Sheffield Doc/Fest: Deals worth over £8 million struck in 2019 as audience grows

Audiences at the Sheffield Doc/Fest have grown by almost 10 per cent – while film deals worth more than £8 million were struck at this year’s event.

Friday, 12th July 2019, 5:43 pm
Updated Tuesday, 16th July 2019, 6:30 pm

Organisers of the documentary festival, which took place over six days last month, have reported public admission figures of 28,000 – a nine per cent increase on 2018 – as well as a 15 per cent rise in the number of tickets sold for individual screenings.

Delegates from 59 countries attended, an analysis of official statistics found, while the festival’s annual MeetMarket – where directors can meet broadcasters and studio chiefs – paved the way for deals worth £8.1 million that are now in negotiation with filmmakers for new projects.

This year, Doc/Fest benefited the local economy to the tune of £2.47 million – for every £1 invested in the conference by Sheffield Council, nearly £11 was spent within the city by audience members.

Melanie Iredale, interim director for the festival’s 2019 edition, said the team was ‘overwhelmed by the response’.

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“Doc/Fest is a space for discovery, collaboration and inspiration and this, together with the festival’s aim to create accessible and welcoming environment, is increasingly attracting young, diverse and switched-on audiences,” Iredale said.

Visitors aged 30 and under made up forty-three per cent of the overall public audience – up 17 per cent from 2018. More than half of attendees were women; the programme featured more films by female directors to address historic gender imbalances.

A record 2,548 documentary films, from 123 countries, were submitted for inclusion this year. The final schedule was comprised of over 182 documentaries; highlights included the premiere of Asif Kapadia’s documentary about Diego Maradona and an early look at Apollo 11, Todd Douglas Miller’s examination of the 1969 Moon landings. Stacey Dooley, Nick Broomfield and Ai Weiwei were among the guests who took part in talks and Q&A sessions.

Doc/Fest began in 1994. Iredale has been replaced by a new permanent festival director, Cíntia Gil, who will join in November from DocLisboa in Portugal which she has led since 2012.