Tomorrow, Friday, June 5 sees the opening of the 22nd Sheffield Doc/Fest, the beloved UK nonfiction event that has gone through significant staff changes over the past year, seeing the departure of several key figures, including director Heather Croall (to Adelaide Fringe Festival), deputy director Charlie Phillips (to the Guardian), and director of programming Hussain Currimbhoy (to Sundance). This edition marks Claire Aguilar’s first in the role of director of programming, having joined the staff after a long tenure at ITVS. Running through Wednesday, June 10, the festival will present over 70 documentary features across a wide range of thematic strands. In addition to curating notable festival favorites, the event offers audiences their first look at several new films, including the opening night debut of Benedikt Erlingsson’s THE GREATEST SHOWS ON EARTH: A CENTURY OF VAUDEVILLE, CIRCUSES AND CARNIVALS, preceded by a live circus show. Other highlights follow below:
The event’s Best of British section highlights UK docs and factual television programming, including: Jamie Roberts’ ANGRY WHITE AND PROUD (pictured), a look of the growth of the far right in the nation; James Newton’s THE DETECTIVES: MANHUNT, about the Manchester police’s sex crimes unit; Dan Reed’s ESCORTS, an investigation into high-end sex work; Marcus Werner Hed and Nathaniel Mellors’ THE R&B FEELING, which follows a British man back to Los Angeles and the performance art scene he was part of in the early 1970s; and Sam Collins’ DEATH OF A GENTLEMAN, which focuses on the future of cricket.
Taking viewers around the world are the films in the Euro/Doc and Global Encounter strands, which include: Violaine Baraduc and Alexandre Westphal’s portrait of several Rwandan women who participated in the 1994 genocide, SHADES OF TRUE; Yann Coquart’s consideration of an acclaimed science fiction novelist, THE WORLDS OF PHILIP K DICK; Poppy Stockell’s profile of three gay Sydney rugby players, SCRUM (pictured); and Jezza Neumann’s look at several families who lost their children in the tragic Newton CT school shooting, SURVIVING SANDY HOOK.
Radical activists and freedom fighters are the focus of Instigators and Agitators, which includes films like E. Chai Vasarhelyi’s INCORRUPTIBLE, about a popular Senegalese youth movement that has sprung up to combat political corruption; Nima Sarvestani’s THOSE WHO SAID NO, detailing the abuses of the Iranian government against political dissidents; and Oleksandr Techynskyi, Aleksey Solodunov and Dmitry Stoykov’s ALL THINGS ABLAZE (pictured), focused on the excitement and chaos of the Ukrainian protests.
Other sections include Ideas & Science, which includes Alison Rose’s STAR MEN (pictured), which reunites British astronomers who worked for NASA in the early 1960s; Women in Docs, which features Chloe Ruthven’s JUNGLE SISTERS, about a British academic’s efforts to recruit impoverished Indian women to work in urban industrial factories; and Behind the Beats, music docs like Mike Todd’s HUSTLERS CONVENTION, on the influential but under-recognized Last Poets, a consciousness raising African American spoken word/music group.