Sunday, 27 July 2014

Sheffield Doc Fest

Sheffield Doc Fest 2014

This year’s Sheffield Doc Fest brought together a collection of interesting and often inspiring factual films from around the globe. I was fortunate enough to attend the festival this year and I managed to see about three films each day. I feel disappointed that I didn’t actually see more, because with good planning you would be able to view about six or seven films each day. However I was not disappointed at all with the films that I was able to view. In fact I felt quite privileged to have the opportunity to see them. Many of the films that I saw were world premiers. The films ranged from the story of an Iranian girl, struggling to achieve her dreams whilst growing up in an un-accepting Iran, to the first look at the Chris Sievey documentary, the man behind Frank Sidebottom. There was a staggering range of films which would appeal to a wide ranging audience. The festival kicked off with a documentary about the band Pulp who are from Sheffield. This show was sold out and I was lucky enough to get one of the last tickets. There was a very special atmosphere that resonated around the City Hall where I watched the film, and I felt it set the tone for the rest of the festival.

I arrived at the festival not knowing what to expect. I had checked out the website before hand however I didn’t realise how vast it would be. In all honesty I was expecting a fairly small event. I had mainly arrived at this assumption because I had heard that there would only be 3000 people attending. Compare this to a music festival and it’s a tiny figure. However this festival is designed for media professionals and real film enthusiasts. This meant that virtually every screening was full. The choice of location for screening was fantastic. Most of the locations were in Sheffield City centre, where they used cinemas, theatres and large grand buildings such as the City Hall. However the best locations were outside of the city centre and involved going for a bus ride. The first journey I went on took me to the Devil’s Arsehole, which was actually a beautiful cave just outside of Sheffield. Here I watched the Oscar winning documentary 20 Feet From Stardom. This film was about backing singers from the sixties who had never made it as lead singers. However their vocal talent far surpassed many of their contemporaries. I had wanted to watch this film since I had heard about it a few month previous, but watching it in the cave made it a far more special occasion. The destination of the second bus ride was Chatsworth House, which is a breathtaking location about 40 minutes away from Sheffield. Here I was fortunate to see the world premier of All is Love, which was a film funnily enough about all things love. The film was made using only archive footage provided by the BFI. It was truly incredible to watch and what made the film so enjoyable was the phenomenal soundtrack which accompanied the moving images.

Doc Fest had so much to offer that I should carry on much longer to attempt to do it justice. Perhaps I should mention the cool freebies and daily wine receptions as well as the awesome networking opportunities, oh and the Art Gallery that they turned into a Night club! Instead I will merely just say check it out for yourselves next year. I promise if you’re passionate about film you will not be disappointed. Finally I want to thank Sarah Haynes and LJMU for providing the opportunity to attend this event and I sincerely hope that I can attend next year’s Sheffield Doc Fest.

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