Sheffield Doc/Fest has announced a program of over 100 films, including 23 world premieres, for its 2009 edition, to take place November 4-8.
The festival will open with Mat Whitecross’ “Moving to Mars: A Million Miles from Burma,” which chronicles the experiences of two Burmese refugee families who are relocated to Sheffield. Highlights of the festival include RJ Cutler’s “The September Issue,” Chris Hegedus & D.A. Pennebaker’s “Kings of Pastry,” Kim Longinotto’s “Rough Aunties,” and Penny Woolcock’s “1 Day.”
Among the new programs this year are series devoted to comedy docs, cross-platform docs, and docs with a Russian focus, to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Soviet Union. Along with the existing Innovation, Green, Youth Jury, and the Student and Audience awards, Sheffield Doc/Fest is also introducing two new awards to the 2009 festival: the Sheffield Inspiration Award and the Sheffield Jury Award.
The films in the 2009 UK & International Features programs are (synopses courtesy of Sheffield Doc/Fest):
Features from the UK
Penny Woolcock / UK / 95 mins
‘1 Day’ follows Flash’s race against the clock for twenty four hours as he’s pursued by a rival gang, the police, his three irate baby mothers and his granny. A high octane romp with both humour and humanity but underneath, a sombre tale of what it’s like to be a young man on the run in our inner cities.
Addicted in Afghanistan
Jawed Taiman / UK, Afghanistan, Netherlands / 75 mins / World Premiere
Fifteen year old Jabar and Zahir are best friends, and heroin addicts. Following the boys for a year, Director Jawed Taiman deftly illustrates the vicious cycle of addiction and the devastation it wreaks on Afghan families.
Nicola Roberts / UK / 60 mins / World Premiere
Brian Eno has been a pioneer on the cultural landscape of the UK for a generation. But you don’t know Eno. Here the master of reinvention engages in a series of conversations with influential minds from art to cybernetics provoking a dialogue that itself creates a culture.
Attack of the 50ft Reels
Various / Various / 90 mins
Witness the results of an exciting filmmaking collaboration between ‘The Attack of the 50 Foot Reels’ and Doc/Fest, where we’ll be screening for the first time Super 8 films made by a select few of you, and screened without editing. Look out – the 50 foot reels are comin’ to get you!
BFI Presents Coal & Steel – Images of Industry
Various / UK
‘This Working Life’ is a 3 year BFI project exploring our industrial heritage on screen, highlighting some remarkable material drawn from the BFI National Archive’s documentary collections. The heyday of heavy industry has gone but the legacy remains in these powerful images.
Rosie Potter / UK / 25 mins
Proud nudist. Staunch Communist. Sensitive gardener. Anarchist senior citizen. Bob is the Werner Herzog of next door neighbours. Bob gives us some of the most hilarious imagery and memorable dialogue seen in student documentary this year.
Centenary – The BP Story
Nigel William / UK / 84 mins
BP is one hundred years old in 2009. ‘Centenary’ traces the complex history of the company through the troubles and triumphs of the twentieth century, through the testimony of past and present workers from the company.
Cultural Revolution II
Tian Ai Zhang / UK / 27 mins
A fascinating portrait of the new Chinese hero: the Capitalist. He is full of contractions even in his ambitions and these ambitions are of interest to us all.
David Bond & Ashley Jones / UK / 80 mins / World Premiere
Concerned about just how much information government and businesses are collecting about him, filmmaker David Bond decides to escape for a month, and lets private investigators track him using whatever information they can find in the public domain.
Far From Gone
Barney Broomfield / UK, Zambia / 40 mins / EU Premiere
An intimate portrayal of two Congolese refugees, Stephen and Boniface, who find themselves in a desolate refugee camp in Zambia after narrowly escaping from their war-torn country.
Men of the City
Marc Isaacs / UK / 70 mins
Marc Isaacs’ film is set in the current financial crisis and explores the human cost of life in the dog eat dog world of London’s Square Mile.
Moving to Mars: A Million Miles from Burma
Mat Whitecross / UK / 84 mins / World Premiere / Opening Night film
Thaw Htoo and his family lived in a Thai refugee camp after escaping the brutal Burmese regime. Until the day they were relocated to Sheffield, a town that may as well be a million miles away home. Like thousands of migrants, the family must come to terms with a new life while keeping their ethnicity and sanity intact.
Ivo Gormley / UK / 35 mins / World Premiere
Over the last 50 years play has become an increasingly private activity. Now it is bursting back onto our streets. ‘Playmakers’ explores the emerging area of pervasive games: it explores the implications of reclaiming play into the public domain and shows the possibilities offered by new technologies.
Kim Longinotto / UK / 103 mins
In Durban, South Africa, a group of feisty women are working day and night to protect the area’s many abused and neglected children. Watch them at work through the remarkable observational lens of one of Britain’s most acclaimed doc makers, Kim Longinotto.
Greg Barker / UK, USA / 94 mins
Before he was killed in an attack on the UN HQ in Iraq, Sergio Veira de Mello is described as a cross between James Bond and Bobby Kennedy. An unforgettable story, de Mello Charmed war criminals, despots and peasants alike. But his intentions were only to give the repressed back their dignity.
Brian Hill / UK / 75 mins / World Premiere
Emily Horne has been married five times, but she’s never bothered to get divorced. She’s worked in the porn industry and as an “escort,” and she’s already served one jail sentence for bigamy. But behind the stuff of headlines is a darker tale of mental illness, addiction and neglect.
Shed Your Tears and Walk Away
Jez Lewis / UK / 90 mins
Once seen as a utopia, the northern town of Hebdon Bridge now bears one of the highest suicide rates in Europe. Filmmaker and ex-resident Jez Lewis returns to find out what went wrong in a compelling portrait of addiction and redemption.
