Today, we announce our plans to host four weekends of both physical and online screenings, an art exhibition, talks and discussions, from 2 October – 15 November 2020: 

  • Four weekender events to come each fortnight from 2 October, to The Showroom Cinema Sheffield, and online in parallel, themed around the festival strands: Into the World, Rebellions, Rhyme & Rhythm and Ghosts & Apparitions;
  • Films from the festival retrospective, Reimagining the Land, to screen on print across the above weekenders;  
  • DJ and presenter Yinka Bokinni will discuss her new film in the Channel 4 interview, live in Sheffield, and streamed online; 
  • Journalist and filmmaker Mobeen Azhar will talk about his career in BBC interview, live in Sheffield, and streamed online;
  • Industry panel sessions online throughout October and November set to explore getting into the industry (in partnership with BAFTA), sustainable filmmaking, decolonizing the industry (produced with Girls in Film), new Northern talent and stories (in partnership with BBC) and more;
  • BBC Three Pitch to return online; 
  • Alternate Realities “Ghosts & Apparitions” digital art exhibition at Site Gallery: 11-14 November, featuring artists Keiken & George Jasper Stone, Kitty Clark, Maria Court & Trinidad Piriz and Paula Albuquerque;
  • Film Premieres from Agustina Comedi, Edgardo Cozarinsky, Jérôme Bel, Jia Zhang-Ke, Lynne Ramsay, Marc Isaacs, Mike Hoolboom, Oreet Ashery, Sofia Bohdanowicz; 
  • Tribute to Sarah Maldoror and new titles from filmmakers in focus Lynne Sachs and Simplice Ganou.

2020 has been a year of radical uncertainty and transformation for society, for the arts and cultural sector, and for Sheffield Doc/Fest.

Since our announcement in March, which saw us move our June festival online for the first time in 27 years, we have emphasised the importance of the theatrical experience of cinema. Delivery of an online festival has not replaced what is core to our mission, the physical experience for artists in our programme and live engagement with audiences in our community to events taking place in the heart of the city of Sheffield.

At present, the UK is slowly reopening cinemas and galleries, inviting everyone to come together and participate. Doc/Fest wants to be part of the conversation in reshaping this important dimension of our social, cultural and spiritual lives.

We believe a society cannot fully exist without art and access to culture – a fundamental pillar on which true democracies are built. As an international festival we are part of the global call for a deeper social, political, economic and historical discussion which needs to be grounded in a wide circulation of ideas and collective debate. We want to support the community of Sheffield and our partners who have been hugely affected by the pandemic, and the filmmakers and artists who have also seen their works subject to unprecedented conditions for exhibition.

Each weekend will include a highlight selection of films from the 2020 Official Selection, talks and a digital art exhibition in Sheffield presented in collaboration with our venue partners (Showroom Cinema and Site Gallery) with content also screened online in parallel. Our Autumn selection, involves 40 films of all lengths, spanning 20 countries around the world and representing 17 spoken languages. 7 first-time feature filmmakers included. The Autumn selection includes 7 World Premieres, 7 International Premieres, 3 European Premieres and 19 UK Premieres. 

Our duty of care towards our staff, audiences, community, funders and the artists that are trusting us with their work means we have to be clear about the rules for attending our weekend events. We are working in close consultation with venue partners to ensure that safety is our first priority. We ask that everyone respect and abide by the rules communicated and that we all place collective interests above any individual ones. Beyond protecting ourselves, we have a responsibility to protect each other if we are to rebuild our capacity to be together again in a cinema and in a gallery as well as online.

Sheffield Doc/Fest stands for inclusivity and accessibility to non-fiction film and art. We also recognise that not everyone may be comfortable or in a position to return to the cinema or travel to events. Bearing this in mind we will maintain an online programme throughout the Autumn, on Sheffield Doc/Fest Selects for the public and Doc/Player for industry delegates, in addition to contributing to rebuilding the conditions for people to safely enjoy events in our partner venues.

Read more about our full Autumn Programme, including our Film Programme, Talks & Sessions, Alternate Realities: Ghosts and Apparitions Exhibition, and our Exchange Programme.