• Festival Audiences attracted to Socially Inclusive Programme and Initiatives
  • Doc/Fest Programme Catalyst for Industry Connections with Lasting Legacy
  • New and Existing Access Initiatives including for Amateur and Budding          Filmmakers, bridging a gap between public and industry
  • £10.5 million Total Value of Deals Anticipated in Marketplace & Talent (as of June 2018)
  • Total Delegate Spend Across the Festival £1,746,077 Contributes to Local Economic Impact
  • New Digitised Archive project for documentary film legacy


Sheffield Doc/Fest publishes its Festival Report today showing percentage increases of physical public admissions of 7.26% to 25,597 (58% from Yorkshire), plus a 1.4% increase in industry delegates to 3,444, from 55 countries. 

Doc/Fest 2018 additionally achieved digital engagement of 65,334 digital reach, via social media platforms Facebook and Instagram live video feeds.

Sheffield Doc/Fest CEO & Director Liz McIntyre says: “Sheffield Doc/Fest is committed to a festival that celebrates fullest diversity and inclusion amongst those making, funding and watching documentary films.

‘We’re proud to report a more diverse range of festival goers at Doc/Fest 2018, including representation of BAME, LGBTQ+ and audiences with disabilities. As part of our drive to widen public and industry access, we welcomed significant audiences who consider themselves from a disadvantaged background, and attracted amateur filmmakers curious about the profession, bridging public and industry. 

‘Doc/Fest continues to place at its heart new documentary storytellers with new perspectives, and also report today the continued strengthening of our programmes that nurture the industry’s very best future talents”.

Affirming Doc/Fest’s commitment towards new, inclusive and diverse audience engagement, the six-day Festival enjoyed an increase of 16% in the number of tickets sold compared with 2017, with new audiences attracted to a decisively socially inclusive Festival programme. As in previous years, the Festival continued to welcome a large number of young audiences, with 35% of industry and 26% of public audiences being under 30.

In line with the Festival’s core aim to diversify the composition of makers, industry gatekeepers and audiences, Doc/Fest increased diversity across several key areas of representation: of the 2018 Festival’s industry delegates 17% identified as BAME (up from 14% in 2017); 14% identified as LGBTQ+ (up from 9% in 2017); and 3% identified as someone with disabilities (up from 2% in 2017). Of the public audiences, 13% identified as BAME (up from 11% in 2017), 15% identified as LGBTQ+ (up from 11% in 2017), and an increase 9% of audiences whose day-to-day activities are limited because of a health problem or disability (up from 8% in 2017).

The Festival reports that a majority of audiences are female, with 52% of industry and 58% of public audiences identifying as female, and 1% as non-binary. In the programme, 53% of the Film programme credited a female primary producer and 38% a female director; in the Alternate Realities programme, 42% of the makers were women; in the Talks programme, 51% of the speakers were women, up by 3% from 2017. 60% of the industry Decision Makers attending the Festival were women, up by 2% from 2017.


New and Existing Initiatives continue to increase Public and Industry Access

With the aim of increasing access to the Festival, the new Doc/Fest connection service Doc/Host successfully paired 20 emerging, low and no income filmmakers with Sheffield locals who offered accommodation for free during the Festival, in return for a pair of Doc/Lover wristbands, increasing both industry and public engagement.

For the first time this year, Doc/Fest introduced a new free initiative Want to Work In Film? which attracted 40 amateur and budding filmmakers curious to learn more about the industry itself, and routes to enter the industry. Free and open to all, advice surgeries were hosted by representatives from BFI Network and Creative England.

In this first year of recording, 12% of public audiences who responded to the public survey considered themselves to be from a disadvantaged background, a figure influenced by ‘From Door to Doc’, a Doc/Fest community outreach programme supported by Wellcome, which strives to enable citizens living in the harder to reach areas of Sheffield, for whom travel and funds would normally be a barrier to access, to come and enjoy a day at the Festival for just £1.

