What’s On in Docs? 10 of the Best Documentary Events in the UK this April

We’ve rounded up 10 of the best documentary events going on in April, including screenings, masterclasses, documentary challenges and festivals. Enjoy!

Sunday 2nd

Screening: Before The Flood, Hull

As part of the Hull Science Festival, the University of Hull will be hosting a screening of Before The Flood, a film about the dramatic changes occurring around the world due to climate change. The documentary, by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Fisher Stevens and Academy Award-winning actor and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio, explores what society can do to protect endangered species, ecosystems and native communities across the planet. The screening will be introduced by a brief talk on the human impact on climate change will also feature a scientific debate about the film. The event is part of CineScience, a series of events organised by the Society of Spanish Researchers in the UK and The Royal Society of Chemistry Hull and East Yorkshire Section.

Tickets: Free, but reserve on Eventbrite here:

Screening: Before The Flood, 11:30am, Sunday 2nd April at Hardy Building Lecture Theatre 1, University of Hull, Cottingham Road, Hull HU6 7RX.

Tuesday 4th

Screening: I Am Not Your Negro + Director Q&A, London

The Oscar-nominated documentary I Am Not Your Negro will be screening at Bertha DocHouse this April. Author James Baldwin wrote a letter in 1979, outlining his next project: the biography of three assassinated civil rights activists who he was close to – Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. Baldwin only managed to complete 30 pages of the book by the time of his death in 1987, but his manuscript has now been reimagined by filmmaker Raoul Peck. The result is a film that ties together past and present, examining race relations in the US and what it means to be black today. The film will screen daily at DocHouse from 7th of April, but a special screening on the 4th will be followed by a Q&A with director Raoul Peck himself.

Tickets: £12.50 (£10 concessions), buy on the Bertha DocHouse website.

Screening: I Am Not Your Negro + Q&A with Director Raoul Peck, 6:30pm, Tuesday 4th April at Bertha DocHouse, Curzon Bloomsbury, The Brunswick, London WC1N 1AW.


Wednesday 5th – Friday 7th

Wales International Documentary Festival, Blackwood, Wales

After the success of last year’s inaugural edition, the Wales International Documentary Festival returns to Blackwood this April. The three day festival will include screenings of over 50 of the year’s best documentary films, as well as networking events, masterclasses and training programmes. Last year’s festival included events specifically aimed at inspiring young people to explore routes into education, training and work in creative industries. The commissioner’s brunch, featuring panel discussions and insights into commissioning priorities, also proved popular at WIDF 2016.

Tickets: To enquire/book, please visit the WIDF website.

Wales International Documentary Festival, Wednesday 5th – Friday 7th April, multiple venues, Blackwood, Wales.

Thursday 6th

Screening: Hooligan Sparrow + panel discussion, London

To celebrate 15 years of advancing human rights in China, The Rights Practice is hosting a screening of Nanfu Wang’s multi-award winning documentary Hooligan Sparrow. The film profiles the activism of women’s rights advocate Ye Haiyan, also known as ‘hooligan sparrow’, as well as human rights lawyer Wang Yu. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion led by the BBC’s China Editor Carrie Gracie. Other members of the panel include Kirsty Brimelow QC, Chair of the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales, Harriet Evans, a Professor Emeritus of Chinese Cultural Studies at University of Westminster, and Chris Berry, a Professor of Film Studies at King’s College.

Tickets: £15, available on Eventbrite here.

Screening: Hooligan Sparrow + panel discussion, 6pm, Thursday 6th April at The Foundry: A Place for Change, 17 Oval Way, London SE11 5RR.

Hooligan Sparrow Trailer from Little Horse Crossing the River on Vimeo.

Saturday 8th

Doc in a Day challenge, London

Doc in a Day is back again! Hosted by the London Documentary Network, the competition will challenge teams of filmmakers to make a documentary film in 36 hours. At 10am filmmakers will meet to network and form teams, until 11am when LDN will announce a theme which all films must incorporate. Teams will then have until 11pm on Sunday to shoot, edit and send over their films. Docs will be screened around two weeks later where a winner and runner up will be announced (the cost of the ticket will cover the screening event as well). Winners of this month’s competition will get a meeting with Spring Films, a twice Oscar nominated and BAFTA/Emmy winning factual production company. They’ll provide tips on commissioning, an insight into how they operate and a tour of their production houses.

Tickets: £6 in advance, £8 on the day. Reserve on Eventbrite with a booking fee or join the Doc in a Day MeetUp group for no booking fee.

LDN: Doc in a Day, 10am Saturday 8th – 11pm Sunday 9th April, meet at The Roxy Bar and Screen, 128-132 Borough High Street, London SE1 1LB.

