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Sheffield Doc Fest Announces New Autumn Film and Art Festival Weekenders

Sheffield Doc Fest has announced 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 want 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.


Running physically and online, Sheffield Doc/Fest today announces its Talks programme and here recaps details of its Film programme, Alternate Realities digital art exhibition and Exchange programme.


Along with the films and artworks we present a selection of talks with emerging documentary talent and a series of virtual panel sessions exploring: how to get that first break; decolonisation and documentary; sustainable filmmaking and new Northern filmmakers and stories. Full details including dates and times will be announced in due course.

Channel 4 Interview: Yinka Bokinni

(physical talk in Sheffield + live stream)

We welcome DJ, radio and TV presenter, blogger and South London native, Yinka Bokinni for this years’ Channel 4 interview. As a key presenter on Capital XTRA, and before that Rinse FM, Yinka has become an influential voice across the UK hip-hop, grime and R&B scene. Yinka has collaborated with emerging film director Ashley-Francis Roy and independent production company ACME Films to front a new film for Channel 4 Damilola: The Boy Next Door (w/t). The film explores the high-profile murder of ten-year-old Damilola Taylor in 2000, Yinka’s own childhood friendship with Damilola and the effect of his murder on both herself and the wider Peckham community. Yinka will talk about the making of the film and her wider career in the media.

Supported by Channel 4

BBC Interview: Mobeen Azhaar

(physical talk in Sheffield + live stream)

Journalist and filmmaker Mobeen Azhar has been producing and presenting across BBC TV and radio for over 15 years. Much of his work explores the British Asian experience, and his most recent award-winning series for BBC Three, Hometown: A Killing, saw him return home to Huddersfield to investigate the death of Yassar Yaqub, shot by police in January 2017, and uncovering institutional racism, everyday violence and the heroin trade in West Yorkshire. Mobeen is a regular presenter on BBC Asian Network, including hosting the long-running series Group Chat, focusing on issues affecting young British Asians. He will talk to Fiona Campbell (Controller, BBC Three) about his career and offer advice for aspiring journalists and filmmakers.

Supported by BBC

My Big Break

(virtual session)

Talented, emerging filmmakers and artists, working across the spectrum of film and television, and at varying stages in their careers, share their own experiences of starting out in the industry. They will talk frankly about the obstacles they have had to overcome and about creating the opportunities that brought them to where they are today. They will share their own thoughts on how the industry needs to change to better support a wide range of emerging talent and storytellers.

Supported by BAFTA

Decolonising Documentary

(virtual session)

The decolonisation of documentary as both an art form and industry is long overdue. No filmmaker can anticipate and respond to the entire gamut of human experience, and nor should they be reduced to only portray stories from their own communities. However, the ease with which established white filmmakers gain access to funding and the lack of critical awareness shown by institutions about who’s involved in decision making and authorship must be interrogated. As an industry, we must be continually questioning ourselves and each other on whether the leadership of a film reflects the community and on how to ensure that narratives are restorative and not exploitative. Chaired by Carmen Thompson (Africa in Motion), filmmakers and funders will come together to discuss these systemic and creative inequalities and the urgent need to decolonise the documentary landscape.

Supported by Girls in Film

New Northern Documentary Talent: Finding and Keeping

(virtual session)

With various regional development initiatives and the continued move of broadcaster hubs to the North there is more opportunity than ever before for filmmakers based in the North to get their stories made and seen. But what happens when these schemes come to an end? A panel of gatekeepers and filmmakers will explore how the industry can continue to identify, champion and nurture Northern based talent, and create sustainable pathways and career progression routes for those working outside of London.

Supported by BBC

No Planet B: Moving Towards A More Sustainable Film and Arts Industry

(virtual session)

The research organisation Global Footprint Network has reported that coronavirus-induced lockdowns have led to a nearly 10% reduction in humanity’s ecological footprint compared to in 2019. With much of the film, TV and Visual Art industries put on hold and international festival gatherings cancelled or moved online, our sector will certainly have contributed to this. But as the industry begins moving once again, how can this positive decline be carried forward? A panel of filmmakers, artists, producers and industry bodies discuss the effects that our industries have on the planet, how film and art can create positive change, and explore the practicalities of reducing our carbon footprint.

BBC Three Pitch 2020

(virtual session)

Sheffield Doc/Fest will once again host the BBC Three Pitch 2020, as we continue to champion emerging filmmaking talent. Five emerging filmmakers from the North of England will pitch their documentary idea to a panel of commissioners, including BBC Three Controller Fiona Campbell, for the prize of a commission for BBC Three, with the support of a Northern based production company.

Call for application is currently open. Deadline to apply with your documentary idea is 30 September.

Supported by BBC


Into the World
Friday 2 – Sunday 4 October at Showroom Cinema, Sheffield, and on Sheffield Doc/Fest Selects and Doc/Player until Thursday 15 October.

