Our Top Event Picks: A Guide to Sheffield Doc/Fest 2016

Our first year of funding is quickly drawing to a close, and in less than a week’s time we’ll be announcing our winners in all three awards categories: funding, audio and veteran’s. The Whicker’s World Foundation team are getting packed for Sheffield, but not before trawling through the Doc/Fest schedule to see what exciting events are on offer this year. We’ve put together a guide of our top picks for this year’s festival- from talks with leading industry experts to top documentary screenings in the sun.

Good luck to all of our finalists on Tuesday the 14th and we look forward to seeing what the day will bring…

Friday 10th June

Where to Invade Next Attended by Michael Moore, 6.30pm at the Crucible Theatre

Conversation-sparking and at times controversial director Michael Moore will be opening this year’s Doc/Fest with the UK premiere of his latest documentary Where to Invade Next. Never one to shy away from contentious issues, the 2015 film sees Moore visiting countries all over the world from Finland to Tunisia in order to see how each government deals with various social, political and economic issues experienced in the United States.  Covering an expansive list of subject matters including women’s healthcare, social welfare and drug use, the film is an education in government policy from across the globe.  The film will be followed by a Q&A with Michael Moore himself and guests are invited to attend the Doc/Fest Opening Night Party at Cutler’s Hall directly afterwards. The award-winning director will also be participating in the Channel 4 interview on Sunday the 12th at 6pm at the Crucible Theatre.

Where to Invade Next Attended by Michael Moore, 6.30pm on Friday 10th June at the Crucible Theatre, 55 Norfolk St, Sheffield S1 1DA

Tickets: Available to the public here on the Doc/Fest website

© Flickr/MontClairFilmFest
© Flickr/MontClairFilmFest

Friday 10th June – Wednesday 15th June

Alternate Realities public events

This year’s Doc/Fest sees a surge in interactive media and virtual reality exhibitions as immersive technologies begin to shape the future of documentary filmmaking. Over the course of the festival, the public will be able to attend two free Alternate Realities events; Interactive Exhibition, showcasing 14 interactive media experiences, and Virtual Reality Arcade, where participants can explore 12 virtual reality documentaries. From taking a spacewalk on the International Space Station, to experiencing what it might be like aboard a migrants’ boat, or witnessing the 1916 Easter Rising from Dublin’s General Post Office, participants can look forward to this free event.

Alternate Realities, all-day events from Friday 10th June – Wednesday 15th June, at the Millennium Gallery and The Site Gallery.

Tickets: Free to public


Saturday 11th June

Breaking In: A Guide For Film Industry Entrants

Here at Whicker’s World Foundation, we’re passionate about giving new documentary talent the tools they need to develop their craft, so we’ll be the first ones in line for this talk moderated by the Guardian journalist and filmmaker Charlie Lyne. Attended by a panel of breakthrough filmmakers and professionals, the talk will be a chance for future filmmakers to gain insight in to the documentary industry and receive first-hand advice on the filmmaking process from development to distribution. Amongst the panel is VICE journalist Daisy-May Hudson, who in 2013 filmed her year spent living in a homeless shelter with her family, outlining the plight of Britain’s so called ‘hidden homeless’. Other panel members include Chasing Dad director Phillip Wood and Contented Media producer Alice Hughes, making this session one worth getting up early for.

Breaking In: A Guide For Film Industry Entrants, 10am on Saturday 11th June at the Crucible Studio, 55 Norfolk St, Sheffield S1 1DA

Tickets: For Doc/Fest pass holders only, please arrive 10 minutes in advance to ensure a seat.

Saturday 11th June

The BBC Interview: A Conversation with Reggie Yates

Actor, presenter and respected documentary maker Reggie Yates began his career playing cheeky schoolboy Carl Fenton in the kids series Grange Hill. Since then, his career has evolved from actor to much-loved presenter of Smile and Top of the Pops TV, eventually landing himself his own show on BBC Radio 1. His 2005 series Only in America had a somewhat Whicker-esque spark for adventure as he and co-host Fearne Cotton toured the US to find the weirdest and wackiest goings on in the land of the free- from underwater hotels to super hero conventions. All grown up now and making some of the most insightful and sensitive documentaries on TV, Reggie’s latest work for BBC Three has taken him to Russia to target anti-LGBT activists and South Africa to visit the so-called ‘white slums’ of the continent’s most celebrated country. At his Doc/Fest talk, Reggie will be discussing his career so far and sharing his exciting future plans with the audience.