247 speakers participated in 87 Talks & Sessions industry and public events, with BSL interpretation increasing in 2018 to eight events.


£10.5 million Total Value of Deals Anticipated in Marketplace & Talent

In the Marketplace & Talent programme, 332 Decision Makers attended and connected with 830 Marketplace participants. Across MeetMarket and Alternate Realities Market, 88 projects took more than 1,650 pre-arranged meetings with industry Decision Makers over two days. As of June 2018, a £10.5 million total value of deals were anticipated.

MeetMarket connected 64 new documentary projects from 19 countries with industry Decision Makers from 27 countries around the world. In the Alternate Realities Market, 24 teams pitched to a range of industry Decision Makers from organisations offering funding, distribution, partnerships and exhibition to non-fiction works exploring new media.

This year, eight finished films selected for the 2018 Film Programme had previously taken part in MeetMarket: Amal, Bruce Lee and the Outlaw, The Eyes of Orson Welles, The Lonely Battle of Thomas Reid, No Greater Law, Over the Limit, Time Trial and the Oscar-qualifying The Silence of Others, winner of Doc/Fest’s 2018 Grand Jury Award. Two completed projects from previous Alternate Realities Markets – Vestige and The Real Thing – were showcased in this year’s Alternate Realities Exhibition.


Doc/Fest Programme Catalyst for Industry Connections with Lasting Legacy

Twenty emerging filmmakers were connected with leading commissioners at Doc/Dinner, supported by Canon and MC’d by first-time documentary maker Mim Shaikh, including representatives from the BBC, Channel 4, The Guardian and VICE plus Doc/Dinner founder Reggie Yates. Following the connection made at Doc/Dinner 2017 between filmmaker Cherish Oteka and VICE/i-D commissioner Eloise King, Cherish has two short films in development with VICE and i-D.

Eight pitches showcased national and international diverse talent, including the second year of the BBC Northern Pitch, for regional filmmakers.


Total Delegate Spend Across the Festival £1,746,077 Contributes to Local Economic Impact

 A large injection of local spend comes from Festival delegates visiting Sheffield to attend Doc/Fest from all over the world. Based on a survey sent to 3,444 industry delegates that attended this year’s Festival, the economic impact on the City from delegates is calculated as £1,746,077 in spend across the city, meaning that for or every £1 Sheffield Council invests into Doc/Fest, Festival delegates spend £7.05. 


Beyond the Festival: New Digitised Archive for the future

To mark its 25th edition and for legacy, Doc/Fest has digitised an entire record of the film programme from every year (1994–2018), identifying all UK productions amongst the 2762 films. The curators at the BFI National Archive, which preserves one of the world’s largest and richest archival documentary collections, are cross referencing this list with the BFI’s holdings. For the first time this year, Doc/Fest asked all those submitting UK productions to the Festival to specify whether they are interested in their film entering the BFI National Archive for permanent preservation. As a result of this innovative collaboration, 24 new UK titles from the 2018 programme have expressed interest and are now in discussion with the BFI’s curators. These range from experimental independent shorts to theatrically released feature documentaries.

In 2019 Sheffield Doc/Fest takes place from 6-11 June. The Lightning Pass is on sale now for £159.00 plus VAT.


To read full Festival Report please click here:


For further information contact:

Sarah Harvey Publicity

+44 (0) 207 232 2812


About 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 across all platforms, from short film to feature length, series, audio, interactive, augmented reality, virtual reality and special events.

The Festival comprises:

  • Film programme for the very best in international documentary screenings;
  • Alternate Realities for interactive and immersive storyworlds;
  • Special Events including live performance;
  • Talks & Summits with world-renowned filmmakers, to inspire, inform and debate;
  • Marketplace & Talent for international business, delegations, pitching and training;
  • Social events and networking;
  • All Year Film Screenings, Alternate Realities Tours, Talks and Training.


Sheffield Doc/Fest 2019 will take place from 6-11 June