line-up features live, interactive and immersive storytelling experiences which complement the six-day Festival programme. Live performance events include a vibrant night from São Paulo pop star Linn da Quebrada, follows the screening of Kiko Goifman and Claudia Priscilla’s Teddy Award winning Tranny Fag, a candid profile of this black trans woman whose explicit anthems give voice to marginalised communities from the favelas; Thurston Moore (of Sonic Youth) will perform live following the UK premiere of Stuart Swezey’s Desolation Center which vividly portrays the untold story of a series of guerrilla desert gatherings now recognised as the inspiration for Burning Man and Coachella festivals; world-class beatboxer and vocal artist Reeps One presents the World premiere of his new live show Reeps One presents: We Speak Music Live, which blends the latest technology, stunning visuals, and unbelievable performances, to explore the human voice and the power of self-expression; Singaporean vocal loop artist Weish will live accompany the UK premiere of Sundance Award winning Shirkers, which will be followed by a Q&A with director Sandi Tan.


Comedian John Robertson hosts a special Sheffield and documentary-themed edition of his cult smash live show The Dark Room: a live interactive game based on the text-based adventure games of the ‘80s and ‘90s; The Incredible Playable Show captures the current zeitgeist for all things ‘90s, where the audience become human buttons, zap each other with barcode scanners, and play Pac-Man using inflatable toys in the award winning live video game show, which will reference iconic Sheffield landmarks, and feature themes from the Alternate Realities programme; Threads: Redux will see performance artist Richard DeDomenici recreate several minutes of 1984 docu-style drama Threads which depicts chilling imagery of a nuclear apocalypse in Sheffield, at the very locations it was shot. On Wednesday 6 June Sheffield public are invited to take part in this guerilla recreation, ready for the Threads: Redux premiere at a special live show hosted by the uniquely absurd DeDomenici at the Leadmill on Saturday 9 June.


Throughout the Festival, alongside The Light Cinema Free Screen on Howard Street, audiences can experience a ‘brain controlled film’ installation The Moment (World premiere) created by neuroscientist and filmmaker Richard Ramchurn: a dystopian sci fi short film whereby the editing and narrative is controlled by brain sensors attached to one viewer, selected as ‘The Controller’, to create one of 1.1 trillion versions of the film.


Filmmaker and doctor of GeoHumanities Amy Cutler presents the nature documentary as never seen or heard it before, Nature’s Nickelodeons is inspired by an abandoned idea of Walt Disney’s to build natural history cinemas in zoos. Experimental composers and musicians join Cutler to re-invent the heroes, villains, sounds and spaces of nature broadcasts whilst travelling through submerged volcanoes, bio-luminescence, flocking birds and swarming insects.

On Tudor Square, Doc/Fest Exchange: Head Space supported by Wellcome, will host a programme of special talks, films and activity about mental health. The Exchange programme of events is headlined by Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard’s immersive video installation DOUBLETHINK which invites audiences to make a binary decision: enter the container marked HATE or the one marked HOPE. Iain & Jane will be joined by George MacKay to talk about the making and experience of DOUBLETHINK in Doc/Fest Exchange. Other Exchange speakers include SBTV founder Jamal Edwards who will talk about his work to break the stigma around mental health; vocal artist Reeps One will talk about the crossover between music, science and mental health; and BBC Asian Network presenter Mim Shaikh. Exchange/Dome will host film screenings including Erick Stoll and Chase Whiteside’s América and contemporary artist Leigh Ledare’s The Task.

In the Talks programme, activist and model Munroe Bergdorf will attend Doc/Fest to talk about her new documentary What Makes a Woman (Antidote Productions) for Channel 4 and discuss her work, her activism and how her experiences as a transgender woman remain the driving force behind her work; the Festival welcomes back Sir Trevor McDonald for the ITV Interview to discuss what drives him to make some of TV’s most compelling crime documentaries; Britain's best-known classicist, feminist and best-selling author of Women & Power: A Manifesto, Mary Beard, will be in conversation with Charlotte Moore, Director of Content at the BBC for the BBC Interview; playwright John Godber and artist Caroline McFarland will talk to Newsnight and Sky Arts presenter Kirsty Wark at Art 50: A Post Brexit Britain about how their work reveals how we’re redefining ourselves post Brexit. The Sky Arts Art 50 initiative, launched in March 2018 by Sky Arts in collaboration with the Barbican, Sage Gateshead, Baltic and Storyvault Films aims to consider what Britain will look and feel like – both to Britons and to the rest of the world – when it is no longer a member of the European Union. Grimsby-born, TV adventurer, motorcycle racer and lorry mechanic Guy Martin will make a rare public appearance to talk about his passion for engineering and the thrill of speed for the Channel 4 Interview; actor Vicky McClure, the star of This is England and Broadchurch, will discuss the making of her new BBC documentary series, Vicky McClure: My Dementia Choir (Curve Media) and her ambition to leave a lasting legacy in our understanding of how music therapy can help people with dementia.


