Film festival launches

Posted by: Richard Abbey
Film festival launches supporting image

DocFest 2021 takes place on 4-13 June and features 55 world premieres, 22 international premieres, 15 European premieres and 59 UK premieres across 57 countries with 63 languages represented, including new International and UK Competitions, and a Northern (England) Focus.


Among the highlights is a world premiere screening of Uprising, by Steve McQueen and James Rogan: a series whose first instalment will be presented as a Special Screening. They also include the European Premiere of My Name is Pauli Murray by Betsy West & Julie Cohen, who will be the subjects of this year’s BAFTA Masterclass, and the UK premiere of The First 54 Years by Avi Mograbi, a timely and critical focus on the history of the conflict between Israel and Palestine.



Seventy-eight features and 88 shorts in the Film programme include also premieres from Brian Hill, Kazuo Hara, Kim O’Bomsawin, Lynne Sachs, Mania Akbari, Paula Gaitán, Rosine Mbakam, Theo Anthony, Vivian Ostrovsky, Yael Bartana and Yaël Abecassis. The UK Premiere of Final Account by the late Luke Holland will also feature.  35 artists and collectives are represented in the Arts Programme including Daïchi Saïto, Mona Benyamin, Pallavi Paul, Séamus Harahan.  

As announced previously, this year’s Retrospective: Films belong to those who need them - fragments from the history of Black British Cinema, will be a celebration of Black British screen culture - curated by guest curators including David Olusoga, who is also the subject of the BBC interview. Films of all lengths will all be presented as part of the retrospective including titles such as Burning An Illusion by Menelik Shabazz, It Ain’t Half Racist, Mum by Stuart Hall, Looking for Langston by Isaac Julien, Second Coming by Debbie Tucker Green, The Black Safari by Colin Luke, Baby Mother by Julien Henriques and Franco Rosso’s The Mangrove Nine, among many others. Karen Alexander has joined the previously announced line-up of guest curators.

Other talks and Q&As will feature Al Wong & Emily Chao (Dialogues), Alba Sotorra (The Return: Life After ISIS), Alison Bechdel (No Straight Lines: The Rise of Queer Comics), Brian Hill and Poet Laureate Simon Armitage (Where Did The World Go?), Campbell X (guest curator), Courtney Stephens (The American Sector), Lydia Lunch (The War Is Never Over), Marc Isaacs (guest curator), Mark Cousins (The Story of Looking), Pallavi Paul (The Blind Rabbit), and Victor Kossakovsky (GUNDA). 

This year, for the first time, Sheffield DocFest goes nationwide with five premiere screenings showing in up to 16 partner cinemas in cities around the UK, and online, followed by pre-recorded Q&As. More details of films and participating cinemas can be found here.

Cíntia Gil, Festival Director said; “We are very proud to present a programme that brings together a multitude of forms, landscapes and visions, with a myriad of incredible talent to whom we deeply thank for their trust.  We are excited about holding this festival in a way that welcomes everyone - in Sheffield, in cinemas across the UK, and online.  The importance and urgency of cinema has only grown since we last saw a film on the big screen.” 

This year the festival is holding its first ever UK Competition: a selection of 14 independent films. Filmmakers include; Allan Melia, Ben Reed, Charlotte Ginsborg, Christine Saab, Daisy Ifama, Daniel Draper, Eriberto Gualinga, Frank Martin, Isla Badenoch, Makeda Matheson, Maythem Ridha, Nicola Mai, Pamela Breda, Rhea Storr, Rob Curry and Tim Plester.

Also new for this year is Northern Focus, showcasing shorts and features from across the North of England Nine titles make up the section, directed by: Alfie Barker, Catriona Gallagher, Claire Davies, Jim Wraith, Kim Flitcroft, Mark Waters, Sel MacLean, Sema Basharan and Sophie Robinson’s new film in collaboration with Dunstan Bruce, leader of Chumbawamba, I Get Knocked Down.


For timings and ticket info, click here





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