Sheffield Doc/Fest is proud to announce the first highlights of the festival’s Alternate Realities Exhibition and Summit showcasing immersive and interactive storyforms. The 2018 Doc/Fest commission worth £12,000 is awarded to Face to Face by Michaela Holland, Michelle Gabel and Ivana Jiron. Two international premiere VR projects for the Alternate Realities exhibition are The Day The World Changed by Gabo Arorar and Saschka Unseld, and Hold The World featuring a one-on-one with Sir David Attenborough - all reflecting a theme of human creation and destruction.


Face to Face, Sheffield Doc/Fest’s third Alternate Realities Commission will receive its world premiere in the Alternate Realities Exhibition, supported by Arts Council England. This immersive and interactive experience is the extraordinary story of an America mother with two daughters – whose life was forever changed by a gun accident.


The experience takes the audience through Michelle’s incredible story building to a climax that is both profound and unexpected. Chosen from a record number of highest quality international entries, Face to Face was selected by a committee that included Sarah Ellis (Head of Digital Development for the Royal Shakespeare Company), Katy Yudin (Executive Producer of the Future of Storytelling Festival in Canada) and Dun Tucker (Curator of Alternate Realities).


For the 2018 Alternate Realties Exhibition, Doc/fest is also proud to announce two international premiere VR projects that showcase a range of new technologies and evolutions in the emerging field of immersive storytelling:


The international premiere of The Day The World Changed - from VR auteurs Gabo Arora and Saschka Unseld - is a powerful and meaningful immersive documentary that has a clear message about nuclear disarmament. Combining for the first time archive, animation, photogrammetry, 3D scanned objects and native VR tools to deliver an experience for four people at a time through HTC’s Vive VR headset. In partnership with Nobel Media and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, this is a VR documentary that showcases the potential of the new medium.


The international premiere of Hold The World - is a one-off virtual reality encounter with natural historian Sir David Attenborough, made by Factory 42 for Sky VR. Using the latest volumetric capture technology, Sir David is represented in virtual reality in unparalleled high fidelity, allowing a one-on-one guided journey through a series of fascinating natural history specimens that the audience can interact with, learn more about, and reflect on how the past informs the present.


Reflecting these artists, themes and technologies, the Alternate Realities Summit returns to the Crucible Studio in Sheffield on Sunday 10th June for a day of keynote talks, presentations and debate about the art and craft of interactive storytelling. We’re proud to announce our first Summit speakers: an ‘Artist Spotlight’ on Gabo Arora, whose project The Day The World Changed is the latest in a canon of work in VR which includes the seminal Clouds Over Sidra. In addition, talks from William Urrichio, the head of MIT’s Open Doc Lab about the future of story and Ruthie Doyle from the Sundance Institute who will close the day with a new vision of inclusion and diversity in the emerging form of immersive media.


Says Liz McIntyre, Festival Director & CEO, Sheffield Doc/Fest,“Doc/Fest’s first 2018 Alternate Realities announcements powerfully demonstrate the ability of immersive and interactive storyform artists to transport audiences out of their own minds and into the minds of others in innovative ways. I am proud to welcome such eminent creators to Sheffield, and celebrate their imaginative explorations of archive, animation and virtual reality, reflecting the theme of the human ability to create and destroy”.


Says Dan Tucker Curator of Alternate Realities, Sheffield Doc/Fest,

“These Alternate Realities works challenge the documentary form with multi-sensory stories using the latest digital innovations. Today we reveal our incredible commission, Face To Face, the story of a mother with limitless courage; a first time collaboration between renowned VR creators Gabo Arora and Saschka Unseld with The Day The World Changed; and Hold The World, an innovative one-on-one encounter with Sir David Attenborough. We are looking forward to seeing audiences come to Sheffield with curiosity in abundance and leave with a desire to collaborate, create and share their own immersive and interactive stories”.


Sheffield Doc/Fest Alternate Realities Commission: Face to Face

Sheffield Doc/Fest Alternate Realities Commission: Face to Face
In 2009 Michelle was accidentally shot in the face in her home. She lost her eyes, nose and upper palate in the blast, leaving her permanently blind and unable to smell.


Nine years later, Michelle wears a prosthetic face made of silicone and acrylic, raising two young daughters with the assistance of her mother.
Face to Face
is the work of Michaela Holland, an immersive storyteller and Michelle Gabel, a photojournalist. The final piece combines virtual reality with a large installation that uses immersive theatre techniques to involve the audience--who journey through the layers of Michelle Fox’s life until they come face to face with themselves in a way they could never have imagined before. Years of photojournalism and recorded interview audio are the foundation and cornerstone of a project that create a never before seen intimate look at disability, expectations around beauty, and human resilience.


This is the third Alternate Realities Commission at Sheffield Doc/Fest. Previous commissioned artists include, Alex Pearson/Marshmallow Laser Feast, Darren Emerson, Heather Phillipson and Oscar Raby. Supported by Arts Council England, Sheffield Doc/Fest is a National Portfolio Organisation and recipient of strategic funding between 2018-2022. 



The Day The World Changed

In partnership with Nobel Media and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, The Day the World Changed brings to viewers the impressions of the victims and survivors of atomic bombings and nuclear arms testing through first-hand testimonies, data visualisations and innovative use of 3-D scanning and photogrammetry.


Hold The World

Hold the World gives the audience the opportunity of a one-on-one experience with the world’s foremost natural history broadcaster, Sir David Attenborough.


Sitting across a desk from Sir David Attenborough in a variety of behind the scenes locations at London's Natural History Museum, the audience is tasked with 'handling' a series of remarkable and precious specimens from the museum's collection, and invited find out about each specimen. Using virtual hands the audience can enlarge and study each specimen and then finally the creature ‘comes to life’ and animates in a glorious magical moment.


The full line-up for the Sheffield Doc/Fest 2018 programme will be announced on Thursday 3 May.


Alternate Realities Summit

Venue: Crucible Studio 
Date: Sunday 10 June
Times: 10am – 5pm 
Event Strand: Alternate Realities
Ticket Price (including booking fee): £66 (£55 concession)



Face to Face (USA 2018)
Creators Michelle Fox, photographer Michelle Gabel, writer and experimental filmmaker Ivana Jiron, and producer Michaela Holland.

Venue: Trafalgar Warehouse

Date: Thursday 7 to Tuesday 12 June

Times: Thurs 7 June: 12-8pm

Times: Fri 8 - Tues 12 June: 9:30am-8pm

Event Strand: Alternate Realities

Ticket Price (including booking fee): FREE


The Day The World Changed (USA/Japan, 2018)
Creators: Gabo Arora, Saschka Unseld

Venue: Trafalgar Warehouse

Date: Thursday 7 to Tuesday 12 June

Times: Thurs 7 June: 12-8pm

Times: Fri 8 - Tues 12 June: 9:30am-8pm

Event Strand: Alternate Realities

Ticket Price (including booking fee): FREE


Hold The World (UK 2017)
Creators: Dan Smith, Factory 42

Venue: Trafalgar Warehouse

Date: Thursday 7 to Tuesday 12 June

Times: Thurs 7 June: 12-8pm

Times: Fri 8 - Tues 12 June: 9:30am-8pm

Event Strand: Alternate Realities

Ticket Price (including booking fee): FREE


Alternate Realities Summit
Crucible Studio

Ticketing information:

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, contact:

Sarah Harvey Publicity

Sarah Harvey

Oli Gots

+44 (0) 207 732 7790


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.