The BAFTA- and Oscar- nominated director Matthew Heineman (City of Ghosts; Cartel Land) will give a masterclass supported by BAFTA; the self-taught director of Black Mother and Field Niggas, Khalik Allah, will explore a new film language with curator and programmer Ashley Clark; and acclaimed filmmaker and author Mark Cousins will look at 30 key cultural images to explore the aesthetics, politics and emotion of ‘looking’.


This year’s Doc/Question Time, supported by the Nations & Regions Conference, will examine Big Data, Dark PR & Whistleblowing. A panel of whistleblowers, journalists, media lawyers and filmmakers examine how the pursuit of truth and justice is affected by the issues of dark PR and data mining, including a discussion about the Cambridge Analytica Facebook scandal.


Sheffield Doc/Fest Film Programme:

Presenting bold and innovative non-fiction films made by some of the most authentic international filmmakers working today, this year’s Film programme includes a record 37 World premiere screenings, plus 18 International, 24 European, and 70 UK premieres.

Doc/Fest’s Director of Film Programming, Luke W Moody says, “Non-fiction cinema offers another sensibility, a space to coalesce, trust and doubt, to look and be looked at through intimate and subjective moments we otherwise would not encounter. In times of increasingly divisive political narratives, art is a vital dissident, radically connecting us with visions of the world around us”.


Mark Cousins, Sophie Fiennes, Liv Wynter, Samson Kambalu are among jurors to consider the official competition titles including those competing in the Grand Jury, Environmental, Art Doc, Illuminate, Tim Hetherington and New Talent Awards.

The line-up competing for Sheffield Doc/Fest 2018 Grand Jury Award supported by Screen International and Broadcast are: A Woman Captured (UK premiere) in which filmmaker Bernadett Tuza-Ritter encounters Eta, a Hungarian woman proud of keeping domestic slaves. Violent, abusive, and manipulative, Eta has stripped 53-year-old Marish of her belongings, her family and her identity. As trust builds between Marish and the filmmaker, Marish begins to mentally prepare for a dangerous bid for freedom; Hale County This Morning, This Evening (UK premiere) – shot over five years director RaMell Ross observes the lives of African Americans in Hale County, Alabama, through luminous poetic cinematography. Ross eschews traditional storytelling in favour of a series of intimate associative moments, illuminating a fresh vision of daily life in the American South; Of Fathers and Sons (UK premiere) where posing as a sympathetic war photographer, Syrian director Talai Derki (Return to Homs) gains access to the world of minesweeper Abu Osama, who is raising his many young sons to be Jihadi fighters; What Is Democracy? (World premiere) where, with democracy under threat globally, renowned author Astra Taylor's timely essay probes the meaning of the institution itself. Featuring a wide range of big thinkers from Cornel West to Silvia Federici, Taylor interweaves discussions about democracy's philosophical underpinnings with evidence of its all too flawed implementation, traveling from Athens, the birthplace of Plato's Republic, to Trump's unsettled USA. Filmed over six years, Almudena Carracedo, Robert Bahar’s The Silence of Others (UK premiere) reveals the epic struggle of victims of Spain’s 40-year dictatorship under General Franco, who continue to seek justice to this day.

Films competing for the Sheffield Doc/Fest 2018 Environmental Award are: A Journey to the Fumigated Towns (UK premiere) where, based on testimonies from locals, farmers and researchers, legendary filmmaker Fernando Solanas creates a moving, humane, and urgently political vision of an environmental crisis in Argentina; against the backdrop of the encroachment by modernity of the Amazônia ‘Paiter Surui’ since its first contact with the white man in 1969, Luiz Bolognesi’s Ex-Shaman (UK premiere) reveals how an ex-shaman of the Amazonia was forced into evangelical Christianity struggles to cure the suffering people of his village, and faces the wrath of spirits of the forest, who are upset he has abandoned them; Nicolás Molina’s Flow (World premiere) observes the human connection between two rivers – Ganges in India and Biobío in Chile – and proposes a poetic journey blending both civilisations through the flow of one great river; directed by Neil Gelinas and funded by National Geographic, Into The Okavango (International premiere) considers how the Okavango River Basin, which provides a vital source of water to about 1 million people, the world’s largest population of African elephants and significant populations of other wildlife, is now under siege due to increasing pressure from human activity; in Jon Kasbe’s When Lambs Become Lions (International premiere) a small-time ivory dealer struggles as forces mobilise to destroy his trade. Turning to his cousin, a wildlife ranger who hasn't been paid in months, he sees a possible lifeline; Jumana Manna’s Wild Relatives (UK premiere) follows a transportation of seeds between the Arctic and Lebanon to reveal a matrix of people and plant lives between two distant spots of the earth.

