Film and Television Features

Sheffield Doc/Fest 2012: Preview

It’s that time of year again, when the Steel City invites the world’s foremost fact fiends to shower it with truth juice. That’s right, it’s time for Sheffield Doc/Fest, the world’s most super awesomest documentary festival!

Last year’s fest was a real hoot and this year’s looks to be just as much fun. Kicking it off this year is a special live event at prestigious snooker venue (and sometime theatre, apparently) the Sheffield Crucible, where none other than British Sea Power will be providing a live score to Penny Woolcock’s From the Sea to the Land Beyond, a film made from over 100 years of BFI archive footage. Should be a good do. The opening night film is no less exciting, with the European Premiere of Malik Bendjelloul’s Sundance Award Winner Searching for Sugar Man, which tells the thoroughly intriguing story of Sixto Rodriguez, an unknown American singer who became a pop sensation in apartheid era South Africa before topping himself in live on stage. The fact that Rodriguez is in town for a Q&A possibly hints at there being ‘slightly more’ to that story…

Amongst the films toughing it out for the Special Jury prize are Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, a portrait (ha!) of China’s premier art rascal, Call Me Kuchu, a look at activists fighting for the rights of homosexuals in Uganda and Off Label, a terrifying peek into the world of those desperate fools who wade into the murky waters of medical trials.

The Youth Jury prize promises to be a tough category with many ace sounding docs trying to impress the spotty, sexed up urchins on the jury. Indie Game: The Movie – which follows independent game developers as they get their games finished and to market - is the one I’m excited about, following it’s super Sundance buzz. Also in the running is We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists, which delves into the history of radical hacking network Anonymous.

Also boiling my onions this year will be the European Premiere of 2012 Oscar winner Undefeated, HIV activism doc How to Survive a Plague, Eugene Jarecki’s new film about the war on drugs The House I Live In, Stacey Peralta’s autobiographical skateboard doc Bones Brigade and Chinese boxing flick China Heavyweight.

There are more than 100 films screening this year so there is much more on offer than I’ve mentioned above. I’ll be lurking around for all 5 days, live tweeting, blogging and podcasting my way around. Will also try and blag as much free shit as humanly possible.


We'll be bringing you highlights of Joe's Doc/Fest coverage, but if you want the full scoop you can find him at and on twitter