The BBC Interview: A Conversation with Reggie Yates, 1pm on Saturday 11th June at The Crucible Theatre 

Tickets: Free for Doc/ Fest pass holders, £13.20 for the general public, purchase tickets here

© Flickr/Gooner1969
© Flickr/Gooner1969

Saturday 11th June

Professor Green: Documentaries and Me

Most of you will know professor green as the candid North London rapper famous for his truth-telling insights of life growing up on a Hackney council estate. Yet this MOBO and MTV Europe Music Award-winning artist has been branching out of the music world recently in order to work on various BBC3 documentaries. In 2015 his film Suicide and Me gained mass critical acclaim after exposing the hushed world of male suicide that tragically killed his father. Another of his films Professor Green: Hidden and Homeless, set out to discover the modern reality of homelessness in the UK, unveiling the harsh realities of those sleeping rough in some of the country’s most dangerous areas. Those of you who have just attended Reggie Yate’s interview need not go far, as Professor Green will be talking about his work in the Crucible Theatre just a few hours afterwards.

Professor Green: Documentaries and Me, 3.30pm on Saturday 11th June at the Crucible Theatre

Tickets: Free for Doc/ Fest pass holders, £13.20 for the general public, purchase tickets here

Saturday 11th June

My Scientology Movie + Q&A with John Dower and Louis Theroux

More than 10 years ago filmmaker Louis Theroux approached the Church of Scientology in hopes of making a documentary about them. After being repeatedly turned away, Louis and director John Dower decided to pursue the film anyway, using actors to re-create the experiences of ex-members. Bizarrely, confrontations with members of the secretive organisation during filming reveal that they are putting together a documentary about Louis as well. My Scientology Movie premiered last year to positive reviews, and Saturday’s screening followed by a Q&A with Louis Theroux and John Dower could be one of the festival’s highlights.

My Scientology Movie + Q&A, 3:30pm on Saturday 11th June at the Beijing Showroom 1, and also screening at 5:30pm on Tuesday 14th June at the ITN Source Showroom 4

Tickets: General admission sold out but free for Doc/Fest pass holders


Saturday 11th June

Weiner + Q&A

Josh Kriegman’s and Elyse Steinberg’s film has been touted as “the best documentary about a political campaign ever made” and picked up the Grand Jury Prize for documentary at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Weiner follows disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner as he bids to become New York City’s new mayor. However a scandal sends his campaign into meltdown, and a documentary crew invited on the campaign by Weiner himself captures the drama as it unfolds. Weiner’s screening on Saturday night will be followed by a Q&A.

Weiner + Q&A, 9pm on 11th June, ITN Source Showroom 4, and also screening 12:15pm on 14th June at Bertha Dochouse Library Theatre.

Tickets: Free for Doc/Fest pass holders, £9.35 for the general public, purchase tickets here.

Sunday 12th June

Outdoor Screening of First Position

To celebrate what we hope will be a scorching English summer, why not take to the streets of Sheffield to watch a great documentary alfresco? The Beijing Screen on Howard Street will be hosting a number of innovative films from Nick and Marc Francis’s Black Gold to brand new documentary The Mine Wars, on coal miners battle for their rights in post-Civil War America. One of our top picks is First Position, playing again on Monday the 13th at 5pm at Tudor Square. This San Francisco Doc Fest and Toronto Film Festival-winning film follows six young ballet dancers as they prepare for the much-anticipated Youth America Grand Prix. This event sees hundreds of young dancers competing against each other to receive some of the US’s top scholarships and contracts. We can’t think of a more insightful and enthralling way to enjoy a summer’s afternoon in the fresh air.

Outdoor Screening of First Position, 1pm on Sunday 12th June at the Beijing Screen on Howard Street,  S1 2LW 

Tickets: Free, open to all, no ticket necessary

© Flickr/Nebulaskin
© Flickr/Nebulaskin

Sunday 12th June

Notes on Blindness + Q&A

Notes on Blindness is one of the most anticipated films at this year’s Doc/Fest, with multiple screenings taking place over the course of the festival. The film follows writer and academic John Hull as he documents the deterioration of his eyesight, eventually losing it altogether, on audio cassettes. After winning an Emmy Award for a short film by the same name, directors Peter Middleton and James Spinney have followed up with a feature length documentary to explore John’s engagement with his condition. The first screening of the film on June 12 will be followed by an extended Q&A.

