Sheffield DocFest has revealed its full Industry Programme for the 31st edition, completing the full festival line up – following the public programme announcement.

The festival’s Industry Programme and Market runs in conjunction with the Festival – 22 Industry Sessions for industry delegates, five Marketplace Sessions, three Live Pitch sessions, the Filmmaker Challenge, Alternate Realities Summit, five marketplace Rough Cuts and the Craft Summit a day of five panels and masterclasses – as well as the previously announced MeetMarket pitching forum.

The Industry programme dives into the business of documentary, exploring the skills and techniques behind many of this year’s films, with a focus on producing, editing, cinematography, accessibility and ethics. The festival will be showcasing a range of funding opportunities, including collaborations with Channel 4, The Whickers, and the Podcast Pitch supported by The Whickers.

Alex Cooke, Sheffield DocFest Chair of Trustees said “This year’s festival celebrates world class documentaries, the programme is packed with captivating and extraordinary films, an exciting line up of talks and debates, and some brilliant initiatives: the Filmmaker Challenge, pitching opportunities, and the marketplace to support new projects and new talent. . We are acutely aware that times are tough, globally for so many, and also within our industry as we face numerous challenges. The risk is to retreat, to isolate ourselves.  So, we encourage you to join us to reconnect and energise each other in person. Our hope, as ever, is that you leave DocFest feeling creatively challenged, inspired by what you see, and uplifted by your fellow travellers in this diverse community that is so very special.”

Returning for the third year running, supported by Prime Video, Sheffield DocFest presents its Filmmaker Challenge 2024. Six early-career UK filmmakers from marginalised genders have been selected to undertake the challenge of making a film on the fly, with a micro budget and equipment support, as well as mentoring from Oscar and BAFTA-nominated filmmaker Julie Cohen(RBG, Every Body, My Name is Pauli Murray). Filmmakers will respond to the festival theme of ‘Reflections on Realities’, with only the deadline as a commissioning constraint with filming undertaken in a single day in and around Sheffield.

Julie Cohen, Oscar and BAFTA-nominated filmmaker says: “I can’t wait to work with this year’s cohort of Filmmaker Challenge participants. I had the fun task of reviewing the applications and I’m happy to report we selected a super talented group with wildly different approaches to documentary. It’s a tough challenge, but these six are up to it!”

The participating filmmakers are: Asena Nour Oyzoyn, Hannah Blackwell, Hannah Ava Dahl, Julia Mervis, Marta Miskaryan, and Tanicha Toro-Oloto.

A total of 22 Sessions for industry delegates will include discussions and panels in collaboration with industry partners Al Jazeera, BBC, BFI, BAFTA, Channel 4, Channel 5, Documentary Film Council, EBU, Eurodoc, ITV, Kingston University, National Geographic, Netflix, Sky Documentaries.

The events will cover industry topics such as navigating violence in documentary, representing women in crime, class, and disability, inclusion, sustainability for BIPOC producers, and the power of co-productions. Networking at the festival will be supported by 20 drinks receptions and film-themed parties featuring guest DJs and entertainment.

Vanessa Lobon, Talks & Sessions Senior Producer says: “In our industry sessions at Sheffield DocFest this year, we’re diving deep into crucial topics shaping the world of documentary. From the power of co-productions to navigating shocking content and the influence of investigative journalism, our lineup of sessions aim to inspire, inform, and guide filmmakers through the ever-evolving industry landscape. I’m thrilled to bring together industry leaders and experts to explore the latest trends and challenges in our field”.

A curated day of panel sessions dedicated to the techniques that go into non-fiction filmmaking, from shorts to features. Featuring the creative minds behind many of the films in this year’s programme, they explore how they have developed their craft, the creative choices they make and the tools that they use to achieve their vision. Taking place on Saturday 15th June at The Crucible Playhouse, The Crucible Adelfi and at Sheffield Town Hall.

The Craft Summit is supported by Warner Bros. Discovery.

Sessions include a masterclass on film marketing with speakers Paul Sng (TISH), Sarah Mosses (Together Films), Christelle Randall (Christelle PR); the future of AI in documentary filmmaking with director and producer Cassie Quarless; and a discussion on psychological safety in filmmaking with Rebecca Day (Film In Mind), Juliana Ruhfus (Dart Centre); and film finance with speakers Julia Nottingham (Dorothy Street), Soleta Rogan (Co-founder, Exec Producer, Rogan Productions), Alessandro Carroli (Producer from Eie Film).

Emily Copley and Steve Presence, Joint Acting CEO, Documentary Film Council, said “We’re delighted to be returning to DocFest for the DFC’s second annual Assembly after launching at Sheffield in 2023. Despite shared challenges in our sector there’s a real energy and enthusiasm for change and belief in what we can achieve when we work collectively and it’s hard to think of a better place to bring everyone in the Council together in person. We can’t wait to introduce our newly elected board and welcome new members as we begin building the DFC’s regional chapters. See you there!

Sheffield DocFest will host three live sessions for selected emerging directors to pitch their non-fiction projects to panels of judges – The Whicker’s Pitch vying for the coveted £100,000 Film & TV Funding Award; the Channel 4 First Cut Pitch to secure a commission for a 60-minute film, and one month of fully-paid development and mentorship with an indie; and the Podcast Pitch – an independent jury award two prizes of £5,000 and £2,000, supported by The Whickers.  Winners will be announced as part of the festival Awards Ceremony on Sunday 16 June.

Sheffield DocFest MeetMarket runs in conjunction with the festival providing networking opportunities and practical sessions and round tables. The Switchboard provides advice on the people to meet at this year’s market, Snap Chats is the networking mixer, while DocFest Round Tables are intimate sessions with experts in series, festival, distribution and creative fields.  Returning for 2024 are two Marketplace breakfasts, this year supported by Al Jazeera, the first inviting delegates interested in co-production and international collaboration, and the second presenting filmmakers and projects from Palestine Film Institute at the festival.

Patrizia Mancini, Head of Industry says: “After an exciting selection of 50 projects in development, production and rough cut stage previously announced on April 25th, we are thrilled to include again within the Marketplace activities our Talent Schemes, designed to foster and champion emerging voices in the industry, as well the industry roundtables, with experts from different fields and networking breakfasts. The aim of all these sessions being to promote and facilitate creative collaborations, empower new storytellers who look for opportunities, and above all to share the love for documentaries”.

The festival presents two selective schemes for new talent: Amplify Production Talent supports eight early career professionals working in TV production to connect with executives, and is supported by BBC and Channel 4.  Alternate Realities Meetings, supported by Arts Council England, brings eight new media artists in connection with collaborators, commissioners and production partners to progress their projects and careers.

Amplify Production Talents participants: Esme Hedley, Klaudia Slowik, Lauren May Dawkins, Louis Allen, Nathalie Mayer, Reannon Licorish, Siobhan Bahl, and Tamar Mankassarian

Alternate Realities Talents participants: Amparo Soria Fortuny, Debbie Harman, Estela Oliva, Nicholas Carn, Patricia Lalla, Ruth Mariner, Tatiana Collet Apraxine, and Yasmin Khan.

Alternate Realities Talents also attend the Alternate Realities Summit, previously announced here.

Staff Reporter

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