Films by essential directors with essential themes that take varied approaches to exploring our past, present and collective future.

ไกลบ้าน / AWAY, Teeraphan Ngowjeenanan, Thailand, 2019, 36’ – International Premiere

FILM ABOUT A FATHER WHO, Lynne Sachs, USA, 2020, 74’ – International Premiere

JUDY VERSUS CAPITALISM, Mike Hoolboom, Canada, 2020, 62’ – UK Premiere

MEMORY IS OUR HOMELAND, Jonathan Kolodziej Durand, Canada, 2019, 90’ – UK Premiere

Playback. Ensayo de una Despedida / PLAYBACK, Agustina Comedi, Argentina, 2019, 14’ – UK Premiere

REMNANTS OF A REVOLUTION, Cha Escala, Philippines, 2019, 74’ – World Premiere

Yi zhi you dao hai shui bian lan / SWIMMING OUT TILL THE SEA TURNS BLUE, Jia Zhang-Ke, China, 2020, 112’ – UK Premiere

Le Kiosque / THE KIOSK, Alexandra Pianelli, France, 2019, 78’ – UK Premiere

THIS MEANS MORE, Nicolas Gourault, France, 2019, 22’ – UK Premiere

Tribute to Sarah Maldoror:

Monangambée / MONANGAMBEE, Sarah Maldoror, Algeria, 1969, 18’

The Sarah Maldoror screening will include other titles yet to be announced.


Friday 16 – Sunday 18 October at Showroom Cinema, Sheffield, and on Sheffield Doc/Fest Selects and Doc/Player until Thursday 29 October.

Films that try to decipher the world while being an agent of change: either through the promise of revolution by both collective and individual beings, as an act of resistance and protection, or as a refusal to forget. The Rebellions strand is supported by Bertha Foundation.

ANTONIO & PITI, Vincent Carelli, Wewito Pyiãki, Brazil, 2019, 78’ – European Premiere

THE ART OF LIVING IN DANGER, Mina Keshavarez, Germany / Iran, 2020, 85’ – European Premiere

BACK YARD, Arlin Golden, USA, 2019, 7’ – International Premiere

CAMAGROGA, Alfonso Amador, Spain, 2020, 111’ – World Premiere

Konstrukcijas / CONSTRUCTIONS, Ilona Bruvere, Latvia, 2019, 95’ – International Premiere

A Nossa Terra, O Nosso Altar / OUR LAND, OUR ALTAR, André Guiomar, Portugal, 2020, 77’ – World Premiere

OUTSIDE, Danielle Arbid, France, 2020, 5’

THE FILMMAKER’S HOUSE, Mark Isaacs, United Kingdom, 2020, 76’ – World Premiere

L’Inconnu / THE UNKNOWN, Simplice Herman Ganou, Switzerland, 2020, 12’ – UK Premiere

Cadê Edson? / WHERE’S EDSON?, Dacia Ibiapina, Brazil, 2020, 72’ – UK Premiere

Les Épisodes – Printemps 2018 / EPISODES – SPRING 2019, Mathilde Girard, France, 2020, International Premiere (only online)

Rhyme & Rhythm

Friday 30 October – Sunday 1 November at Showroom Cinema, Sheffield, and on Sheffield Doc/Fest Selects and Doc/Player until Thursday 12 November.

Rhyme & Rhythm are films where cinema and other art forms meet, whether through performance, theatre, visual art or music. Each film offers encounters and inspirations to a different beat.

BRIGITTE, Lynne Ramsay, United Kingdom, 2019, 30’ Faith i Branko / FAITH AND BRANKO, Catherine Harte, United Kingdom / Serbia, 2020, 82’ – World Premiere

Khoraman / GRACEFULLY, Arash Eshaghi, Iran, 2019, 62’ – UK Premiere

KING ROCKER, Michael Cumming, United Kingdom, 2020, 90’ – World Premiere

MEDIUM, Edgardo Cozarinsky, Argentina, 2020, 71’ – UK Premiere

Rétrospective / RETROSPECTIVE, Jérôme Bel, France, 2019, 92’ – UK Premiere

Schlingensief – In das Schweigen hineinschreien / SCHLINGENSIEF – A VOICE THAT SHOOK THE SILENCE, Bettina Böhler, Germany, 2020, 124’ – UK Premiere

SISTERS WITH TRANSISTORS, Lisa Rovner, United Kingdom, 2020, 82’ – European Premiere

WELCOME TO A BRIGHT WHITE LIMBO, Cara Holmes, Ireland, 2019, 11’ – International Premiere

Ghosts & Apparitions

Friday 13 – Sunday 14 November at Showroom Cinema, Sheffield, and on Sheffield Doc/Fest Selects and Doc/Player until Thursday 26 November.

