Sheffield Doc/Fest 2021 Overview

The 28th Sheffield Doc/Fest

June 4-13

Nearly 80 new and recent features make up the lineup of this well-respected and popular British event, presented in a hybrid format this year.

Among the offerings:
UK Competition:

Director: Nicola Mai
A tribute to the work and legacy of Lorena Borjas, the mother of Latin trans women living in Queens, who was one of the first victims of COVID-19 in New York in March 2020.

Don McCullin: Almost Liverpool 8
Director: Daniel Draper, Allan Melia
Focusing on one photograph from the collection of photojournalist Don McCullin’s early 1970s study of Liverpool, this film paints a parallel contemporary portrait of the same area through the eyes of the people who inhabit it today.

Portrait Of Kaye
Director: Ben Reed
Restricted by her lifelong agoraphobia, Kaye has spent most of her life within the four walls of her parents’ house.

The Quintessence
Director: Pamela Breda
Constructed during a three-year-long research period that involved visits to more than 20 centers and laboratories dedicated to the advanced research of outer space, this film considers the scientific study of outer space as a narrative, and analyzes the hidden dreams and expectations of those shaping contemporary research about the universe.

International Competition:

Charm Circle
Director: Nira Burstein
A portrait of the filmmaker’s eccentric New York family as it navigates the chaos that divides its members.

Factory to the Workers
Director: Srđan Kovačević
In Croatia in 2005, a machine tools factory was successfully taken over by its workers, but now faces the brutal forces of the globalized market economy.

Nũhũ Yãg Mũ Yõg Hãm: This Land Is Our Land!
Director: Isael Maxakali, Sueli Maxakali, Carolina Canguçu, Roberto Romero
A unique and multilayered visual cartography made by Brazilian Indigenous filmmaker and their collaborators.

Director: Pedro Speroni
A portrait of life in a maximum-security prison in Argentina.

Director: Vadim Kostrov
Set in Nizhny Tagil, Russia, a nostalgic journey through the warm middle-Ural summer with eight-year-old Vadim and his half-sister Christina.

This Stained Dawn
Director: Anam Abbas
Detailing the preparation of the multi-city Women’s March in Pakistan, the story of a feminist movement asserting itself in the country’s urban spaces through the eyes of the march’s organizers.

Other Sections:

The Ants and the Grasshopper
Director: Raj Patel, Zak Piper
Anita Chitaya can help bring abundant food from dead soil, make men fight for gender equality, and maybe end child hunger in her village – but now, to save her home in Malawi from extreme weather, she faces her greatest challenge: persuading Americans that climate change is real. 

Director: Julie Nguyen Van Qui
El Quiñon is the youngest city in Spain: a brand new town which was left incomplete when the financial crisis devastated the country’s economy. The first generation of children have now become teenagers, living in a ghost town that is trying to become a community.

Director: Andreas Voigt
An exploration of the borderlands where the outer limits of Poland, Germany, and the Czech Republic intersect.

Fixed barricade at Hamdalaye crossing
Director: Thomas Bauer
A group of frustrated plaintiffs set up rehearsals for the staging of a hypothetical trial in the case of the 2009 massacre of 157 people by security forces in Guinea, using performance to piece together the case as an investigative aid, and an act of catharsis.

Gallant Indies
Director: Philippe Béziat
A young filmmaker works with an acclaimed choreographer to stage a baroque masterpiece at Opéra national de Paris, combining urban dance such as hip-hop, krump, break, and voguing with classical music to challenge the cultural expectations of this venerable, four-century-old institution.

Director: Angelica Cervera
Three years ago, Laura started her transition, and now faces adolescence, and with it, a series of changes that will mean a new chapter for her and her family.

In The Shadow Of 9/11
Director: Dan Reed
The story of a post-9/11 real-life thriller fabricated by the FBI in which seven innocent young Black men from Miami were accused of plotting mass murder with Al Qaeda.

Director: Lee Cooper
After fifty long years in the business, David Raven is still shaking his sequins as Maisie Trollette, Britain’s oldest drag artist. 

My Childhood, My Country: 20 Years in Afghanistan
Director: Phil Grabsky, Shoaib Sharifi
A real-life epic of boyhood and manhood that follows the same individual over 20 years, living in one of the most dangerous countries in the world.

No Straight Lines: The Rise of Queer Comics
Director: Vivian Kleiman
A profile of five pioneers of this fascinating art scene – Alison Bechdel, Howard Cruse, Jennifer Camper, Rupert Kinnard, and Mary Wings – producing commentary on everything from the AIDS crisis and workplace discrimination to the search for love and a good haircut. 

One Image, Two Acts
Director: Sanaz Sohrabi
An examination of the photographic archives of British Petroleum during its operations in Iran, exploring its widespread construction of cinemas in the country’s oil towns, sustaining a homogenous colonial narrative through the appropriation of films and monopolization of land.

Roses. Film-Cabaret
Director: Irena Stetsenko
From the Ukrainian uprising came the Dakh Daughters, a punk cabaret performance act comprising seven artists, who play 15 instruments between them. The film follows preparations for their first stage show, a multilingual and multi-instrumental tragicomic musical theatre production, through which the group explore their roles as artists, as women, and as citizens living through times of revolution and war.

The Savior For Sale: The Story of the Salvator Mundi
Director: Antoine Vitkine
Delving into the murky depths of the art world, an investigation into the influence that one painting can have.

Sing, Freetown
Director: Clive Patterson
Sierra Leone-raised and London-based TV journalist Sorious Samura embarks on a journey to create an inspiring work of national theatre, hoping to restore pride to Sierra Leone. 

Director: Natalia Garayalde
The filmmaker revisits footage she shot as a 12 year old when the munitions factory in her hometown exploded in 1995.

Director: Mark Cousins
In a deeply personal meditation on the power of looking in his own life, the filmmaker prepares for surgery to restore his vision. 

This Shore: A Family Story
Director: Tzu-An Wu
Wandering through Cold War constructions, Taiwan-US relations, generations of diaspora, family romances, and ghost stories, this film transforms personal and collective familial memories into a reworking of The Flying Dutchman, wherein they are doomed to sail the oceans forevermore.

Director: Steve McQueen, James Rogan
A vivid and visceral three-part series which examines three events from 1981: in January, the New Cross Fire which killed 13 black teenagers; in March, Black People’s Action Day, which saw more than 20,000 people join the first organized mass protest by black British people; and then the Brixton riots in April.


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