Announcing our new Managing Director: Annabel Grundy

Annabel Grundy wearing a black jumper and trousers. Stood outside, surrounded by fallen autumn leaves. She's pictured against painted with a graffiti style mural - white text against a blue background reads: You and me both mate.
Image Credit: Mark Howe


We are thrilled to announce the appointment of our new Managing Director, Annabel Grundy. Annabel will join the Festival in December from her current role project-managing the BFI’s UK Global Screen Fund, a new £7m pa fund from the UK Government designed to support international growth opportunities for the UK Screen Sector. Her role for the last two years included establishing and launching the fund in 2021 as well as financial oversight of international co-production, business development and film sales awards.

As Managing Director, Annabel will be responsible for the charity’s business affairs, partnerships & fundraising, production & operations as well as audience development. The role is a new, joint leadership position and will work collaboratively with Raul Niño Zambrano who - as previously announced - has moved into the role of Acting Creative Director. Raul is responsible for setting the programme agenda across the Festival’s Film Programmes, Alternate Realities exhibition, Marketplace & Talent activities, and Talks & Sessions for the 30th edition in 2023.

Alex Cooke, Chair of the Board of Trustees, says -We are delighted to welcome Annabel to lead Sheffield DocFest into the future as our new Managing Director. Strategic and business-minded, Annabel combines international perspective and experience with a deep commitment to Sheffield and audiences in the North, evidenced by her time working with BFI’s Film Audience Network. This combination of strengths sees Annabel well-placed to consolidate all the potential that South Yorkshire offers and to continue to grow Sheffield DocFest’s global impact.

Annabel Grundy, incoming Managing Director says -Taking up this role with Sheffield DocFest feels like coming home. I have participated in the festival as an audience member, as a consultant and an industry decision maker, so I know intimately how much care and expertise goes into crafting an outstanding programme each year. I’m honoured to join the dedicated and passionate team that delivers a world class programme, right here in Sheffield, and excited to take the charity forward into our 30-year celebrations in 2023, developing future editions and our year-round activity. 

Annabel is a Sheffield local with over twenty years of experience working with UK and international film organisations. She has produced large scale, public-facing festivals and film industry events in Sydney, London and Edinburgh and has worked with, among others, British Council, Riverside Studios, Edinburgh International Film Festival and latterly BFI Film Audience Network where she delivered UK-wide film programmes, growing young and diverse audiences for specialised film and developing new voices in film curation. Annabel is also a current Global MBA candidate at AMBS Manchester. She commences at Sheffield DocFest on the 19 December.

Annabel Grundy continues: “Documentary can give voice to the unheard, act as a powerful tool for change and can simply tell incredible stories that connect people.  Sheffield DocFest backs local talent and has strong bonds with an international community in a growing sector. We continue to expand boundaries of storytelling and technology with our immersive Alternate Realities programme.  It’s an exciting time to join the organisation as we move beyond pandemic recovery and focus on our true purpose - championing the art of docs - for local audiences looking for an extraordinary experience on their doorstep, and for the makers and filmmakers who continue to join us for inspiration, business connections and a great time in June each year!"

Interim CEO Clare Stewart will support the transition for both Managing and Creative Directors and conclude her role at the end of the year as planned. 

Clare Stewart, Interim CEO says, “I love Sheffield DocFest and have relished the opportunity to be its custodian this last year. The festival plays a hugely important role in the British documentary ecosystem, has impressive global impact and is deeply embedded in a city that embraces creativity and curiosity. At a time of great challenge for film festivals everywhere, it is important to underscore and properly value how much this charitable organisation achieves, and to support its inspiring new leadership – Annabel Grundy and Raul Niño Zambrano – and their vision for the future”.


Next year’s festival will run from Wednesday 14 June to Monday 19 June 2023In a change to past schedules, the MeetMarket pitching forum will take place on Thursday 15 June and Friday 16 June.

Entries for Film Programme and Alternate Realities - our XR and immersive programme - are now open. Click here to find out more.

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