Film and Television Features

Doc/Fest 2013 Preview

Next week sees the beginning of Sheffield’s very own Doc/Fest and excitingly, this year marks the celebration of its 20th Anniversary. As one of the World’s biggest documentary film festivals, it’s no surprise that the China anniversary (I looked it up) programme is especially impressive with premieres, industry sessions, Q+A’s, parties and inevitably, a few surprises.

A triple-header of opening night events headline the festival’s first day. First up is The Big Melt, a celebration of 100 years of steel made up of footage from the BFI archives. Steel is obviously close to the heart of Sheffield and also unites the two main reasons I moved to Sheffield in the first place; Musical Director and local legend, Jarvis Cocker and the incredible venue of the performance, The Crucible. The event is sure to get Sheffield positively gooey. 

Following that, there are two choices of event. The first is taking place at semi-local landmark, The Devils Arse. For out-of-towners, this is NOT a Felliniesque attraction located in Attercliffe, no matter what any locals tell you. It’s actually a cave and in it, there’ll be a screening of The Summit, ‘the story of the most dangerous and deadly mountaineering mission on K2’. Apparently, I’ll have to take their word on that one. 

Whilst unfortunately, I’ve never quite penetrated The Devil’s Arse and am sad to miss out again, I’ll actually be having myself some more wholesome fun at Pussy Riot – A Punk Prayer with Q+A. Looking forward to that ticket stub for the collection. On a serious note, with recent developments of Maria Alyokhina’s hunger strike and further details coming from Nadezhda Tolokonnikova about the inhumane conditions of the labour camp where she is incarcerated, what has been billed as an ‘Explosive’ Q+A, is sure to be full of passion, anger, politics and other raw punk ingredients.

If Q+A’s and big names are your thing then Doc/Fest delivers a little something for everyone from impressively sideburned, Olympic Gold winning cyclist Bradley Wiggins to impressively sideburned Quiff-Olympics runner up, Mark Kermode. Between two behemoth muttonchops is a familiar face made up of the likes of Alan Yentob, Melvyn Bragg, Michael Palin, Adam Buxton and some other fellow from across the pond called Ira Glass, presumably also a punk singer in his band This American Life. I’ve not read up on that one. 

I jest. Though, end the japes there, as I do not dare joke about the magnificent coup that is the appearance of actual, genuine, bona fide hero of the cinematic arts, Walter Murch. In attendance throughout the festival for a series of events that include screenings of Particle Fever, Apocalypse Now with Hearts of Darkness with Q+As AND his own masterclass…. Just phenomenal. 

There are simply far too many events to preview and I’d suggest taking a look at the film’s schedule over at if this has already tickled your fancy. Throughout the festival, I’ll be live tweeting and blogging as much as possible. However, here are a handful of the films I’ve picked out from slightly deeper within the programme and should, except in the case of a sexy free bar elsewhere, feature in my following articles.

NCR: Not Criminally Responsible follows Sean Clifton, a man deemed Not Criminally Responsible (Spoiler’s in the title) for the brutal stabbing he inflicted upon a stranger due to his own struggles with OCD and Schizophrenia. The film promises a study of both the recovery of the victim and Clifton, as he attempts to move back into the community and overcome his personal demons. 

Project Wild Thing is an Indie Brit effort, and follows David Bond. Struggling with the idea that his children and future generations will become increasingly less interested in the outdoors, he attempts to market Nature and reintroduce good, old fashioned tree climbing to kids who prefer their Apple and Blackberry picking down at Carphone Warehouse. See what I did there. 

Leaving the jokes to the pros, Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic goes up against some of the bigger names at the festival but is sure to be a fascinating look at a complex and insanely funny man with good reviews from Tribeca preceding it.

Conclusion: Doc/Fest=Sex and I look forward to bringing you tales from the frontline.