Films competing for the Sheffield Doc/Fest 2018 Art Doc Award supported by MUBI are: Khalik Allah’s Black Mother (UK premiere) which interweaves voices and images of Jamaica to reflect the natural, spiritual and cultural fabric of the Caribbean island; Ismael Caneppele’s Music When The Lights Go Out (UK premiere), a documentary floating on this thin border between fiction and reality; in Evangelia Kranioti’s Obscuro Barroco (UK premiere) a metamorphosis is taking place under the gaudy lights of the Rio de Janeiro carnival where bodies shimmer with otherworldly luminosity, as transgender Luana Muniz dreams herself into being; Michael Palmieri’s The Gospel of Eureka (International premiere) is a nuanced portrait of Eureka Springs, Arkansas known for attracting Christian and queer audiences alike to its passion play and gospel drag shows; in contemporary artist Leigh Ledare’s The Task (International premiere) a conference unfolds. There is a tension between the observed and the observers; they have a task. Relations are tense as the group probes its dynamics and conflicting desires; in Turtle Rock (UK premiere) Xiao Xiao films the eponymous mountain village where he was raised. Shot in black and white, this beautiful slow cinema piece captures the rhythms of remote existence.

Films competing for the Sheffield Doc/Fest 2018 Illuminate Award supported by Wellcome are: Erick Stoll and Chase Whiteside América (UK premiere) a story of brothers confronting the chasm between adolescent yearning and adult realities when brought together to creatively care for their mentally ailing, but physically fit, 93-year-old grandmother; in Ben Lawrence’s Ghosthunter (International premiere) a part-time ghost hunter spent decades searching for his absent father; in Pablo Aparo’s The Dread (UK premiere) set in a remote village in Argentina, home cures replace western medicine. Every disease is treated by neighbours except ‘the dread’, a rare disease that attacks women and is only curable by an old man, whom no one is encouraged to visit; in The Pain of Others (UK premiere) a supportive invisible internet community lies at the heart of Penny Lane's original documentary about the sufferers of the little-known Morgellons Disease; in Time Trial (joint UK premiere) first time director Finlay Pretsell sets out to document professional cyclist David Millar's triumphant last hurrah: a thirteenth run at the Tour de France; from Claire Simon (Gare du Nord, The Graduation) Young Solitude (UK premiere) set in the Paris suburbs in high school, teenagers chat after and even during class, sitting in the hallway or outside on a bench, looking at the city below them.

Films competing for the Sheffield Doc/Fest 2018 Tim Hetherington Award supported by Dogwoof are: Karim Aïnouz’s Central Airport THF (UK premiere) reveals Berlin's historic defunct Tempelhof airport’s hidden face as Germany’s largest emergency shelter for asylum seekers, including 18-year-old Syrian refugee Ibrahim; in Commander Arian (European premiere) director Alba Sotorra follows YPJ Commander Arian and her group of female fighters into the heart of the Syrian War; three activists risk everything trying to unseat Joseph Kabila in Kinshasa Makambo (UK premiere), as Congolese director Dieudo Hamadi (Mama Colonel) follows the young men in their attempts to mobilise a rebel generation; directors Elissa Mirzaei and Gulistan Mirzaei’s Laila at the Bridge (UK premiere) introduces Laila Haidari, fighting to rescue heroin addicts in Afghanistan, a country plagued opium-fuelled corruption. A child marriage survivor, Laila continues to defy the violent and exploitative patriarchy running her recovery clinic, despite Taliban attacks increase and corrupt ministers; in director Alexandria Bombach’s On Her Shoulders (European premiere) 23-year-old Nadia Murad leads her own harrowing yet vital crusade: to speak out on behalf of the embattled Yazidi community who face mass extermination by ISIS militants; Ruth Beckermann documents the process of uncovering former UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim’s wartime past in The Waldheim Waltz (UK premiere), proving that history repeats itself time and time again.


Films competing for the Sheffield Doc/Fest New Talent Award are: Frederik Sølberg Doel (International premiere) a portrait of the six remaining inhabitants of Doel, a ghost town in Belgium surrounded by a nuclear power plant, a gigantic container dock, and the port of Antwerp, and their struggle with Dutch techno ravers, curious urban explorers, and political havoc; Richard Miron’s For The Birds (World premiere) about a woman’s love for her pet ducks and chickens – all 200 of them – which begins to threaten her marriage and draw attention from local animal rescuers; Minding the Gap (UK premiere) first-time filmmaker Bing Liu's documentary is a coming-of-age saga of three skateboarding friends in their Rust Belt hometown hit hard by decades of recession; in Simon Lereng Wilmont’s observational film, The Distant Barking of Dogs (UK premiere), ten-year-old Oleg is much loved by his grandmother, who is raising him in the wake of his mother’s death, but his ordinary boyhood plays out against the war between the government and pro-Russian separatists in a quiet village in eastern Ukraine; in The Game (International premiere), directed by Marine de Contes, men scour the autumnal skies from their log cabin hut in the Landes region of France, eagerly awaiting the birds to pass overhead. In a strange choreography, they pull on the strings of time to activate their trap, while all around them the trees are falling; in The Proposal (European premiere) conceptual artist and writer Jill Magid develops an unorthodox project to explore artistic legacy. It takes as its subject the work of the Pritzker Prize-winning Mexican architect Luis Barragán, which is aggressively “protected” by its Swiss copyright holders, at the expense of public access.