Notes on Blindness + Q&A, 6pm on Sunday 12th June at ITN Source Showroom 4, and 2:45pm on Tuesday 14th June at PBS America Showroom 3. Additional screenings on the 13th, 14th and 15th. See here for details.

Tickets: General admission for 12th of June sold out but other screenings available, free for Doc/Fest pass holders

Courtesy of Bertha Dochouse
Courtesy of Bertha Dochouse

Monday 13th June

Sir David Attenborough in Conversation

The broadcasting veteran and world-renowned naturalist will be in conversation at Sheffield Doc/Fest for the first time. Sir David’s career in documentary filmmaking spans over 60 years, in which he has presented such iconic programmes as Life on Earth, Frozen Planet and Africa to name but a few. Sir David will be talking with Charlotte Moore, Controller of Channels and iPlayer for the BBC, about his own celebrated career as well as the future of television and media. General admission tickets have now sold out for the event but festival pass holders may be able to pick up tickets for the event if they arrive early.

Sir David Attenborough in Conversation, 3:30pm on Monday 13th June at The Crucible Theatre

Tickets: General admission sold out but free to Doc/Fest pass holders (get there early!)

Photo by jeaneeem / Flickr CC
Photo by jeaneeem / Flickr CC

Monday 13th June

Screening Jim: The James Foley Story

The world collectively inhaled in shock in August 2014 when American journalist James Foley was beheaded on video by militants from the so-called Islamic State. For filmmaker Brian Oakes, James was not simply a haunting face smiling from the front page of a newspaper, but a close friend who he’d known since childhood. This HBO documentary explores his extraordinary life through intimate interviews with the family, friends and colleagues who knew him best. Revealing the previously untold details of his capture and incarceration under the hands of brutal terrorists, Jim: The James Foley Story offers incredible access to the back story of one of modern history’s most infamous executions. For those that can’t make the Monday screening, the film is also playing earlier on Saturday the 11th of June at 6pm. Both screenings will be followed by a Q&A with the director.

Monday 13th June: Jim: The James Foley Story, 8.15pm on Monday 13th June at PBS America Showroom 3

Tickets: Free for Doc/Fest pass holders, £9.35 for the general public, purchase tickets here

Tuesday 14th June

The Whicker’s World Foundation Pitch 

It’s been an incredible inaugural year here at Whicker’s World Foundation. We’ve received applications from Guatemala to The Philippines and heard radio docs on pirates and music-thanatologists. We’ve been enraptured by the lives of Ethiopian drug lords and been flies on the wall to some of Honduras’s most violent gangs. All of the incredible films we received for our £80,000 funding prize have been condensed in to five finalists, who will each pitch their documentary dream to our panel of expert judges and industry leaders this Tuesday the 14th of June. From planet-saving plants in the Amazon rainforest to patriotic American towns tucked in to the hills of Beijing, our finalists promise to transport their audience to worlds unknown. We wish all the best of luck to our pitchers and wait with bated breath to see what the pitch will hold.

The Whicker’s World Foundation Pitch,  11.45am on Tuesday 14th June at Hadfield Hall inside Cutler’s Hall, Church St, Sheffield S1 1HG

Tickets: This event is for Doc/Fest festival pass holders only, please arrive at the event 15 minutes in advance to ensure a seat

Tuesday 14th June

Sheffield Doc/Fest Awards Ceremony

Hosted by South London born comedian KG Tha Comedian, the Doc/Fest Awards Ceremony looks set to be an evening of laughter, celebration and we hope not many tears. Join the Whicker’s World Foundation team as we announce the finalists in all of our three awards categories: vet’s, audio and funding, totalling over £100,000 in giveaways.  Alongside the WWF prizes, the Wellcome Trust will be handing out their Storytelling and Innovation Award alongside the Tim Hetherington Trust, ITN Source and Channel 5, who will all be announcing the winners of their various awards. Grab a glass of bubbly at the door and join us in celebrating some of the world’s best documentary talent. The event will be preceded by the Whicker’s World Foundation celebratory drinks reception from 6.30pm-8pm at Sheffield Winter Garden, 90 Surrey St, S1 2LH, free for all Doc/Fest pass holders to attend.

Sheffield Doc/Fest Awards Ceremony, 8pm on Tuesday 14th June at the Crucible Theatre

Tickets: Free for Doc/Fest Pass Holders, £9.35 for the general public, purchase tickets here

© Flickr/BrunoPostle
© Flickr/BrunoPostle

Article by Megan O’Hara and Robbie Pyburn