NOW in its 18th year, Sheffield Doc/Fest - the most important documentary and digital media festival in the UK - packs an impressive 120 films and 70 sessions into five intense days which began last night with Morgan Spurlock’s Pom Wonderful: The Greatest Movie Ever Made.
With its highly successful market place, which, in 2010 it is estimated resulted in an injection of more than £20million (through sales and investment) into the documentary industry, it is now an established part of the UK film calendar (albeit having switched from November to June for the first time) it looks set to attract record number of industry delegates and film-going public through its doors this week.
This year’s festival is embracing the current rise in protest and revolution. The conference session on Saturday, The Revolution Will be Tweeted, includes presentations from people at the heart of the Arab Spring who broke through the various regimes’ attempts to curtail internet traffic.
These so called Hacktivists operate in a grey area between what’s legal and what’s right but they, together with people grabbing raw footage with hand-held devices, have made history and forced change in the Middle-East.
On Sunday the festival closes with a screening of the Tunisian film No More Fear directed by Mourad Ben Cheikh, which premiered at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Elsewhere within the film programme a number of films take a look at the wider protest movements.
Other festival highlights includes outdoor screenings on Devonshire Green on Saturday, which also sees a showing of Kevin MacDonald and YouTube’s Life In A Day. Jeanie Finlay, the director of Sound It Out - about the only surviving vinyl shop in the North East - will attend the festival with her pink and portable juke box and today the French artist Jean Marc Calvet, subject of Dominic Allan’s Calvet, will adorn the wall of the Showroom bar with his distinctive artwork.