Films competing for the Youth Jury Award supported by Yorkshire Building Society are: Amal (UK premiere) where, filmed over six years, Mohamed Siam’s intimate and unflinching portrait of a politicized teenage girl in contemporary Egypt follows the titular Amal (meaning ‘hope’) from the age of 15 through to adulthood; in Søren Steen Jespersen, Nasib Farah’s Lost Warrior (UK premiere), Mohammed is no longer welcome in the UK where he grew up after briefly joining al-Shabab. But with his wife and young son in London, he is desperate to return and refuses to give up hope; Russia's threat to American democracy is brought starkly to life in Maxim Pozdorovkin Our New President (UK premiere), consisting entirely of Russian propaganda videos and user generated content; in Marta Prus’ rare and gripping insight into the coaching of a young female athlete by two generations of women, Over the Limit (UK premiere), a 20-year-old Russian rhythmic gymnast Margarita has a brutal coach, but her senior coach is another level. Dripping in designer chic, she glides in like Elizabeth Taylor, washed up on Olympic shores and is compulsively spitting venom; in Shirkers (UK premiere) in the early 1990s in Singapore young punk cinephile Sandi Tan wrote and starred in Shirkers, a quirky girl slasher movie, directed by her older, enigmatic mentor Georges. But her dreams were cut cruelly short. In this highly original and entertaining personal documentary Tan delves into Shirker's mysterious, painful history; directed by Kiko Goifman, Claudia Priscilla Tranny Fag (UK premiere) is a candid profile of São Paulo pop star and black trans woman Linn da Quebrada which a deftly blends raucous concert footage with tender offstage interludes showcasing her family and friends.


Sheffield Doc/Fest awards are also given for the Short Doc Award supported by Canon, and Doc Audience Award supported by Curzon. Also voted for by the audience, the Doc/Dispatch Prize supported by Deutsche Welle, will be given to the winner of this year’s showcase for documentary journalism from citizen reporters, investigative filmmakers and responsive news units.


Notable world premieres playing outside Doc/Fest’s official competition include: Arwen Curry’s Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin, a portrait of the recently deceased trailblazing rebel who shook the world of literature, defying gender norms, societal expectations and patriarchal gatekeeping; two years since the Dehli gang rape, Inka Achte’s Boys Who Like Girls follows teenager Ved who joins a boys’ club run by 'Men Against Violence and Abuse' and wonders whether his will be the first generation of boys that actually respects girls?; in Joost Vandebrug’s Bruce Lee & The Outlaw, Nicu a young homeless boy, is adopted by Bruce Lee, the notorious “King of the Underworld” and goes to live with him in the tunnels underneath Bucharest; Chris Martin’s Under The Wire is a powerful film that tells the story of celebrated Sunday Times journalist Marie Colvin and photographer Paul Conroy’s ill-fated trip to Syria in February 2012, based on Conroy’s book of same title; Callum Macrae’s The BallyMurphy Precedent investigates Britain’s secret war-crime: the little known killing of 11 innocent civilians by British forces in one Belfast estate which led to Bloody Sunday and helped precipitate Northern Ireland’s 30-year war; in Maceo Frost’s Too Beautiful: Our Right to Fight Cuba ranks highly at Olympic boxing, but women can't compete. This immersive film follows Havana boxer Namibia, who's hoping the ban is lifted before she ages out of eligibility.


Additional World premieres include: Mari Gulbiani’s Before Father Gets Back set in a Georgian village, from which many men have left for Syria, two girls escape a shared longing for their fathers through the magic of cinema; Florian Heinzen-Ziob’s German Class closely follows the lives of children from abroad as they take their first steps in the German school system; Alisa Kovalenko’ Home Games follows 20-year-old Alina as she’s about to join the Ukrainian national team, when her mother suddenly dies leaving two young siblings – now she must choose football or family; Denis Parrot’s Out is the first documentary to address LGBTQ+ coming out stories exclusively through social media footage; Scott Christopherson The Insufferable Groo follows Utah-based filmmaker Stephen Groo, who having directed nearly 200 low-budget movies, seeks Jack Black for his latest human/elf fantasy drama; Ho Chao-ti’s Turning 18 is a story of abandonment, love and courage, asking how can an unloved life find a strength of her own?; Petr Šprincl Vienna Calling is a docu-fiction road movie, following a grave robbing artist and his sidekick’s journey to Vienna in a horse drawn caravan of death to return some famous teeth; Tuki Jencquel Está Todo Bien is about an activist who delivers badly needed medicines in Venezuela where salaries peak at 12 dollars a month and 16,000 doctors have left the country.


