We’re offering one lucky person a chance to grab a full delegate pass to Sheffield Doc/Fest right now on our Kickstarter. So, here’s our producer Anna Griffin to share some of her best experiences of this amazing film festival…
An Insiders Guide to Sheffield Doc/Fest –
Roller Discos, Real Ale & The Best Documentaries in the World
Sheffield Doc/Fest really is unlike any film festival I’ve ever attended before. It’s fun, it’s vibrant and there aren’t any egos in the room. Well, not in the rooms I go in anyway.
As soon as you get off the train and you see the bright pink boards and flags with big bold writing “Sex & Docs & Rock ‘n’ Roll”, you know you’re in for a treat. And everyone seems to be carrying record-bags with the same message. And you want one! So you head to The Workstation and join the queue of excited film fans and filmmakers. You get your bag and inside there’s a plethora of goodies! A catalogue, a ‘who’s who’ guide, DVDs, badges, stickers, event invitations…it’s like being given the party bag before you’ve even found the party!
Then, the roller coaster begins. First stop, get your ticket for the opening event! If you don’t, the next day is like being in the playground at school when you didn’t watch Big Brother the night before and everyone else did. Last year saw Jarvis Cocker lead a live orchestra including a brass band, a harpist, a choir and Richard Hawley! The orchestra were providing the live soundtrack to The Big Melt, an archive film produced by festival director, Heather Croall, and Crossover Lab Director, Mark Atkin. The event was held in The Crucible and it was stunning – completely immersive. Everyone was wowed and Jarvis looked like he was having the time of his life.
The year before we were honoured to be in the presence of Rodriguez when he surprised everyone by performing a secret gig at the opening night party. The crowd, from first time filmmakers to hugely influential commission editors watched and listened together. It was beautiful.
Then the next few days are filled with whatever you choose to fill them with:
- Gain insight into the inner world of documentary making with industry panels
- Marvel at interactive, cross-platform projects in the Crossover Lounge
- Watch filmmakers of the future try to secure their finance in front of a live audience in public pitches
- …and of course watch films, films, films!
And if it all gets a bit too much, then you can just slip off to the Café Bar at The Showroom and sample some of Doc/Fest’s own real ale while you peruse the film and event guide and decide what you’re going to do that night.
And the night-time events kick total ass too! The Thursday night is roller-disco night. If you’re anything like me just make sure you’ve got someone with you to keep you standing. Two years running I’ve crashed into a very influential distributor, luckily he’s also one of the nicest men in the industry so it’s fiiiiine, and maybe one day it’s something we’ll laugh about at the premiere of our film he’s distributed (fingers crossed, fingers crossed!) and Friday night it’s Guilty Pleasures hosted by Documentary Campus. If the bright pink bunting and the roller disco weren’t camp enough, you just wait until you get to Guilty Pleasures. The crowd of filmmakers, financiers, distributors and commissioning editors all whoop and squeal together when cabaret dance troupe Hot Gusset hit the stage. Oh my, they’re amazing.
But of course, the most important and impressive part of the festival is the films that are showcased. Sheffield Doc/Fest truly is one of the most influential and respected documentary film festivals in the world, attracting world premieres from films that go on to win accolades the world over. I’ve only been going to Doc/Fest for the past 2 years but the documentaries I’ve seen there will stay with me forever.
- Searching for Sugar Man
- The Act of Killing
- Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry
- 5 Broken Cameras
- The Moo Man
Big up the Doc/Fest team! The most hard-working and nicest people in the industry who will do anything they can to help. The other night, I was emailing Deputy Director, Charlie Phillips, and he was responding until 11pm! “Why are you still answering your emails?” I asked. “Because you’re emailing” was the response. For a group of people who are perpetually busy, they always make time to support filmmakers in any way they can. So, thank you Doc/Fest team for being totally rad and creating one of the best events of the year.
- Heather Croall – Festival Director, film producer & roller skating pro
- Charlie Phillips – Deputy Director, quickest man on emails, giver of great advice & super sharp dresser
- Hussain Currimbhoy – Director of Programming, another sharp dresser & great taste in films
- Sylvia Wroblewska – Business & Marketing Director, ex-Current TV producer, beautiful hair
- Chris Black – Marketplace Manager, super busy, super helpful, super beard.
- Mark Atkin – Crossover Lab Director, Head Master of Documentary Campus Masterschool, lover of bold dance floor moves
To find out more about how you can grab an exclusive Sheffield Doc/Fest pass head to our Kickstarter page now