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Sheffield Doc/Fest highlights for 2013

Sheffield Doc/Fest highlights for 2013
Pippa Considine
10 May 2013

Sheffield Doc/Fest has announced its line up for 2013, its twentieth year, including its first Crossover market for multiplatform programme makers and commissioners.

Doc/Fest this year runs across five days from 12 to 16 June, beginning with the Crossover Interactive Summit. The main festival opens with the UK premiere of Mike Lerner and Maxim Pozdorovkin’s documentary feature Pussy Riot – A Punk Prayer, which tells the story of three young women: Nadya, Masha and Katia - members of the feminist art collective Pussy Riot – who were arrested on charges of religious hatred after they staged a satirical performance in a Moscow cathedral.

The Doc/Fest will also host the world premiere of The Big Melt, a celebration of a century of steel with a soundtrack from Sheffield's Jarvis Cocker working with his long-time collaborator Martin Wallace. It was commissioned by BBC Storyville and BBC North in Association with the BFI using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

There are 80 sessions and masterclasses, co-presented by Documentary Campus. Highlights include Melvyn Bragg giving his take on the role of arts on television, the controller of BBC Two Janice Hadlow will be in conversation with Sue Perkins, Michael Palin will join Miranda Sawyer to discuss his documentary journeys to all corners of the earth and Alan Yentob will talk with Nick Fraser about his career.

This year’s Channel 4 interview is with Jay Hunt and the Bafta Masterclass is with John Battsek who will talk about documentary producing. To celebrate ten years of the  genealogy series Who Do You Think You Are?, Alex Graham will be joined by one of the series’ celebrities and, on Sunday, Kim Longinotto will give a masterclass on the advantages and pitfalls of working with a sound recordist. Sir Trevor McDonald will chair the ITV Panel, The Art of Access – From Palace’s to Prisons.

This year renowned American film editor and sound designer Walter Murch, who worked extensively with Francis Ford Coppola, will give a masterclass following the world premiere of his new documentary Particle Fever, which tells the inside story about the discovery at the Large Hadron Collider of the long-sought 'God particle', the Higgs Boson. And at the session On Tour with Bradley Wiggins, director John Dower will discuss with Bernie Rhodes, about how he went about making Bradley Wiggins – A Year in Yellow.

The 120 strong film programme is organised across films in competition as well as thematic strands. This year’s feature programme includes 15 World premieres (11 short film world premieres), 12 UK premieres (four short film UK premiers), 5 EU premieres (three short film EU premieres), and two international premieres (two short film International premiers). A record 14 films screening at Doc/Fest were developed and funded through MeetMarket.

The Doc/Fest Awards will be announced at the awards ceremony on Sunday 16 June. The Inspiration Award, which is now in its fifth year, will be presented to Nick Fraser, editor of BBC Storyville.

This year’s Do/cFest strands include Behind the Beats, The Habit of Art, This Sporting Life, Queer Screen; Resistance, Cross-Platform, First Cut, Best of British, Euro/Doc, Global Encounters, New York Times Op-Docs and Shorts.

A new strand, Films on Film, screens an iconoclastic feature film together with the doc about that film. Titles include The Exorcist (director’s cut) plus The Fear of God: 25 Years of The Exorcist, introduced by its writer and presenter Mark Kermode, and Francis Ford Coppola’s seminal Apocalypse Now plus Heart of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse with the film’s renowned editor and sound designer Walter Murch. Werner Herzog’s Aguirre, The Wrath of God will run alongside his classic documentary My Best Fiend which explores his tempestuous relationship with actor Klaus Kinski, whilst John Waters’ Female Trouble is shown with I Am Divine.

The Doc/Fest Retrospective this year is dedicated to Shohei Imamura. Known mostly for his fiction films (The Eel, Vengence is Mine) Imamura also made several  documentaries that tread the line between documentary and fiction.

Doc/Fest will also screen Chris Marker and Pierre Lhomme’s landmark 1963 film essay Le Joli Mai which has recently been restored.

Among the feature world premieres are UK filmmaker Fred Burns’ Basically, John Moped, about the proto-punk scene of the 1970s. Including interviews with current and ex-Johnny Moped members, including Chrissie Hynde and Captain Sensible, the film also features archive footage from the Roxy club in Covent Garden, shot by Don Letts. Samantha Grant’s A Fragile Trust: Plagiarism, Power, and Jayson Blair at the New York Times tells the story of Jayson Blair, a promising, young reporter who incited a plagiarism scandal that brought The New York Times to what publisher Arthur Sulzburger dubbed a "low-point in the 152 year history of the paper." John Murray and Emer Reynolds’ Here Was Cuba is the story of the Cuban Missile Crisis, and how in 1962 the earth teetered on the very brink of nuclear holocaust.

Yorkshire filmmaker John Lundberg unveils a web of post-war intrigue in Mirage Men. The film follows Paul Benowitz who reported sightings of UFOs to the US Air Force, a call which destroyed his family and eventually landed him in an insane asylum. In Project Wild Thing filmmaker David Bond becomes the marketing director for Nature. Children are spending too much time on the sofa and not enough outside, but can David market Nature, a free, wonder-product, to apathetic consumers, and to his own family? In The Secret Life of Uri Geller – Psychic Spy? filmmaker Vikram Jayanti investigates the many hints dropped by controversial spoon-bender Uri Geller about his secret life as a psychic spy for intelligence agencies on three continents over 40 years. And Toby Amies’ The Man Whose Mind Exploded about Drako Oho Zahar Zahar will also receive its world premiere at Doc/Fest.

Sebastian Junger’s homage to his good friend, Which Way is the Front line from Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington (EU premiere), shows how the photographer captured an intimate understanding of wartime aggression through his photography by genuinely befriending the soldiers and rebels he followed. Marina Zenovich’s Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic (international premiere) looks at the comedian’s life and legacy, including exclusive access to widow Jennifer Lee Pryor and the Pryor Estate. Martha Shane and Lana Wilson’s After Tiller (EU premiere) sensitively probes the divisive issue of late term abortions in America. Shane and Wilson tell the story of the four surviving doctors determined to carry on their work in the wake of the murder of their colleague George Tiller and amidst constant pro-lifer hostilities. Rick Rowley’s Dirty Wars (EU premiere) blurs the boundaries between documentary and fiction storytelling when he follows investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill, author of the international bestseller Blackwater, into the hidden world of America’s covert wars, from Afghanistan to Yemen, Somalia and beyond.

Doc/Fest will screen the UK premiere of the director’s cut of The Act of Killing, Joshua Oppenheimer’s film which challenges former Indonesian death squad leaders to re-enact their real-life mass-killings in whichever cinematic genres they wish, including classic Hollywood crime scenarios and lavish musical numbers.

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