The Execution of Gary Glitter
Rob Coldstream / UK / 76 mins / World Premiere
Set in a parallel Britain where the death penalty has been re-introduced following overwhelming public pressure, this extraordinary and innovative court-room drama-doc explores whether capital punishment has a place in modern society.
The Fall of a Shah
Maziar Bahari / UK / 94 mins
Screened in honour of Maziar Bahari who is still imprisoned in Iran by the government, ‘The Fall Of A Shah’ traces the tumultuous history of the Iran’s last Shah and his fall from power.
Alexandra Mattholie / UK / 23 mins / World Premiere
He tracks these still waters as his father did before him. For hundreds of years a regular ferry service has kept the people on a Devon river connected to the rest of the country. Through a series of chance encounters and vignettes, the ferryman reveals his story that belies the humble character and tradition of the region.
Patrick Forbes / UK / 76 mins
When a body is found, the forensics’ department of the Metropolitan Police are locked in a race against time to find a killer. This is CSI without glory.
The Great Flood
Marcelo de Oliveira / UK / 6 mins / World Premiere
The Kawesqar people of Patagonia believed their world was created after a catastrophic great flood. In a journey across a mountain lake, the fable is recounted by one of the 14 remaining Kawesqar people.
Waiting for Women
Estephan Wagner / UK / 34 mins
The women left the remote Spanish village of Riofrio years ago. Only men are left, without the slightest possibility of finding a relationship. What a great excuse to have a party.
Women – Activists
Vanessa Engle / UK / 59 mins / World Premiere
This episode from Vanessa Engle’s new three-part documentary series for the BBC follows a group of young fired-up feminists in London.
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Samantha Buck / USA / 91 mins / UK Premiere
Twenty-year old Karen has a third child on the way, a baby who is dying, and a boyfriend who drives her mother crazy – no wonder her happily married sister Sharon has arrived to try to sort things out.
American Radical: The Trials of Norman Finkelstein
Nicolas Rossier & David Ridgen / USA, Canada / 84 mins / EU Premiere
The son of concentration camp survivors, ‘The Holocaust Industry’ author Norman Finkelstein is a provocative critic of Israel, whose friends include Noam Chomsky and most of the Arab diaspora, but whose enemies grow with every move he makes.
Laura Bari / Canada / 82 mins / UK Premiere
Blind since infancy, six-year old Antoine’s world is a rich one; his real and imaginary lives brought vividly to the screen in this creative and memorable film about the magic of childhood.
Amiel Courtin-Wilson / Australia / 84 mins / EU Premiere
Jack Charles has been a familiar face to Australians for forty years, a character actor who founded the country’s first Aboriginal theatre company. But he’s got two other long running, less noble pastimes: shooting heroin, and robbing the rich.
I’m Dangerous with Love
Michel Negroponte / USA / 84 mins / World Premiere
Filmmaker Michel Negroponte enters a subculture devoted to the miracle drug Ibogaine, which reputedly cures heroin addiction without painful detox, following ex-addict Dimitri as he smuggles the illegal drug to a host of addicts, with mixed success.
Kings of Pastry
Chris Hegedus & D.A. Pennebaker / USA, UK, Netherlands / 86 mins / World Premiere
The dream of every French pastry chef is to win the coveted blue, white and red collar awarded by the MOF – Meilleur Ouvrier de France or Best Craftsmen. The completion is like the Olympics for Chefs. Only harder. DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus follow one hopeful on his trip from the USA to the championships in France.
Michael Palmieri & Donal Mosher / USA / 80 mins / UK Premiere
Director Michael Palmieri and photographer Donal Mosher’s beautifully realised film uses Mosher’s family, shot over the course of a year, to paint a vibrant portrait of working class America far removed from Hollywood stereotypes.
Once Upon a Time Proletarian
Xiaolu Guo / China, UK, Germany / 76 mins / UK Premiere
In twelve visually arresting chapters, director Guo Xiaolu stitches together a patchwork quilt of post-Maoist China, her vignettes reflecting the struggles behind China’s shift from a communal society to the capitalist powerhouse it is today.
Roberto Hernández & Geoffrey Smith / Mexico / 90 mins / EU Premiere
Tonio Zuniga was arrested for murder in Mexico City despite no evidence, motive, weapon, and a strong alibi. In a justice system riddled with corruption, Tonio is guilty until found innocent, and is now engaged in the fight of his life.
Jean-Marie Teno / Cameroon, France / 70 mins / UK Premiere
Nanema Boubakar runs an underground cine club in Burkina Faso which shows its share of bootlegged movies. When an opportunity to show Ouedraogo’s ‘Yaaba’ arises, Nanema is delighted but the screening is nowhere near capacity triggering a discussion of the state of the film industry in Africa.
Eugenio Polgovsky / Mexico / 90 mins
Alongside the beauty of the Mexican countryside is a far uglier reality: children work in hard labour from a very young age. In Eugenio Polgovsky’s extraordinary film, their lives are opened up to us, without condescension, commentary or captions.
The September Issue
R.J. Cutler / USA / 88 mins
One of the biggest documentaries of the year takes you behind the scenes for a rare glimpse at Vogue Magazine’s world renown editor, Anna Wintour, as she prepares to publish the biggest edition of the magazine ever. Unmissable for fashionistas and mortals alike.
Voices from El-Sayed
Oded Adomi Leshem / Israel, Switzerland / 75 mins / UK Premiere
El-Sayed in Palestine is the largest deaf community in the world. Cochlear implants are now becoming available to its hearing impaired residents, but what impact will these imporovements have on such a unique community? Every scene is a fascinating and inspiring encounter with people living on the cusp of more than one border.
To view the rest of the lineup, visit the festival’s official website.