New wave of UK filmmakers and extraordinary contemporary UK stories feature in the New/UK strand: Ben Anthony’s Grenfell (World premiere) reflects on the one year anniversary of the tragic events of last summer, featuring accounts from the people whose lives were irrevocably changed by the most devastating tower block fire in British history; Stefan Stuckert’s Against The Tides (World premiere) documents British open water swimmer Beth French’s attempts to be the first person to complete 'Oceans Seven' – swimming seven of the world's most dangerous sea crossings in a single calendar year; James Newton’s Gun No. 6 (World premiere) is the story of Britain’s deadliest illegal gun, used in 11 shootings and three murders – this hi-bred of documentary and drama uncovers the reality of gun crime in Britain; Jenn Nkiru’s Rebirth is Necessary is an explosive and rhythmic synthesis of beautiful archive footage, new visions and rich textures – an ode to the magic of Blackness, and a visceral reinvention of film language; Ayo Akingbade’s Street 66 (UK premiere) documents Londoner Theodora Boatemah who having successfully transformed her neglected Brixton estate is now challenging the threat of gentrification; Roxy Rezvany’s Little Pyongyang (UK premiere) is set in the suburbia of East Malden, home to the largest community of North Koreans outside of Korea.


This year’s country focus – New/Lebanon – includes four feature length and two mid-length films which offer an insight into contemporary Lebanese documentary cinema including Siska’s In the Ruins of Baalbeck Studios (International premiere) who interweaves audio with damaged archive to recreate the heyday of the biggest production company in the Arab world; Rana Eid’s Panoptic is an evocative personal essay reflecting Beirut’s difficult recent and uneasy present; and winner at RIDM 2017, Anthony Chidiac’s Room for a Man explores identity and family history. Also screening, from renowned artist Jumana Manna, is Wild Relatives (UK premiere) which is competing in the Environmental Award.

In Doc/Visions, the film programme revisits projects from the past. Marking both the centenary of the 1918 suffrage act and her birth year, pioneering British filmmaker Margaret Tait is the center of Margaret Tait: A Century a mini retrospective collection of her titles: Colour Poems, A Portrait of Ga, Tailpiece, Aerial, Where I am is Here. Nathaniel Dorsky Arboretum Cycle (International premiere) is a magical collection of seven 16mm films exploring the beauty of Californian nature in spring light. Each silent film celebrates qualities of energy, joy, fullness, and rebirth.

For this year’s retrospective Doc/Retro: Electric Avenues, Sheffield Doc/Fest is pleased to present an alternative history of street documentary, featuring a parade of rarely seen films portraying city life from Guangzhou, to Cairo, Los Angeles, and Dakar. In these films, largely from the Global South diaspora of artists/filmmakers, the street is not the route, it is the destination. Including: two feature films, Cocorico Monsieur Poulet and Disorder and four short film compilations, including works from late 1960s and 1970s, as well as contemporary visions of public life from the likes of Djibril Diop Mambéty (Touki Bouki) and Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives), Cecile Emeke (Episodes 3,5 & 9 from her Strolling series) and three shorts from the esteemed Egyptian director Attiyat El-Abnoudi (Horse of Mud, Sad Song of Touha, The Sandwich).


Alternate Realities Exhibition

This year’s Alternate Reality Exhibition, supported by Arts Council England – held for the first time across two floors at Trafalgar Warehouse, a 1930s industrial building located in the heart of Sheffield – expands the ambition, reach and impact of Alternate Realities.


Says Dan Tucker, Curator & Executive Producer of Alternate Realities, Sheffield Doc/Fest, “Central to this year’s curation is profound immersive and interactive work that champions unity over division. We also have a focus on the human ability to create and destroy, with projects like our Festival commission Face to Face, Voice of The Unicorn and This is Climate Change bringing a new perspective on the known and the unknown”.


Spread over two floors, the exhibition comprises a lower ground space entitled The World Unknown to You and will feature virtual and augmented reality, video games and digital installations that take the audience into the lives of others. The floor above entitled Better Known Truths, supported by DDD60 project, is a communal space in which synchronous virtual reality shows will bring audiences together to experience 360º documentaries from around the world.


Myriam Achard (Centre Phi), William Uricchio (MIT), Gabrielle Jenks (Abandon Normal Devices), Ruthie Doyle (Sundance Institute), Zahara Rasool (Al Jazeera), and Robin McNicholas (Marshmallow Laser Feast) will consider projects eligible for the Alternate Realities Virtual Reality Award and the Alternate Realities Interactive Award. Audiences are also encouraged to vote for the Alternate Realities Audience Award supported by REWIND.

