SHEFFIELD  DOC/FEST 2016: HBO’s Sheila Nevins, Sharp Minds, Original Thinkers, VR & Artificial Intelligence

by Madelyn Most.

Sheffield’s Doc/Fest is the UK’s largest documentary festival and the world’s #3.

Attendance:

This 23rd edition from June 10-15th attracted almost 33,000 participants and audience members:

  • They included filmmakers, activists, curators, journalists, commissioning editors, directors, heads of foundations, religious leaders, lawyers, educators and film lovers.
  • 3,500+ industry delegates attended from 60 countries.
  • 160 docs were screened: 29 were world premieres.

The Doc / Fest trailer

Program

  • The 6-day festival included 340 events: film screenings, panels, over 80 talks and presentations.
  • A Marketplace was a forum to discuss funding, sales and distribution issues.
  • The ‘Meet Market’ offered filmmakers a chance to pitch their projects to international funders, broadcasters, distributors, sales agents and exhibitors.
  • An On-Screen Factual Talent Market connected experts from different disciplines with producers and commissioners.

Moore

Highlights

  • Michael Moore’s “Where to Invade Next” was followed by a Channel 4 interview
  • A Talk with 90 year old Sir David Attenborough
  • A panel entitled “Our BBC, Our Channel 4: A Future for Public Service TV?” with Lord David Puttnam
  • A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus presented “Unlocking the Cage”
  • An interview with Ken Loach
  • The panel ‘Female Trailblazers’ with Director / Cinematographer Kristen Johnson who premiered her film ‘Cameraperson’
  • A Conversation with Sheila Nevins, President of HBO Documentary Films. Nevins was interviewed by BBC Storyville’s Nick Fraser.
  • Tilda Swinton and Bartek Dziadosz closed the festival with “The Seasons In Quincy: Four Portraits of John Berger”.

Talks

  • It was hard to keep up with the countless ‘Talks’ with wide ranging themes that extended from editorial to platform issues.
  • They included: “There’s Something About Muslims”, “Surviving Danger Zone Docs”, “Viva la Revolucion: Video Activism and Citizen Journalism”, “Honest Truths: The Ethical Challengers of Filmmaking”, “Documentary and Trauma: A Survival Guide”, “Does it Matter Who Funds My Film?”, “Into the Land of VOD: How I Tried to Contact Netflix”, “Avatars Live, The Hype about 4K” and more…

Sheff

AR

  • The Alternate Realities summit showcased virtual and augmented reality, interactive media and VR talks and exhibitions that included 360 degree videos, photos and animation, described as filmmaker’s “new innovative ways of immersive story-telling”.
  • Featuring 14 ‘immersive media experiences’ and 12 Virtual Reality documentaries.
  • The events ranged from a prison solitary confinement experience, an immersive Spacewalk, a journey to Mars to Dublin’s 1916 Easter Rising

VR Award

  • The winner of the first ever VR Award was “Notes on Blindness: Into Darkness”
  • The festival screened in parallel the remarkable doc feature “Notes on Blindness”.
  • A £5,000 VR commission was awarded to Darren Emerson’s installation project ‘Invisible’ that covers the dehumanization of migrants held in UK jails.

HBO’s Sheila Nevins

  • HBO Documentary Films president Sheila Nevins received the festival’s inaugural Creative Leadership Award.
  • Under her management, HBO has won an astounding 26 Oscars.
  • Her Takeaway: “I think documentaries are the greatest things in the whole world. It’s the way strangers meet and learn to love each other”.

New Films

  • Remarkable new films were screened, many followed by Q & A’s :
  • “StoryboardP, a Stranger in Sweden”, “Bobby Sands: 66 Days”, “City40”, “Cameraperson”, “Jim: The James Foley Story”, “Notes on Blindness”, “Presenting Princess Shaw”, “The Settlers”, “Tempestad”, “Born to be Free”, “Miss Sharon Jones”, “The Age of Consequences”, “Exodus”: “Breaking into Europe”, “Kiki”, “India in a Day”, “Rwanda & Juliet”, “In Pursuit of Silence”…. to name a few…

Awards

There were too many awards to list here, including:

About Madelyn Most

  • Born in NYC, Madelyn Most grew up in the UK film industry working on feature films, documentaries, commercials and television. Camerawoman, director, writer and film journalist she is based in Paris and London and today covers film festivals worldwide and writes about cinema.
  • She has authored essays on cinematography that can be found on various websites such as:  documentary.org (online), afcinema.com, bscine.com, imago.com, www.documentarytelevision.com, film&digitaltimes.com, film&tvkameramann.com, filmfestivals.com, etc.
  • Member of Union of French Film Critics, Foreign Press Association,  Union of Film Journalists, the Anglo-American Press Association in Paris and the Frontline Club.