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by Brian Brooks
October 30, 2006 5:46 AM
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"Paul Weller: Into Tomorrow" Opens 13th Sheffield Docfest

"Paul Weller: Into Tomorrow" opened the 13th edition of the Sheffield Documentary Festival Monday night, ushering in a program of 93 films from 23 countries, including nine world and 24 U.K. premieres. "Paul Weller" features the music icon telling much of his own life story and contains interviews with his parents as well as Steve Brookes and Bruce Foxton of The Jam, Boy George and Noel Gallagher.

Larry Weinstein's "Mozartballs" weaves the stories of five self-avowed Mozart fanatics together, while David Benchetrit's "Dear Father, Quiet We're Shooting" follows the stories of former members of the Israeli Defense Forces recounting their experiences in both Lebanon and Palestine and the reasons behind their eventual decisions to become conscientious objectors. British director Paul Watson, meanwhile, brings his latest, "Rain In My Heart" to Sheffield. The film is a "savage portrait" of Dickensian poverty and alcoholic abuse during the Blair era. Watson is also scheduled to teach a master class during the fest.

SXSW '06 film "A Crude Awakening - The Oil Crash" will also join the lineup. The film is a disturbing look at the earth's dwindling oil resources, and highlights how oil allowed modern humanity to live lifestyles that earlier generations could never have imagined. Gillian Armstrong's "Unfolding Florence - The Many Lives of Florence Broadhurst" takes a look at the flamboyant Australian design pioneer, while Albert Maysles' "The Beales of Grey Gardens" offers additional footage of Little and Big Edie Beale from the famous 1970s doc "Grey Gardens." "BomBali," meanwhile, takes a look at the 2002 terror attack at a nightclub on the Indonesian island.

The world debut of Simon Ardizzone and Russell Michaels' "Hacking Democracy" delves into the electronic voting controversy in the United States. Grandmother Bev Harris becomes obsessed with investigating the new voting systems and learns that they operate under a veil of secrecy. Harris decides to "spot-check" a recent election in Velutia County in Florida and finds staff tossing out voting records.

In addition to films, topical discussions are also slated at Sheffield, including a spotlight on the role of docs in the Middle East, while "Doc Chicks!" will bring together accomplished female directors who will discuss the "highs and lows" of their careers.

Sheffield Docfest's Marketplace is a new initiative taking place this year. The program matches doc filmmakers with U.K. and international buyers. Among the buyers attending this year's event are: Michael Burns (Documentary Channel), Christoph Jorg (Arte France), Mette Hoffman Meyer (TV2), Barbara Tryuen (Films Transit), Nick Fraser (BBC), Angus McQueen (Channel 4), Emma Read (SkyOne), Catherine Le Clef (Doc&co), Mark Atkin (SBS), Nobue Isobe (NHK), Ralf Quibeldy (NDR), Hanne Lindeman (Denmarks Radio).

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