Alternate Realities Virtual Reality Award Nominees

This year’s exhibition will feature nine virtual reality installations: The Day The World Changed (International premiere), created by Gabo Arora and Saschka Unseld, is an intimate history and commemoration of the victims and survivors of atomic bombings and nuclear arms testing through first-hand testimonies; Face To Face (World premiere) created by Michelle Gabel and Michaela Holland is a compelling installation based on the life of young mother Michelle Fox, who wears a facial prosthetic due to a near fatal gun injury. Face To Face is a Sheffield Doc/Fest commission, supported by Arts Council England; Hold The World with David Attenborough (European premiere), created by Dan Smith, is a unique one on one encounter with a digitally realised Sir David Attenborough, in which he teaches the audience how to examine remarkable specimens from the Natural History Museum's collection; created by Camila Ruz, Is Anna OK? (UK premiere), is a true story of twins thrown apart by one night. Step into their shoes and a beautifully illustrated world in which you explore memories through objects and uncover what happened from both perspectives; Inside a Mind at War (UK premiere) created by Sutu, explores PTSD and the banal horrors of war through hand-drawn 3D illustrations of Scott England's memories; Life in VR – California Coast (World premiere), created by Charlotte Jones, Tom Burton and Phil Stuart, invites the audience to experience life in the ocean from the microscopic to the truly gigantic and encounter the unexpected in an underwater world bursting with life; Manic VR (World premiere), created by Kalina Bertin, Sandra Rodriguez and Fred Casia, uncovers an extraordinary exploration into the exuberant, frightening, chaotic – but also beautiful – worlds of a bipolar imagination; Porton Down (World premiere), created by Don Webb, Callum Cooper, Sam Von Ehren, and Anna Meller, invites the audience to encounter the experiences of an ex-serviceman who unwittingly found himself in a bizarre, mind-altering military trial that changed the course of his life; in Vestige (European premiere), created by Aaron Bradbury and Paul Mowbray, audiences join a journey into the mind of Lisa as she remembers her lost love, Erik through a series of fragmented memories.


The exhibition will also showcase ten Mobile VR projects eligible for the Virtual Reality Award: Authentically Us: We're Still Here (European premiere), created by Jesse Ayala, invites audiences to step into the life of Aiden ShortCloud, a transgender, Two-Spirit artist and historian in Boise, Idaho, struggling to preserve and revive his heritage in a race against time; Berlin Paris Terror (UK premiere), created by Jürgen Brügger, Jörg Haaßengier, Astrid Schult and Ricarda Saleh, invites audiences to experience the memories of the first responders and surviving hostages of the major terrorist incidents in Germany and Paris; Every King Tide (International premiere), created by Aaron Fa'Aoso, Craig Deeker, and Greer Simpkin, features a first-person perspective of a community's spirit and passion for the Poruma Island in the Torres Strait of Australia which is slowly being swallowed by the sea; Grenfell: Our Home (World premiere), created by Jonathan Rudd, is an experience that combines powerful interviews with beautiful animation to visualise the memories of home still held by the survivors of the Grenfell fire of 14 June 2017; Life After Hate: Meeting a Monster (International premiere), created by Gabriela Arp, witnesses Angela King relive the memories and motivations of the eight years she spent inside the white power movement and the path she took to get out; Sanctuaries of Silence (European premiere), created by Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee and Adam Loften, is a mindful and thought-provoking film that highlights the impact of noise pollution on a journey into Olympic National Park, one of the quietest places in North America; The Journey (World premiere), created by Charlotte Windle Mikkelborg, is a journey through childhood in three of the toughest environments on Earth; The Real Thing (International premiere), created by Benoit Felici and Mathais Chelebourg, steps into a copy of our world, exploring real-life stories inside China's replicas of Paris, Venice and London; This Is Climate Change: Feast & Famine (International premiere), created by Danfung Dennis and Eric Strauss, confronts our new reality of catastrophic weather events that are displacing communities and transforming landscapes with alarming speed; Yemen's Skies of Terror (World premiere), created by Viktorija Mickute, Joi Lee and Zahra Rasool, witnesses a rare glimpse of life inside Yemen and learn about the reality of childhood in a country that has suffered three years of devastating air raids falling from the skies.


Alternate Realities Interactive Award

Eight projects are eligible for the Alternate Realities Interactive Award: installation Belongings (UK premiere), created by John-Paul Marin, Matt Smith, Tea Uglow and Kirstin Sillitoe, allows an intimate interaction with displaced people and their stories of identity, resilience and hope; interactive documentary Cosmic Top Secret (UK premiere), created by Trine Laier, is autobiographical adventure game about a girl called T who wants to find out what her dad did for the Danish Intelligence during the Cold War; interactive documentary Homo Machina (European premiere), created by Marc Lustigman, Noam Roubah, and Olivier Bonhomme, invites audiences to dive into a fantastic universe where the human body becomes a gigantic mechanised factory, inspired by Fritz Kahn‚ Äôs medical illustrations; game The Loss Levels (Festival premiere), created by Dan Hett, is a deeply personal yet playful story of loss based on the artist's personal experience during the 2017 terrorist attack on the Manchester Arena. Installation Sensible Data / Mixed Emotions (World premiere), created by Martin Hertig, reveals how the machine sees you and allows you to decide whether that re-informs how you see yourself; augmented reality Terminal 3 (European premiere), created by Asad J. Malik, explores contemporary Muslim identities in the USA through the lens of an airport interrogation; installation The Voice of the Unicorn (World premiere), created by Richard Butchins, is a provocative exploration of the art of the non-verbal that challenges how we see and understand language, disability, art and alienation; interactive documentary Where is Home? (UK premiere), created by Ifeatu Nnaobi, is a journey through West Africa that asks the simple question What is home?, but reveals a complex range of thought provoking answers.