More experimental films, playing with form and showcasing the dismantling of frontiers based on histories and collective memory.

Augas Abisais / DEEP WATERS, Xacio Baño, Spain, 2020, 25’ – World Premiere

DYING UNDER YOUR EYES, Oreet Ashery, Israel / United Kingdom, 2019, 27’

Todo lo que se olvida en un instante / EVERYTHING THAT IS FORGOTTEN IN A INSTANT, Richard Shpuntoff, Argentina, 2020, 71’ – UK Premiere

FREM, Viera Čákanyová, Czech Republic, Slovakia, 2019, 73’ – UK Premiere

A Metamorfose dos Pássaros / THE METAMORPHOSIS OF BIRDS, Catarina Vasconcelos, Portugal, 2020, 101 min – UK Premiere (not available online, screening in Sheffield only)

MON AMOUR, David Teboul, France, 2019, 172’ – UK Premiere

POINT AND LINE TO PLANE, Sofia Bohdanowicz, Canada, 2020, 18’ – UK Premiere

SANTIKHIRI SONATA, Thunska Pansittivorakul, Thailand, Germany, 2019, 75’ – UK Premiere

地洞 / THE TUNNEL, Hui-ju Hsu, Taiwan, 2020, 30’ – International Premiere

TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES, Hannah Jayanti, USA, 2020, 103’ – UK Premiere

Retrospective: Reimagining the LandDates TBC – at Showroom Cinema, Sheffield

Our annual retrospective this year is entitled Reimagining the Land. This programme reasserts the primacy of the land as a critical way of thinking about the world and about its various crises – confronting historical images of land, agriculture, rural life, and proletarian struggle. Reimagining the Land has been curated by Christopher Small.

Bharat Mata / MOTHER INDIA, Mehboob Khan, India, 1957, 172’ (screening on 35mm)

Nippon-Koku Furuyashiki-Mura / A JAPANESE VILLAGE, Ogawa Productions, Japan, 1982, 213’ (screening on 16mm)

Waqai sanawat al-djamr / CHRONICLE OF THE YEARS OF FIRE, Mohammed Lakhdar-Hamina, Algeria, 1975, 177’ (screening on 35mm)


Ghosts & Apparitions

As part of our Ghosts & Apparitions weekender will run our exhibition, Wednesday 11 – Sunday 15 November, at Site Gallery, Sheffield. The Ghosts & Apparitions exhibition programme reflects on societal movements, sonic warfare and planetary health, through alternate channels of communication and interaction. The artworks in this programme are presented in a variety of mediums that transfix and transform their spatial surrounding, through narrative or form. The exhibition runs parallel to and in dialogue with the film programme strand of the same name.

FEEL MY METAVERSE, Keiken, George Jasper Stone / UK / 2019 / Film Installation with AR Filters / 36’

OVERHEAD 21, Paula Albuquerque / Netherlands / 2020 / Sound Installation / 5’

THE BURST OF THINGS: OBJECTS ARE ALIVE AND HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY / Maria Court, Trinidad Piriz / Chile / 2020 / Audiovisual Installation / 28’

THE EXPERIMENT, Kitty Clark / UK / 2019 / Audio Installation / 5’

Alternate Realities programme is free and open to all and supported by Arts Council England.


What happened when a human who wanted to change the world met a camera? The Exchange programme celebrates new connections, stories and artistic discoveries from residencies and community commissions undertaken during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Responding to our free film programme, documenting indigenous ways of life, and in solidarity with the Kraho community in Brasil, during lockdown, we kickstarted a rebellion in the making of new work. This included a series of local and international micro commissions and artist exchanges.

Resisting the return to ‘business as usual’, we invite audiences to slow down, take time out and collectively reflect on the present moment, as a moment of possibility. A moment to surface the world we want. In encouraging deep listening, recovery, healing and reparation, we hope to offer new possibilities for sustaining community connections, whilst fulfilling a desire for nurturing equitable ways of living, ecological balance: structures, rhythms, creative practices and cultures that better support life.

Our 2020 Exchange commissions:

NeuroLove in partnership with Raising Films

Unite for Climate Action

Israac and The Diaspora Multimedia Hub

Three artists residencies, feature Farzana Khan of Healing Justice London and an international exchange between artists, Suzie Larke (UK) and Tsoku Maela (South Africa), in partnership with Unlimited/ British Council. 

Doc/Fest, led by the Exchange Curator, Erinma Ochu and Head of Participation, Maria Stoneman, are working closely with the commissions to explore inclusive, accessible and Covid-19 safe ways to share their work. This is likely to include a selection of films, made available online, via Sheffield Doc/Fest Selects, and online in-conversations, to celebrate the exchanges. For more information, timings and updates, about each commission visit.

The Exchange programme is free and open to all, and supported by Wellcome.

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