Image Courtesy of Doc in a Day

Monday 10th

An evening of Japanese documentary, London

Curzon Bloomsbury invites you to a double-bill of Japanese films from NHK World TV, a channel of Japan’s public service broadcaster. The first of the documentaries, What You Taught Me About My Son, follows the friendship between Naoki, a Japanese boy with autism, and David Mitchell, a British author. When Naoki wrote a book about dealing with autism, it resonated with Mitchell, whose own son is autistic. The pair worked together to translate the book into a best-selling English version, and now Mitchell will travel to Japan to finally meet the boy whose words have inspired countless families living with autism. The second film, Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki, focuses on Oscar-winning film director and animator Miyazaki. After retiring at 72, Miyazaki reverses his decision following an encounter with young CGI artists. The documentary follows Miyazaki as he makes his first ever CGI film, battling challenges along the way. The films will be followed by Q&As.

Tickets: Free but make sure to reserve on Eventbrite here.

An evening of Japanese documentary presented by NHK World TV, 6:30pm, Monday 10th April at Curzon Bloomsbury – Screen 5, London, WC1N 1AW.


Wednesday 12th

Unorthodocs Special: An Evening with Peter Broderick, London

This is a masterclass with a man who is shaping the future of documentary distribution. With HD cameras more accessible than ever, and the rise of video streaming sites and Netflix, it’s no surprise that scores of documentaries are being made and distributed. Peter Broderick, a distribution expert, has been at the centre of this revolution and has taught hundreds of filmmakers how to get their films viewed by as many people as possible. In this one-off Unorthodocs Special Peter will give a masterclass outlining the new world of documentary distribution and how to reach large audiences in a constantly evolving industry.

Tickets: £8-10, book on Eventbrite here.

Unorthodocs Special: An Evening with Peter Broderick, 7pm, Wednesday 12 April at Somerset House, South Wing, Strand, London WC2R 1LA.


Peter Broderick. Image: Eventbrite

Friday 21st

Screening: Letters From Baghdad + Director Q&A, London

Letters From Baghdad tells the story of “the female Lawrence of Arabia”, Gertrude Bell. British spy, explorer, writer and political powerhouse, Bell travelled what is now the modern Middle East before being recruited by British military intelligence during WWI to help draw the borders of Iraq. Using a combination of never before seen archive footage and Bell’s own words (voiced by Tilda Swinton) from her letters, private diaries and official documentaries, the documentary follows Bell’s dramatic journey into unchartered Arabian deserts and the inner sanctum of British colonial power. By examining Bell’s own story, the film also sheds light Iraq’s complicated history and how it has shaped the nation today. The screening at Bertha DocHouse will be followed by a Q&A with directors Sabine Krayenbühl and Zeva Oelbaum.

Tickets: £9 (£7 concessions), buy on the Bertha DocHouse website.

Screening: Letters From Baghdad + Director Q&A, 6:20pm, Friday 21st at Bertha DocHouse, Curzon Bloomsbury, The Brunswick, London WC1N 1AW.


Wednesday 26th

Screening: UK premiere of Between Earth and Sky, Cambridge

Making its UK premiere this month, Between Earth and Sky is the first documentary of its kind to explore the impact of global climate change through soil science. The film observes the effect climate change is having in Alaska, on its native people, glaciers and arctic soil. It also examines how the resulting disappearance of Shishmaref island may force its inhabitants, the Inupiaq people, to leave their home of thousands of years. The film’s executive producer Dr David Weindorf will give a brief introduction before the screening and will take questions afterwards.

Ticket: Free, but reserve on Eventbrite here.

Screening: UK premiere of Between Earth and Sky, 5pm, Wednesday 26th April at Lord Ashcroft Building room 2, Anglia Ruskin University, East Road, Cambridge CB1 1PT.


Friday 28th

Screening: The Final Reel, Norwich

In the lead up to its 2017 festival in November, the Norwich Film Festival is screening local features throughout the year. In April they will be showing the documentary The Final Reel, which tells the story of how cinemas and cinema-going have developed over the years in Norfolk (and in England more widely). Narrated by the late actor Sir John Hurt, the documentary uses a mix of interviews, archive and actuality to explore why we love the cinema. Director Jonathan Blagrove will also attend the screening, taking place at The Forum.

Tickets: £4 (£3 concessions) + a booking fee, buy on Eventbrite here.

Screening: The Final Reel, 7pm, Friday 28th April at The Forum, Millennium Plain, Norwich NR2 1TF

Words by Robbie Pyburn