Sheffield film festival is licensed to thrill, says Bond man

Licensed to thrill: James Bond director Micahel Apted at Sheffield DocFest. Photo: Graham Walker.
Licensed to thrill: James Bond director Micahel Apted at Sheffield DocFest. Photo: Graham Walker.
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JAMES Bond director Michael Apted had Sheffield Doc/Fest organisers in double-0 heaven – praising this year’s programme as a ‘licence to thrill’.

Apted, aged 71, one of the most prolific British film and TV directors of his generation, was a headline guest of the city’s annual five-day documentary festival, which runs until Sunday.

He spoke to film-makers and fans about his Up films, the award-winning documentary series which has followed the lives of ordinary people every seven years since 1964.

But he also discussed his other work, from directing Coronation Street to Hollywood blockbusters including Agatha, Gorillas in The Mist, Gorky Park, Coal Miner’s Daughter, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and 1999 Bond film, The World Is Not Enough.

And with other festival highlights including 120 screenings, 11 world premieres, free outdoor film shows on the Howard Street Screen and talks by other big names, he said Doc/Fest had put the city on the film-making world map.

Speaking ahead of his talk at Sheffield Town Hall, he said: “A licence to thrill? I think so, yes. This film festival is top of the notch. Doc/Fest is very important to Sheffield.

“I’ve been here before and I’m amazed how much the festival has grown. It’s now maybe one of the two biggest documentary festivals in the world.

“It puts Sheffield on the map and the city becomes part of the language of the audio-visual world.”

His advice to budding film-makers was to use low-cost technology to get on with the job.

He said: “When I was growing up you needed a big crew, film stock and it was expensive. My advice to film-makers at DocFest is get on and do the job – especially in this age of technology.

“I’m here mainly talking about 56 Up. I believe this is ITV’s first real appearance at this festival - to show the world ITV is interested in doing documentaries.

“Up seems to get more interesting as it gets older.

“People get to an age when they start thinking about grandchildren and mortality.

“If people are still interested and they seem to be – I’ll keep going as long as I’m above ground or I’ve got my marbles.”

As part of its programme, Sheffield Doc/Fest has also seen an outdoor screen erected in Howard Street in sheffield city centre.

n For full details of Sheffield Doc/Fest, visit