Doc/Fest 2020 comes into focus

Posted by: Richard Abbey
Doc/Fest 2020 comes into focus supporting image

This summer’s festival, which will be an all-digital affair starting from 8 June, gives us a little glimpse of what to expect.

Ahead of announcing its full official selection for 2020, Sheffield Doc/Fest has announced the theme of its annual retrospective as well as three special focuses.


Christopher Small will be curating this year’s retrospective with ‘Reimagining the Land’, a series of films that will reassert the primacy of the land as a critical way of thinking about the world and about its various crises, by confronting historical images of land, agriculture, rural life, and proletarian struggle.

Sheffield is a city with a long history of spontaneous social movements, many of which are led by the young people the city is famous for.

Following her recent passing from COVID 19 at the age of 90, Doc/Fest pays tribute to the late, great, pioneer filmmaker Sarah Maldoror. Born of French West Indies descent, she studied at the prestigious Moscow cinema school VGIK, after which she joined the pioneers of the African liberation movements in Guinea, Algeria and Guinea-Bissau alongside her partner Mario de Andrade, an Angolan poet and politician, who was the founder of the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA).

Doc/Fest will present her first short, Monangambée (1969), which shows the cruelty of the colonising Portuguese authorities in Angola. The film takes its title from the shout of Angolan resistance, meaning “white death”.

The second focus will be on Lynne Sachs, focusing on the notion of translation as a practice of encountering others and reshaping and reinterpreting filmic language. Five Lynne Sachs films ranging from 1994 - 2018 – mostly involving creative collaboration with others - will feature as part of Doc/Fest’s online programme from 10 June.

Finally, Simplice Herman Ganou’s films, though few in number, exist as a shining piece of beauty, empathy, and absolute trust in cinema as a way of connecting with the world. Living and working and Burkina Faso, having studied in Senegal, Ganou’s cinema is made with a unique sense of time and place, as in a stroll through the spaces and the words that bind people together. Sheffield Doc/Fest invites audiences to discover this exceptional filmmaker through his first two films - Bakoroman and The Koro of Bakoro: The Survivors of Faso - both of which will be available online from June.

Don’t forget to check Vibe on 8 June when the full line-up will be revealed. To find out more, visit the Doc/Fest website.

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