The Festival closes with the Sheffield Doc/Fest 2018 Awards Ceremony hosted by BBC Radio Sheffield’s Paulette Edwards celebrating special prize recipients, nominees from twelve Festival award categories and the jury selected Film and Alternate Realities winners, followed by a screening of the winning film of the 2018 Doc Audience Award supported by Curzon, culminating in the legendary Doc/Fest Guilty Pleasures party.


Doc/Fest Summits

Doc/Fest 2018 is proud to present three returning and one new Summit at the Festival. The Doc/Fest Summits have grown to become some of most of the highly anticipated sessions of the Festival, as they bring together storytellers, artists and experience creators from across the realms of linear and interactive and immersive filmmaking to share their knowledge of working in the industry. Individual tickets are available for the Alternate Realities and Live Cinema Summits. All Summits are open to Festival pass holders.


The Alternate Realities Summit supported by Arts Council England taking place on Sunday 10 June will continue to explore the self and the other. The morning session will look at Portrayals, how we are seen, how we see others and how we can ensure representation of those often under represented. The afternoon is Union: how can we bring people together with immersive and interactive non-fiction work, and how can we build a future to be proud of, both in immersive media, but also societally through our engagement with these works. Three keynote speakers are: William Uricchio who leads the MiT open Doc lab, Ruthie Doyle from the Sundance Institute and Zahra Rasool, the lead of Al Jazeera's Contrast VR team (based in Doha/Washington/NYC), who will talk about her experience of creating hard hitting 360º documentary work in conflict zones, and how working with people on the ground, and enabling them to create immersive content themselves, should be the future of current affairs and observational 360º documentary. Artists featured in Better Known Truths in the Alternate Realities Exhibition will further explore how we reflect the culture, identity and history of a diverse selection of contributors within 360º documentary; while those in The World Unknown to You will examine how different types of interactive and immersive artists use different interfaces/media to bring us together to celebrate our collective humanity. Compared by Sharna Jackson (Arts & Digital Consultant) and Emma Cooper (Creative Digital Consultant).


Reflecting Doc/Fest’s growing programme of live and multi-media events, the Live Cinema Summit, in partnership with Live Cinema UK supported by Arts Council England, is a new addition taking place across two days on Friday 8 and Saturday 9 June. The Summit will explore the phenomenon of live cinema, including film screenings augmented through live performance or immersive elements, site-specific locations, technological intervention, digital participation and musical accompaniment. Highlights from Live Cinema Summit include; Introduction: Real Live on the potential of ‘liveness’ for factual storytelling; Live Scores and Archive will explore the growing trend of contemporary musicians premiering live scores for archive films; Meet The Artists of Doc/Fest 2018 sees artists from the 2018 Doc/Fest programme join journalist and live cinema producer Colm McAuliffe to take an exclusive look behind the scenes of their World premiere events. Artists taking part in this event include Reeps One, Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard, Amy Cutler, and Richard DeDomenici. Day two of the Live Cinema Summit will host a selection of Round Table opportunities giving the the opportunity to explore live cinema shows from concept, through to funding, exhibition and touring in an informal small group environment.

The Craft Summit presented by Documentary Campus on Saturday 9 June will shine a spotlight on the creative minds behind the inspiring films at Doc/Fest 2018. Industry insiders from across the documentary and factual spectrums will share their craft processes, methods and the creative choices they make, as well as the tools and workflows they use across the topics of directing, shooting, sound and post. Craft Summit highlights include; Directing – How Close Do You Go, a probing session using the experience of a psychologist to gain insights into the art of directing actuality, and examine whether filmmakers can ever get too close to the subject in documentaries; Focus On Cinematography – New Ways Of Seeing supported by Canon sees filmmakers and DOPs discuss which equipment they use and why; The Colourist – Making A Grade Great supported by Halo Post Production focuses on how colour grading has become an essential tool to enhance and transform camera images; and Sound Design – The Art Of Noise explores the role of the sound designer and the lengths they go to make the sound authentic and meaningful. Hosted by Krishan Arora (Consultant SBS).


The Sales & Distribution Summit on Sunday 10 June brings together sales agents and distributors to network directly with filmmakers, delegates and Festival pass holders to share knowledge on how the industry is working in 2018, as well as offer advice on how to get documentaries sold and seen by international audiences across the spectrum. The Summit will feature an introductory session to sales and distribution aimed at filmmakers relatively new to the industry, followed by a high profile case study and a session on Distribution for VR. The afternoon sessions include Meet the Sales Agents and Meet the Distributors.


In addition to this year’s Summits, the Doc/Fest Industry sessions and professional development opportunities run throughout the Festival.

Doc/Fest is proud to be bringing back Doc/Dinner, supported by Canon, a forum for new and emerging talent to share knowledge, ideas and experiences with Decision Makers on a level playing field, for mutual business and creative benefit. Doc/Dinner founder Reggie Yates will be among the attending industry mentors and the evening will hosted by BBC Asian Network presenter and first time documentary maker Mim Shaikh.

