VIDEO: Cocker and Hawley launch Sheffield Doc Fest

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Jarvis Cocker and Richard Hawley will perform at a special homecoming concert tonight to celebrate 100-years of stainless steel and launch Sheffield Doc/Fest, writes Graham Walker

Theyteel city icons will team up with with a string quartet, a brass band, The Forgemasters and a children’s choir to play at the world premiere screening of The Big Melt, which tells the story of Sheffield steel, at The Crucible (Wedesday, June 12, 6pm).

VIDEO: Press the play button to watch Doc/Fest Film Programmer Hussain Currimbhoy preview highlight’s from the first day of the documentary festival, which is celebtrating its 20th anniversary

The Big Melt, including footage from the BFI National Archive, features Cocker’s score and the documentary is directed by his long-time collaborator Martin Wallace.

It is billed as taking the audience on a musical journey into the soul of the nation, bringing life to ghosts of the past, leading into the belly of the furnaces and showing how national characters have been stamped from the mighty presses of our industrial heritage.

The event will kick off this year’s Doc/Fest, the internationally acclaimed documentary destival, which runs until Sunday and features household names including guest talks by Michael Palin, Melvyn Bragg, Sir Trevor McDonald and Alan Yentob.

Cocker, the musical director of The Big Melt, gathered a group of leading Sheffield musicians to create a score for the film.

In a reference to British film classic Kes, filmed in neighbouring coal town Barnsley, Jarvis said: “Just like Billy Casper told Jud he’d “never work down t’pit”, I vowed never to get in all that “Sheffield: Steel City” biz.

“But guess what? Looking at the BFI’s awesome collection of steel-related films changed my mind. I only hope that we can pay proper homage to the extraordinary individuals featured in this footage.

“Our aim is to melt faces (& hearts) -& to blow minds. With maybe a bit of smelting thrown in for good measure. The jesses are so off.”

Director Wallace said: “We wanted to tell a story about steel that opened-out the basic social history and facts about the process itself. There are some awesome BFI archive films that already paint a vivid picture of the real story, so we wanted to drag this archive into the present, re-imagine and invigorate it, turn it into something more fantastical, more playful and, at the same time, more challenging.

Heather Croall, Sheffield Doc/Fest Director, added: The Big Melt depicts the process of steel production and the industrial images are striking but ultimately it is a moving film about the people. It captures their spirit and it feels particularly poignant to premiere the film in the Steel City of Sheffield - and at The Crucible Theatre, no less.”

Nick Fraser Series Editor for STORYVILLE BBC4, said: “Sheffield, steel, sweat and Jarvis Cocker - who could ask for anything more.....? Doc/Fest’s archive and music offering last year From The Sea To The Land Beyond was addictive, and performed well for STORYVILLE on BBC4. We’re sure THE BIG MELT will do the same.

Ros Cranston, BFI National Archive curator, said: “The restoration and screening of key archive film footage is at the centre of the BFI’s This Working Life: Steel project. For so many people this isn’t Britain’s ‘industrial heritage’, it’s their family history. We’ve been taking newly restored archive film around the UK to Sheffield, Cardiff, Tyneside and Glasgow; and it’s thrilling to work with legendary Sheffield musicians on The Big Melt.”

Only return tickets may be available for this performance, which takes place on Wednesday, June 12, at 6pm. Try in person at the venue, also visit and call 0114 249 6000.




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