Top 10 things you must see at Sheffield Doc/Fest

A star-studded line-up of Oscar winners, TV legends and sporting icons are set to make this year's Sheffield Doc/Fest the best yet.

Thursday, 9th June 2016, 7:00 am
Updated Monday, 13th June 2016, 12:18 pm

Guest speakers range from wildlife king Sir Richard Attenborough, to Academy Award winners - including actress Tilda Swinton - and snooker legend Ronnie O’Sullivan.

Michael Moore, famed for his 2003 Oscar winning documentary Bowling for Columbine, about the high school massacre and challenging American gun law, gets the six-day festival underway tomorrow (Friday, June 10).

He will talk about his latest work Where To Invade Next and looking back over his successful career. It will be transmitted live by satellite to more than 100 cinemas nationwide.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Also at the festival, June 10 to 15, will be Lord David Puttnam, Absolutely Fabulous TV star and now documentaries queen Joanna Lumley, Kes director Ken Loach, TV documentary star Louis Theroux, Doctor Who actor and presenter Reggie Yates and cricket legend Freddie Flintoff.

Doncaster born film producer Mark Herbert, head of the Sheffield-based production company Warp Films, who studied at Sheffield Hallam University and went on to produced Four Lions, Dead Man’s Shoes, and TV comedy Phoenix Nights, will be another highlight guest speaker.

Doc/Fest will showcase the world’s best new documentaries, with workshops, talks and a meeting place for film-makers to funding. around 30,000 film fans - including 27,000 members of the public.

The festival will screen 160 international and UK documentaries, 27 world premiers, 15 international, 19 European and 52 UK premiers.

There will be a world-leading programme of interactive media and virtual reality exhibitions and talks, as film-makers embrace new innovative ways of immersive story-telling, including 360 degree videos, photos and animations.

Many events have sold out, like the Sir David Attenborough talk at the Crucible on Monday, June 13.

Bit with so much do do and see we asked for a top 10 things to do at Sheffield DocFest 2016 no better to tell us is Claire Aguilar, the festival’s Director of Programming and Industry Engagement.

Claire, has commissioned programming from the global community of independent producers, and has shepherded co-productions for television and film from over 300 producers and 35 countries.

She said: “We are very excited to present 2016 Doc/Fest. We have so much exciting programming going on and also special events and wonderful people coming.”

1. Where You’re Meant To Be

Paul Fegan’s debut feature follows former Arab Strap member Aidan Moffat as he creatively disagrees with 79 year-old force of nature Sheila Stewart on how Scotland’s oldest songs should be performed.

Should this warm-hearted, whirlwind voyage around Scottish folk music leave you undecided, you can judge for yourself as Moffat and very special guests take to the stage for a live musical performance following the screening at Doc/Fest. Abbeydale Picture house, Sunday, Jun 12 at 7pm.

2. Seasons in Quincy: Four Portraits of John Berger

Tilda Swinton began her brilliant career with filmmaker Derek Jarman whose films became an inspiration for the Derek Jarman Lab, a film centre and production hub at Birbeck. Swinton and fellow Lab directors collaborated on this affectionate homage to art writer and storyteller John Berger, The Seasons in Quincy: Four Portraits of John Berger. The result is a meditative and intimate look at Berger now dedicating his later years to the land and retiring to the alpine village of Quincy. ITN Source Showroom 4, Wednesday, June 15, 7pm.

3. Get Up And Dance!This is the year to see films about dance at Sheffield, and to get down and boogie on the dance floor! Our new dance strand Get Up And Dance features films about ballet (First Position, A Ballerina’s Tale, American Ballet Theatre: A History, Varicella), contemporary dance (Mr Gaga, Storyboard P, a Stranger in Sweden, One Day Pina Asked…) and voguing (Strike a Pose, Kiki). See a live dance performance of Storyboard P, a stranger in Sweden, and join us for the Vogue, Strike a Pose! party at the 02 Academy.ITN Source Showroom 4, Friday, Jun 10 at 7.30pm; Beijing Showroom 1

Sunday, Jun 12, 8.30pm.

4. Serena

Serena Williams is the number one tennis player in the world, and highly visible both on and off the court but this is an opportunity to spend time with her in the heart of her everyday life. Filmmaker Ryan White (The Case Against 8) spent months with the tennis pro and was given unprecedented access to her and her world; at tournaments and practice, inside her relationships with her coach, manager, even physiotherapist, and downtime with family and friends. ITN Source Showroom 4, Tuesday, Jun 14, 8.45pm.

5. El Charro de Toluquilla

Mexico has had a rich cinema tradition for years, but its documentaries today are particularly impressive - three are screening at this year’s Doc/Fest - Tempestad, Plaza de la Soledad and the dizzying, disturbing portrait of mariachi singer Jaime Garcia Dominguez, El Charro de Toluquilla. His ‘typical’ life as a “macho” entertainer, boyfriend and father conflicts with the reality of his AIDS diagnosis and he himself is simultaneously aware and in denial of his state of health. The result film shows a man dealing with machismo and old-school traditions in a country that has become solidly entrenched in 21st century maladies and issues. Vimeo Showroom 2, Tuesday, June 14, 6.15pm.

6. City of Dreams and India in a Day

Brian Hill and Sam Benstead have created a Bollywood-style musical extravaganza set in one of the biggest slums in Mumbai, City of Dreams. But it’s a documentary! Crossing these genres might seem a stretch, but they are beautifully combined as children sing about their hopes and dreams in a gracefully choreographed and beautifully photographed film.

Another film, the crowd-sourced India in a Day by Richie Mehta (executively produced by Ridley Scott) spans 24 hours across the country from those who delivered individual films to the producers. Commissioned through Google, this fresh view of the continent comes directly from the people themselves. PBS America Showroom 3, Tuesday,June 14, 8.30pm.

7. Outdoor Screen

A huge part of the 160-film programme are free films on the two Outdoor screens during Doc/Fest – at the Guardian Screen on Tudor Square and the Beijing Screen on Howard Street. The films are both reprises of films screening elsewhere in the festival and those unique to this very seasonal venue - the innovative Notes on Blindness, the Cuban music documentary A Todo Color, and Ric Burns’ American Ballet Theatre: A History. Come discover a rich sampling of films in the open air!

8. VR Arcade: Invisible

Commissioned by Doc/Fest and Sheffield’s Site Gallery with support from Arts Council England, filmmaker Darren Emerson takes audiences on a highly topical, immersive journey inside migrant detention centres in the UK, conveying the uncertainty and despair of those within the immigration system.

9. Boys on Film

Ronnie O’Sullivan, Professor Green, Freddie Flintoff, Reggie Yates - seemingly unconnected but what do these guys have in common? They will all appear at Doc/Fest ‘16 to discuss their love of documentaries! Be it remembering past TV projects, announcing brand new programmes or just choosing their personal favourites, you’ll discover an entirely new angle to your favourite personalities at this year’s Sheffield Doc/Fest.

10. Alternate Realities - Interactive Exhibition: New Dimensions in Testimony

An incredible first at this year’s festival is ‘New Dimensions in Testimony’ from USC’s Shoah Foundation. Using groundbreaking natural language software, Holocaust survivor Pinchas Gutter’s testimony has been powered by complex algorithms to respond in real time, allowing audiences to have their own ‘virtual encounter’ with a crucial historical witness.

TICKETS: Buy tickets for individual events, or a six-day festival wristband costs £65 (£55 concession). For full details and timetable of events visit or email [email protected]