The Festival is the home for a range of pitch and filmmaking competitions for widest access including geographical and theme focused teams. This year the Festival offers seven pitch opportunities and is delighted to welcome back the BBC Northern Docs Pitch and host for the first time The Boiler Room Pitch, which is looking for projects that engage with themes of dance music and hedonism. Also new for 2018, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and The Guardian are collaborating on a new public pitch inviting filmmakers to present ideas that reframe the issue of poverty that will engage a wide, mainstream audience.

With Doc/Fest’s core focus on new and emerging talent, fullest diversity, representation and opportunity, stand out sessions amongst this year’s 40+ line-up include: Whose Story: Authentic Voices in Storytelling, chaired by Anca Dimofte (Frontline Club) and panel of filmmakers including Deeyah Khan (Jihad/ The White Right: Meeting The Enemy) and Feras Fayyad (Last Man in Allepo) will share their own experiences of extractive vs authentic storytelling;  What Would A Fully Representative and Diverse Industry Look Like?, chaired by Anne Morrison (WFTV) will explore the obstacles facing the industry in creating a truly diverse workforce and ask what can be done to deliver meaningful change; Times Up: The Industry Response to Bullying & Harrassment, chaired by Ali Bailey (Head of Campaigning, Directors UK) with Natasha Dack (Tigerlily Productions), Fiona Campbell (BBC), Kelly Webb Lamb (Channel4), Tim Hunter (BAFTA) and Billie JD Porter (Documentary filmmaker) will debate how the film and television industry is responding to the anti-sexual assault and women’s empowerment movements. My Big Break, chaired by Ade Rawcliffe will discuss film and TV professionals at varying stages in their career the successes and challenges that paved their way into the industry. 

Doc/Fest’s continued focus on the question of storytellers, responsibility and influence, are highlighted in sessions including Documenting Grenfell: A Problem in Plain Sight, chaired by Siobhan Sinnerton (Channel4) the panel of journalists, filmmakers and activists will examine media response to and coverage of the disaster and explore whether it will mark a turning point;  SOS Planet Earth: Ways for Docs to Save the World - a panel including Tom McDonald (BBC), Wendy Rattray (Hello Halo) and Mark Galloway (IBT) will debate - in the wake of Blue Planet II and its rallying cry to do more to protect our environment - what role, if any, television should play in raising awareness of environmental issues.

Looking at growing style and commissioning trends, Personal The Naked Me: Personal Stories, chaired by Alison Kirkham (BBC) with Anita Rani, Adrian Chiles and Mim Shaikh will talk about what makes a presenter bare all and its effectiveness as a storytelling approach. The panel will unpack the ethics, emotions, embarrassments and tensions over editorial control of celebrity-led documentaries that tackle deeply personal – and sometimes painful – stories;  Best of Times, Worst of Times: The Future of Feature Documentaries, chaired by Rajesh Thind (filmmaker) with panel including Mandy Chang (BBC Storyville), Lisa Marie Russo (Doc Society) and Elhum Shakerifar (Postcode Films) looking at the rising power of SVOD, who has the money and how to get it, and will new funding schemes create a flurry of features.

For a full list of industry sessions see

Round Tables

Delegates can meet international Decision Makers via the Roundtable sessions that run alongside MeetMarket and Alternate Realities Market on Monday and Tuesday. Roundtables will feature representatives from documentary funding organisations, international co-production advisors,

festival programmers, shorts commissioners, leaders in new forms of digital storytelling, plus professionals working in audio-docs and podcasting.


Tickets on sale Thursday 3 May, 10am BST at


Festival Pass: comprises one full registration, giving access to Sheffield Doc/Fest 2018: 7–12 June. Your Festival Pass includes access to the Film programme, Alternate Realities programme, Talks & Sessions, Marketplace & Talent, Special Events, Doc/Player and all social events and networking.

For further information, interview requests contact:

Sarah Harvey Publicity

Sarah Harvey

Nikki Aslatt

Oli Gots

+44 (0) 207 732 7790



For press accreditation details see:


About Sheffield Doc/Fest


Sheffield Doc/Fest is a world leading and the UK’s premier documentary festival. Doc/Fest celebrates the art and business of documentary and all non-fiction storytelling, from feature length to short film, series, audio, interactive technology, augmented reality, virtual reality, and live events.

The Festival comprises:

- Film programme of the very best in international documentary screenings;

- Alternate Realities for innovation in interactive, augmented reality and virtual reality projects;

- Talks & Sessions with world-renowned filmmakers, to inspire, inform and debate;

- Marketplace & Talent for international business, delegations, pitching and training;

- Live Events, social events and networking;

- All Year screenings, talks and training outside of the Festival period.

Across all of its programmes, Doc/Fest gives audiences the opportunity to explore documentary within one unique, six-day Festival experience, in the heart of the UK.

Sheffield Doc/Fest welcomes over 32,700 Festival goers each year, including over 3,500 industry delegates from 60 countries.

The 25th Edition will take place 7-12 June 2018.