Next week, I embark on a 10-day trip to check in with the latest in European documentaries. I’ll start the journey with a series of panels and meetings and screenings at the annual Sheffield Doc/Fest in the UK. Always heard good things about this festival, but have never managed to attend in the past. Event organizers Heather Croall and Charlie Phillips are folks I’ve encountered frequently on the festival circuit, so I’m happy to finally see how they do it. This year’s lineup includes Opening Night film, Moving To Mars: A Million Miles From Burma, by Road to Guantanamo and Shock Doctrine co-director Mat Whitecross. Also anticipated on the slate for Sheffield is the new film from D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus, Kings of Pastry and Michel Negroponte’s addiction documentary I’m Dangerous With Love. Plus, there’s UK premieres of popular 2009 festival films such as October Country, Winnebago Man, P-Star Rising, Best Worst Movie, Only When I Dance, 21 Below, and Videocracy.
Videocracy will then make its native Scandinavian premiere at the annual Copenhagen Documentary Festival (CPH: DOX), the next week. I’ll be there too, for more panels and meetings and screenings. I attended CPH: DOX last year, and it’s a wildly unique documentary conference. Each year, the program is full of forward-thinking and mind-bending events. There are YouTube battles, video installations, and plenty of cross-platform discussion in the mix. This year, there’s a special program dedicated to pornography, a program about the troubled economy (featuring screenings of Capitalism and The Yes Men Fix The World), a program about climate change, and a program about Iran. Even Harmony Korine’s Trash Humpers is in the festival, which should tell you a lot about CPH: DOX’s experimental perspective on nonfiction filmmaking. In addition, there are some great discoveries and some high-profile premieres. Last year’s big breakout was Burma VJ, which went on to Sundance and a deal with HBO/Oscilloscope.