University of Sheffield takes major role in city film festival

Image courtesy of the University of Sheffield Library's National Fairground Archive
Image courtesy of the University of Sheffield Library's National Fairground Archive
  • More than 3,400 film, TV and digital industry delegates expected to attend Sheffield Doc/Fest
  • Sheffield Doc/Fest is one of the top three documentary festivals in the world
  • Footage from the University of Sheffield Library’s National Fairground Archive will feature in the world premiere of The Greatest Shows on Earth to form part of the opening night entertainment
  • Music from members of Sigur Rós, the Icelandic rock band who have appeared in both Game of Thrones and The Simpsons, will also feature
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Film fans are counting down the days to the start of Sheffield Doc/Fest which this year will see the University of Sheffield kicking off the event and playing a major part in the packed programme.

The documentary film festival – which is regarded as one of the best in the world – opens in the city on Friday 5 June 2015 and will run for six days celebrating documentary and factual storytelling in all forms.

The world premiere of The Greatest Shows on Earth: A Century of Vaudeville, Circuses and Carnivals, is the opening night event at Sheffield City Hall. The film is based on exclusive access to the University’s National Fairground Archive (NFA) and the expertise of NFA Director and Head of Engagement at the University of Sheffield, Professor Vanessa Toulmin.

Director Benedikt Erlingsson will take the audience back to the days when the most outlandish, skillful and breath-taking acts travelled the world. The film tells the story of circus performers, cabaret acts and fairground attractions with rarities and never-before-seen footage of fairgrounds, circus entertainment and vaudeville along with music hall and seaside entertainment all chronicled from the 19th and 20th century.

It will also feature an epic new score by Georg Hólm and Orri Páll Dýrason of Icelandic rock band Sigur Rós in collaboration with the Head of Iceland’s Pagan Church, Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson.

There will also be a live circus show and a question and answer session from the director and the band members.

The University is also partnering with Sheffield Doc/Fest to host a number of other events, which include:

How to Pitch Your Academic Idea, on 10 June, 12.45pm, Crucible Studio - five academics will pitch their research to a panel of documentary decision makers and Doc/Fest delegates which could lead to the creation of documentaries.

Sounds of the Cosmos performance, on 9 June, 8.30pm, Crucible Theatre - a collaboration between the Department of Music and the Department of Physics and Astronomy, working with creative agency Human and Sheffield Rep Orchestra for an orchestral performance of Gustav Holst’s The Planets with stunning visuals of real-life space imagery.

Sounds of the Cosmos: The Making Of, on 8 June, 10.15am, Memorial Hall, City Hall - a panel session with the project’s collaborators.

Generation Right, 7 June, 3pm - Professor Stephen Farrall from the School of Law will present his documentary investigating Margaret Thatcher’s impact on crime in the UK.

Professor Vanessa’s Performing Wonders: An Evening of Film and Live Variety Entertainment, on 7 June, 7pm, Memorial Hall, City Hall - Professor Vanessa Toulmin, will present a showcase of neo-variety acts and the late-Victorian and Edwardian performance cultures that inspire them!

Final Days exhibition at Castle House, 5-10 June, Castle House, Sheffield - artist Heather Phillipson will present her newly commissioned video and sculptural installation in partnership with University of Sheffield and Serpentine Galleries and Forma Arts.

Professor Toulmin said: “As Head of Engagement I am delighted that so many of my colleagues from across the University are part of this year’s Doc/Fest - making it a special festival for us all.

“But on a personal level as Director of the NFA we are thrilled that we have co-produced the world premiere of the Greatest Shows on Earth. This really is a once in a lifetime opportunity for us to showcase our world class visuals and film.”

There will also be city-wide screenings of 150 of the best British and international award-winning feature and short documentaries, free exhibitions, live music events, filmmaker masterclasses and headline speakers, including Davina McCall and Nicky Campbell.

Mark Atkin, Acting Festival Director said: “Sheffield Doc/Fest is already one of the top three documentary festivals in the world and is continuing to grow.

“We are delighted to be expanding our partnership with the University of Sheffield to co-produce and co-host a number of inspiring events which are sure to encourage even more Sheffield people to engage with this year’s festival.”

The festival, now in its 22nd year, will close with the international premiere of Monty Python: The Meaning of Live, a film about the ups and downs of the Python troupe as they were preparing for last year’s comeback – their first live show in 34 years. It will be followed by a conversation with Michael Palin and directors Roger Graef and James Rogan.

Sheffield Doc/Fest takes place annually and is attended by over 3,400 film, TV and digital industry delegates. 2015 is the third year that University of Sheffield has worked in partnership with Sheffield Doc/Fest.