From Woodseats to the Moon via Maradona, Stacey Dooley and Bradley Wiggins: Sheffield Doc/Fest announces full 2019 programme

The 26th edition of the Sheffield Doc/Fest will take audiences from the changing room of a community football team to the surface of the Moon with a programme of documentaries dominated by women filmmakers.

Thursday, 9th May 2019, 9:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 15th May 2019, 10:17 pm

The 2019 festival runs from June 6 to 11, and among the newly-announced highlights in the full line-up – revealed today – are The Campaigners, directed by Jamie Taylor, which focuses on Woodseats Working Men’s Football Club, while Douglas Miller’s Apollo 11 includes unseen footage sourced by Sheffield-based NASA archive expert Stephen Slater that gets to the heart of the 1969 Moon landings.

Cycling champion Sir Bradley Wiggins is to give a live interview talking about his new documentary Tour De Flight, which finds him pedalling his way across the English Channel to France in a human-powered aircraft, seven years after winning the Tour de France.

In the European premiere of Mike Wallace Is Here, Avi Belkin charts the life and career of CBS 60 Minutes newsman Mike Wallace, showing how he redefined broadcast journalism with his hard-hitting interview style. Meanwhile the specially-commissioned Radical Broadcasts programme celebrates the work of television director and Leeds native Mike Dibb, co-creator of John Berger’s influential BBC series Ways of Seeing – the title of which is the tagline of this year's Doc/Fest.

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PJ Harvey as featured in Seamus Murphy's film "A Dog Called Money".

Elsewhere a new strand, Spotlight, will offer screenings followed by in-depth conversations. Featured directors include acclaimed Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, whose film The Rest looks at the plight faced by refugees; Werner Herzog, who presents Nomad: In the Footsteps of Bruce Chatwin, a portrait of the late Sheffield-born writer, and Seamus Murphy with A Dog Called Money which explores the creation of musician PJ Harvey’s 2016 album The Hope Six Demolition Project.

The festival's Alternate Realities section is also returning, bringing 28 free digital art exhibitions ranging from immersive, interactive experiences to live performances. These include Forest, a virtual reality installation by Kelsey Boncato and Daniel Oldham which provides a journey through a landscape of ancient pine trees, and Algorithmic Perfumery by Frederik Duerinck, which promises to make an original scent for every visitor.

Doc/Fest attracts more than 25,000 people annually – in 2018, the economic benefit to Sheffield totalled £1.7 million. An important element is the opportunity for attendees to unlock funding for new projects; the value of deals struck by delegates last year amounted to £10.5 million.

Sheffield's is the largest documentary festival in the UK, as well as being the city's biggest conference.

A still from Apollo 11.

Previously-announced highlights for 2019 include the opening night film, Asif Kapadia’s Diego Maradona, as well as a live interview with investigative journalist and Strictly Come Dancing winner Stacey Dooley. Renowned documentary-maker Nick Broomfield will give the UK premiere of his new work Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love, about singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen and his muse Marianne Ihlen.

Nick Hornby, the bestselling author and screenwriter, is hosting this year’s Desert Island Docs session and director Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Ultimatum, Bloody Sunday) will be in conversation about his journey from TV documentaries to Hollywood movies.

One item missing from the Doc/Fest programme is The Quiet One, Oliver Murray’s film about the former Rolling Stones bass player Bill Wyman, which was quickly pulled following an outcry centred on Wyman’s relationship with his ex-wife Mandy Smith. The pair met when she was 13 and he was 47. Wyman was set to visit the festival for the documentary's European premiere.

Organisers say 57 per cent of the films picked for 2019's competition categories have been made by women, addressing a historic gender imbalance. A selection of films called Operate Heavy Machinery will celebrate Northern women in the world of work while another series, Rebel Films for Girls, hopes to foster ‘confidence, creativity and collaboration between young women’. Artist Charlotte Jarvis, meanwhile, will talk about her In Posse project, which involves making ‘female sperm’, as part of an all-female list of speakers at the Alternate Realities Summit.

A still from The Campaigners.

Live music performances include appearances from Kate Nash, who is playing alongside Underestimate The Girl, a film about her career, and Japanese rock band Bo Ningen who are accompanying several short films by Toshio Matsumoto. Films from Japan also benefit from their own dedicated strand, New/Japan.

A focus on LGBTQ+ communities leads with Deep In Vogue, a film about the Vogue Ball scene in Manchester – a counterpart to the New York phenomenon which is back in the limelight thanks to the US drama series Pose.

Contemporary stories by newcomers have been selected for the New/UK strand, among them Jobie Nam’s Fast Talk, which tells the story of Steve Woodmore from Kent, offering a look at the strange pastime of competitive fast-talking in the late 1980s, and Alice Aedy’s Disconnected, which plays anonymous voicemails that young people left for the Minister for Loneliness against images of British cities and faces illuminated by smartphones.

The festival launch is at Sheffield City Hall. Other venues include the Showroom, Site Gallery and a free screen on Howard Street sponsored by The Light cinema. The From Door to Doc outreach scheme, backed by the Wellcome Trust, offers activities and return travel to Doc/Fest for £1 to those living in deprived areas in and around Sheffield.

Stacey Dooley.

Melanie Iredale, interim director of Sheffield Doc/Fest, said: “This year’s Doc/Fest celebrates local talent, internationalism, creativity and discovery; looking at the world with new eyes and giving a platform to a multitude of voices and ideas. I am so excited to be unveiling a line-up of 180+ films and 28 Alternate Realities projects - from over 50 countries around the world, and over 50 per cent of which are made by women.”

Alternate Realities curator Dan Tucker said audiences can expect ‘new ways of seeing, new ways of hearing and new ways of participating’, while director of film programming Luke W Moody emphasised the power of documentary cinema, saying: “On the big screen we take and show risk that inspires, share difference that connects, exhibit possibilities that propel. These true stories leak sweetness, brood on injustice and thump with rhythm of the present. Alongside celebrating masters of non-fiction cinema we place particular emphasis on new talent and images of youth: spirited energies, hearts and voices calling for change, for inclusion, for a better world that is theirs to inherit.”

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